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India records highest-ever single-day coronavirus spike; Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan vows stringent action against those found hoarding or black-marketing the drug.

Aishvarya Jain



India recorded its biggest-ever single-day spike with 1,84,372 Covid-19 cases, besides 1,027 deaths, in 24 hours. This is the highest number of cases that India has ever recorded and is now the second country after the USA to record these many cases in the span of 24 hours.

As the sudden surge in cases across the nation has led to an unprecedentedly high demand of Remdesivir, the government has announced that the production of the antiviral drug will be ramped up and its prices reduced. Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan also called for stringent action against those found hoarding or black-marketing the drug.

States like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh have flagged depleting stocks of the injectable antiviral drug, which, they say, has added to the crisis caused by the surge. Responding to this, Dr Harsh Vardhan told ANI, “The shortage of Remdesivir happened because its production was reduced as Covid-19 cases were decreasing. But our drug controller and (the Chemicals and Fertilizers) ministry held a meeting with stakeholders and have asked manufacturers to strengthen production.”

Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya further informed, “The government has decided to increase the production and supply and reduce the prices of Remdesivir. This will ramp up production capacity for manufacturing to around 80 lakh vials a month. Manufacturers of Remdesivir are to reduce the price to less than Rs 3,500 by the end of this week.”

“In case of any complaint of black marketing or hoarding of doses, stringent action will be taken by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI). Stringent action should be taken against those who are exploiting people by inflating the price of Remdesivir,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan.

Earlier this week, the Centre banned the export of the Remdesivir injections and active pharmaceutical ingredients, which was cleared by the drug regulator for restricted use in an emergency situation in June. It is being used for the treatment of patients with severe Covid-related complications. The government has stated that the drug must be given only in serious cases and not be used at home.

“It is an investigational drug. Its role has been clearly defined in the clinical management protocol. Remdesivir is to be used only in those who require hospitalisation and are on oxygen support. There is no question of its use in home settings and for mild cases. That is unethical,” said NITI Aayog member VK Paul, flagging “irrational” use of the drug.

Meanwhile, the Union Health Minister emphasised that there is no shortage of vaccines and the Centre is providing them to every state. “It is the job of the states to provide the vaccine at the centre in a time-bound manner along with monitoring the drive and meticulous planning,” he said.

Dr Harsh Vardhan also responded to questions about the Kumbh Mela which is attracting lakhs of people by saying, “It is clear that it is a new virus and the most important Covid-appropriate behaviour is using masks, distancing and sanitisation. Wherever it is not followed, it is dangerous…We should go back to Covid-appropriate behaviour and only then we can lower the cases.”

However, the viral infection is still rapidly spreading in most regions of the country. Delhi witnessed another record high because of it with 17,282 new Covid-19 cases and 104 deaths in 24 hours. It also registered 9,952 recoveries. With this, the total number of cases in the national capital has increased to 7,67,438 and the death toll stands at 11,540. 7,05,162 people have recovered so far. There are 50,736 active cases.

Maharashtra reported 58,952 fresh Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, besides 278 deaths. The total cases in the state have now reached 35,78,160, out of which 6,12,070 are active cases. Meanwhile, Mumbai reported 9,925 fresh cases and 54 deaths.

Uttar Pradesh reported 68 coronavirus deaths as it witnessed 20,510 more cases, making it the highest single-day number for the state, pushing the total infection count to 7,44,021. So far, 9,376 people have died from the infection in UP.

Himachal Pradesh reported 925 new positive cases, 250 recoveries and 13 deaths in the last 24 hours. The death toll in the state stands at 1,135, while 72,319 patients have recovered so far. There are 6,929 active cases.

Goa recorded 473 fresh cases of Covid-19 and four more casualties in 24 hours. With this, the tally of infections in the state reached 63,815, while the death toll mounted to 857.

Andhra Pradesh reported 18 Covid-19 fatalities, the highest in a day, as 4,157 fresh cases of the infection were registered in the state. 1,606 coronavirus patients also recovered in the state in 24 hours, while the number of active cases increased to a near six-month high of 28,383. The total recoveries reached 9,01,327 while the gross toll rose to 7,339. Telangana recorded 2,157 fresh coronavirus cases, pushing the total positives to over 3.34 lakh, while the toll rose to 1,780 with eight more fatalities. The total number of cases stood at 3,34,738 while, with 821 patients being cured, the total recoveries were at 3,07,499.

Tamil Nadu reported 7,819 new Covid-19 infections, pushing the caseload to 9,54,948, while the toll mounted to 12,970 with 25 more deaths. Recoveries mounted to 8,87,663 with 3,464 patients being discharged, leaving behind 54,315 active cases.


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The Managing Trustee of Mathuradas Mathur Charitable Trust, Vishal Mathur, observed the auspicious day of Avtar Divas by donating oxygen concentrators to Shri Gurdwara Sahab in Vaishali Nagar, Jaipur, amid the Covid-19 crisis.

