Covid update: India vaccine progress; another minister infected; IMF on economy
From another minister in the Narendra Modi cabinet testing positive for infection, to the progress report of India's indigenously-developed vaccine candidates - here are the top news updates on the Covid-19 pandemic.
Union minister of petroleum and natural gas, and steel, Dharmendra Pradhan, tested positive days after Union Home minister Amit Shah confirmed his positive diagnosis.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated three petroleum projects in Bihar via video conferencing on September 13. Speaking on today's inauguration of Durgapur-Banka section of Paradip-Muzaffarpur pipeline, Union Minister of Petroleum, Dharmendra Pradhan on Sunday stated that in last 6 years, 400 petrol pumps became operational in Bihar while 1,200 LPG distributors opened. "This generated employment for 20,000 youths here," he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated three petroleum projects to Bihar, through video conferencing on September 13. Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar were present during the inauguration. The projects include the Durgapur-Banka section of the Paradip-Haldia-Durgapur Pipeline Augmentation Project and two Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) Bottling Plants. They have been commissioned by Indian Oil and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited.
From two more Union ministers testing positive, to hospital staff preventing a suicide bid by a patient - here are the top news updates on the Covid-19 pandemic. After Union Home minister Amit Shah and petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan, MoS Heavy Industries Arjun Ram Meghwal, and MoS Agriculture Kailash Choudhary have tested positive for Covid infection. In Kolkata, hospital staff were able to stop a patient from jumping out after breaking a window pane with an oxygen cylinder. The Central government has asked state administrations to step up testing of grocery shop staff, and vegetable and fruit vendors, as they can potentially spread the virus to a large number of people. The southern state of Tamil Nadu has decided to reopen places of worship with some limitations from August 10. Meanwhile, Andhra Pradesh saw a massive jump in new cases with over 10,000 infections being reported on Saturday. India's total case tally has crossed the 20.88 lakh mark with over 42,500 deaths so far. While India has 6.19 lakh active cases, over 14.27 lakh patients have been discharged so far. In international news, some states in the United States of America have allowed schools to reopen even as the US remains the worst Covid-hit nation so far. The US has had over 48 lakh cases, while the second worst-hit country, Brazil is at 29 lakh cases. Watch the full video for more updates on the spread of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus.
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A mishap occurred during celebration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday in Chennai on September 17. Workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party had collected helium balloons as part of the festivities. However, sparks from fireworks reportedly led to an explosion in the balloons. Over 30 BJP workers were reportedly injured in the incident and had to be rushed to a hospital. Their injuries were minor, as per reports. The BJP observed 'seva saptah' or service week to mark PM Modi's birthday. He turned 70 on September 17 and tweeted that what he wants on his birthday is for people to follow Covid precautions like wearing face masks and following social distancing. Watch the full video for more.
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India's Permanent Representative to United Nations TS Tirumurti spoke on the upcoming General Assembly session. Tirumurti said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address will be the highlight of India's participation. PM Modi will participate in two debates in the high-level segments beginning from September 21. "This time UN General Assembly will be historic and in more than one way. India's highlight will be participation of PM Modi in two debates. First is a general debate where he will deliver our national statement. Other is the high-level plenary meeting to commemorate UN's 75th anniversary. PM's address will certainly be the highlight of our participation in UNGA," Tirumurti said. He added. "We are entering UN Security Council at a very interesting if not critical juncture. We will be entering Security Council during the 75th year of UN. The world is different from the one that was when we were last in council. We have set forth our priorities which include peace & security related issues."
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Health Minister of Delhi, Satyendar Jain on September 19 briefed media over the current situation of COVID-19 in national capital. He said, "When people in such large numbers are getting infected in Delhi and other parts of the country, it should've been admitted that there is community spread... but only ICMR or Central govt can comment on this."
The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was taken up in the Rajya Sabha on September 19. Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan moved the bill to be taken up for consideration in the Upper House. "In the year 2020, there has been an extraordinary situation around the world and also in the country. Many healthcare workers including doctors, paramedics were insulted in some form or the other, due to stigma attached to COVID-19. The Centre government acted on this situation and found that there was a need for a law, a prohibitory mechanism against such incidents," Vardhan said in the Rajya Sabha. Speaking in the Rajya Sabha during the discussions on the bill were underway, the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), MP Derek O'Brien said, the Epidemic Diseases Amendment Bill 2020 is an attempt to encroach states' constitutionally assigned functioning. He said, "You thought of healthcare workers now? Bengal has Medicare Service Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property Act 2009. What happens to it? Bill is an attempt to encroach states' constitutionally assigned functioning".
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain spoke on Covid-19 situation in the city-state. Jain reiterated that there is community spread in Delhi. He said that the large number of cases point to community level spread. Jain, however, added that only ICMR or Centre can comment on this. "People in such large numbers are getting infected in Delhi, other states. It should have been admitted that there is community spread. But this is something on which only ICMR or Centre can comment. I can tell you that there is a spread inside the community. This is a technical term, scientists will be able to tell this better," the state health minister said. More than 2,140 Covid-19 cases were recorded in Delhi, while over 61,030 tests were conducted on Friday. The doubling rate in the national capital has reached 40 days. As per Union Health Ministry, there are over 32,200 active cases in Delhi.
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As clinical trials of different COVID-19 vaccines are in various phases across the globe, an AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) doctor said that if everything goes as planned, people can expect a vaccine as early as the starting of next year. "Phase 2 clinical trial for COVID-19 vaccine is underway in India with a good sample size of more than 600 motivated volunteers. Any vaccine will come by mid-next year, if everything goes as planned," Community Medicine Department head added. On the Sero-survey conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr. Rai said the survey only shows the direction of infection while testing shows the actual number of infections.
Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Dr Balram Bhargava said three vaccine candidates are at different clinical trial stages in India. Covid-19 vaccine candidates being manufactured by Cadila Healthcare and Bharat Biotech have completed the first phase of the trial while the Serum Institute of India (SII) will begin with Phase 3 trial after getting the nod, Balram Bhargava, ICMR’s director general, said during the health ministry’s briefing.The Pune-based Serum Institute will conduct the Phase 3 trial on 1,500 volunteers across 14 locations, Bhargava added.
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Director General of Indian Council of Medical Research, Balram Bhargava on September 15 informed about the COVID-19 vaccines trial stage in India. He said, Cadila and Bharat Biotech have completed phase-I trials and Serum Institute has completed phase II-B3 trials, and will start phase-III trials after clearance. He said, "3 vaccines are at clinical trial stage in India. Cadila and Bharat Biotech have completed phase-I trials. Serum Institute has completed phase II-B3 trials, and will start phase-III trial (with 1500 patients at 14 locations) after clearances."
Indian Council of Medical Research, Director General Dr. Balram Bhargava during Health Ministry's briefing on COVID-19 situation in India informed about the sero survey publication. Bhargava said, "ICMR sero survey is publication in-progress. It should appear by this week in the Indian Journal of Medical Research. It has been peer reviewed. The second national sero-survey should be completed in the first week September". On situation of COVID-19 vaccines in India, Balram Bhargava said, "Three COVID-19 vaccines are ahead in the race in India. Serum Institute's vaccine is in phase 2(B) and phase 3 trials and Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila's vaccines have completed phase 1 trial."
State police clashed with contractual police personnel protesting in Ranchi. Police baton-charged contractual personnel protesting over regularization of jobs. Protests have been happening in various..
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