“Our Sikh brothers and sisters always come first to serve the people of India whenever there is any calamity and it’s time to serve them as a small token of appreciation,” he said.

More oxygen concentrators shall be provided to hospitals and community centres as and when they are arranged, he added.

Mathur is also engaged in distributing nutritious meals for paramedics and frontline workers in some leading hospitals in Jaipur. Hardeep Singh Arora, Mathur’s friend who owns the restaurant Suryamahal, is supplying meal boxes to hospitals to support this philanthropy.

Vishal Mathur is currently working with SES Satellite as Senior Sales Director for Asia Pacific and residing in Singapore. He is the grandson of the late Mathuradas Mathur, former Finance and Home Minister for Rajasthan.

In January 2020, Vishal also organized the Mathuradas Mathur Memorial Polo Cup to promote the sport amongst special schoolchildren. War windows were also honoured at the event, which was attended by Chief Minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot among other dignitaries.

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Naidu demands probe into ‘third degree’ methods used on Narsapuram MP

Lokeswara Rao



TDP chief and former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu demanded a full-fledged inquiry into the alleged ‘third degree’ methods used by the CID against Narsapuram MP K. Raghurama Krishnam Raju.

Naidu asked whether the senior officials were violating the laws of the land and resorting to third degree methods against a Member of Parliament only to see happiness in the eyes of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. If anything would happen to the life of Raghurama Raju, the Andhra government should be held responsible, he said.

In a statement, the TDP chief said that a high-level probe should be ordered into the third degree methods used against the MP and required action should be taken against the CID officer concerned. “The injuries inflicted on Raju in CID custody would hold a mirror to the oppression being perpetrated by the government in the state. How can an honourable MP be put to physical punishment while in police custody?” he questioned.

The TDP chief said that it was inhuman on the part of the police to use third degree methods despite the Supreme Court’s orders against the same. “It would be understandable how the police treated Raghurama Raju since he was not even able to walk with comfort. All the democratic-minded people should condemn this incident and good medical treatment should be given to the MP immediately,” he demanded.

Naidu also said that the Andhra police went in crowds, violating the Covid guidelines issued by the Central Government. “The sole purpose of the state police was to arrest and harass Raju. As per the law, the police had no right to beat up even a common citizen. In this case, a Member of Lok Sabha, elected by lakhs of voters, was subjected to physical punishment. The incident would remain a blot on the entire police machinery in the state,” he said.

Naidu said that such incidents were only exposing how a faction-ridden system would perpetrate injustice on people of all sections. If the police physically attacked a person of MP status, then the plight of a common citizen in the state would be unthinkable, he claimed.

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Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar donated medicines for Covid to five villages, as part of its initiative to help during the pandemic period.

The university has adopted five villages, namely Bahbalpur, Satrod Kala, Mirzapur, Nangthala and Deva.

Vice Chancellor Prof. Tankeshwar Kumar said that it is very important to make villagers aware of the disease in time and for this universities will have to discharge their responsibility.

The university has also set up a counselling helpline in these five villages. For this, Prof. Sandeep Rana, a psychologist from the university, will advise villagers and be available on his phone throughout the week, except for Sundays, from 4 pm to 6 pm.

University Registrar Prof. Avinash Verma stated that there is a need to take steps for villages during Covid and GJU is playing an important role.

The sarpanch of Bahbalpur village, Bhajanlal, informed that the university has made proper arrangements for medicines and sanitizing sprays. He thanked the VC and university administration.

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Stressing the need to avoid the kind of situation prevailing in the villages of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday announced a unique Covid Fateh programme as part of a ‘Corona Mukt Pind Abhiyaan’ to tackle the worrying spread of Covid in rural areas.

Terming it a war that needed the involvement of all sections of the community, the Chief Minister directed the Health and Rural Development departments to spearhead the campaign with large-scale mobilisation of the community in the state’s villages.

The entire staff should be utilised to spread awareness among villagers about the dangers of Covid, he said, adding that Health & Wellness Clinics should become the fulcrum, and Community Health Officers, panchayats, school teachers, Anganwadi and ASHA workers, village police officers, youth volunteers etc. must be mobilised on a large scale to steer the programme.

The Guardians of Governance and the police force should work closely to make this programme a success, he said, adding that the idea is not just to spread awareness and dispel any myths but also ensure that there is adequate sampling and vaccination carried out in the rural areas as well as early identification of infected people to ensure early treatment.

Symptomatic persons should be given basic medicines like paracetamol and cough syrup, and Vitamin C, at their doorsteps, he directed, and said they should be encouraged to get tested and supported in home isolation if they test positive. He directed the Health Department to provide additional Rapid Antigen Test kits exclusively for the purpose of testing in rural areas.

The department should also consider opening Covid Care Centres (L1) whereever required with the support of NGOs, he said.

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Covid curbs in Punjab extended till 31 May, CM orders strict enforcement



With the state continuing to report high Covid positivity and CFR, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday ordered the extension of all existing restrictions up to May 31, with directions for their strict enforcement.

The Chief Minister said the DCs will continue to determine the opening of shops in a staggered manner and enforce other curbs to check the spread of Covid-19, especially in rural areas. They can also make suitable amendments based on local conditions as long as they do not dilute the state’s overall restrictions, said the Chief Minister.

The district authorities shall continue to ensure strict implementation of all the directives of the MHA/state government on Covid-appropriate behaviour, including social distancing norms, regulating crowds in marketplaces and public transport, and the imposition of penalties prescribed for violation of norms.

Reviewing the state’s Covid situation at a high-level meeting, the Chief Minister said that while the restrictions so far had shown results, with some decline in day-on-day positivity and cases coming down from to 6000 in this period, there was a need to extend them in view of the high positivity rate of 13.1% and 2.4% CFR.

Singh also directed the district administrations to investigate complaints of private hospitals overcharging patients and directed the police department to crack down on those found hoarding or black-marketing any Covid-related essentials or medicines.

The Chief Minister also expressed concern over the spread of the new fungal disorder associated with Covid and directed the health department to ensure that medicines to treat it are procured beforehand and to re-examine the SOP to see if there is anything that can be done to prevent the disease from occurring.

On the availability of oxygen, the Punjab CM said that while the state, through judicious measures, had been able to prevent any mishap, the situation should be closely monitored by the Health Department. The state government had successfully arranged for PSA plants, oxygen concentrators, etc. which will further help tackle oxygen shortages, he added. The state is expecting over 2500 oxygen concentrators on the ground within this month, he said, directing the department to ensure the best use of the same.

Captain Amarinder further directed the Health and Medical Education departments to continue to ensure that there is no problem at any point with respect to hospital capacity, especially with regard to L-3 beds.

He asked the DCs to ensure that food kits are delivered to those in quarantine, reiterating that nobody should be allowed to go to sleep hungry. He also complimented the DGP on the successful launch of the `Bhojan Helpline’.

The Chief Minister also directed DGP Dinkar Gupta to ensure strict compliance of the restrictions, while appreciating the efforts of various departments.

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17 youths were counselled and released by the police later; harsh punishment avoided to protect their futures.



Several young boys were arrested across Srinagar after they participated in pro-Palestine protests. The J&K Police also arrested a local artist and preacher along with the youths.

Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti reacted on Sunday by calling Kashmir an “open prison”. Mehbooba in a tweet said “People all over the world are protesting against the atrocities committed by Israel on Palestine. But in Kashmir its a punishable offence where an artist is booked under PSA & a preacher is arrested simply for expressing solidarity with Palestinians.”

In another tweet on Sunday, Mehbooba said, “Kashmir is an open air prison where people’s thoughts are being monitored & they are punished for it. There is no outlet left to express one’s opinion & this is a deliberate attempt to push Kashmiris to the wall.”

17 boys who had been picked up by the police for indulging in protests over the Israel-Palestine situation have since been counselled and handed back to their families. The move aims at avoiding harsh punishment so the boys’ futures are not spoiled.

The boys had been arrested for participating in protests in violation of Section 51 of the DM Act during the ongoing Corona Curfew in Kashmir, which has been extended to 24 May.

A police spokesperson said that the parents of the young boys assured that they will guide their children not to engage in any activities which are against the law and can lead to the spread of infection in times of Covid.

SSP Srinagar Sandeep Chaudhary appealed to the youngsters to concentrate on their studies and career building. He told them that there is a section in society who manage to have the best facilities and life opportunities for themselves and their families but use boys from humble backgrounds as fodder for furthering their careers and agendas. “Those who push young boys on the path of violence never show up to help the parents of those whose careers get destroyed through engaging in illegal activities,” he said.

He also assured the parents that the Jammu and Kashmir Police are duty bound to release their wards after counselling in a transparent manner. “The larger goal of preventing youngsters from taking a greater leap of criminality is the sole motto of the ‘community bond’ because parents and elders of the localities take responsibility for better conduct on the part of these boys,” he said.

SP South Srinagar Sajjad Shah, SP North Srinagar Mubashir Bukhari and other officers of district were also present during the interaction.

In downtown Srinagar, a local journalist working with an English daily and some young boys were also arrested by the police after a Friday prayer protest against Israel. According to family members, Safakadal police station of Srinagar booked them under various sections and, despite assurances by the respectable locals in the city, the police refused to release them.

Shayib Bhat, who is working very actively in the field for the local English newspaper, is still under detention in the Safakadal police station. The locals say he was performing his duties while the protest was going on in Srinagar.

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