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ICMR asks Indian states to stop using Chinese rapid test kits
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), here on Tuesday, asked states to stop use of rapid testing kits of Covid-19 for at least two days as they were giving inaccurate results.
Addressing the media, ICMR Chief Scientist Raman Gangakhedkar said, "We had received complaints from one state on Monday. On Tuesday, we asked two more states if they also experienced the problem. The difference in results of RT-PCR positive samples is huge, 6 to 71 per cent, at some places. We have advised states to halt its use for two days."
A lot of variations were observed in results of positive samples, tested by RT-PCR which was not good, he said and added, the ICMR would be in a position to give any advisory in at least two days.
The reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) is a laboratory technique combining reverse transcription of RNA into DNA and amplification of specific DNA targets using polymerase chain reaction (PCR).
The kits would be tested and validated by the on-ground teams instead of labs as Covid-19 was a new disease and the testing kits required to be refined, he said.
"We will deploy teams of our 8 institutes for on-ground validation of kits. If problems were found, those batches of kits would be sent to the manufacturing company for replacement," Gangakhedkar said.
The ICMR has received 500,000 rapid test kits from two Chinese companies - Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics.
When West Bengal accused the ICMR of sending faulty kits, it refuted the charges saying the kits should be stored in below 20 degree Celsius temperature to get accurate results. It also said if the variation in results was not big then there was no need to worry.
But now the ICMR has said any new observation about the testing kits would not be taken lightly and would be cross-checked thoroughly.
COVID-19 cases mount to 18,601 in India, 590 deaths
With 1,336 new cases in last 24 hours, the total tally of COVID-19 cases stood at 18,601 on Tuesday morning, the Ministry of Health and Family welfare said.
The health ministry in the morning update said that of the total cases, 14,759 are active cases, with 590 casualties.
"At least 3,252 people have been cured and discharged from the hospital while one person has migrated," said the Ministry, adding that there are at least 77 foreign nationals, affected with the disease.
Maharashtra continued to be the worst hit with 4,666 total cases, followed by Delhi with 2,081 cases and 47 fatalities. Rajaasthan has witnessed 1,576 cases and 25 deaths while Tamil Nadu has seen 1,520 cases and 17 deaths so far.
80% Covid-19 cases in India are asymptomatic or with mild symptoms: Health Ministry
The Health Ministry on Monday warned that 80 per cent of all coronavirus patients are asymptomatic or show mild symptoms.
"On the basis of worldwide analysis, out of 100 coronavirus patients, 80 per cent are asymptomatic or show mild symptoms. Around 15 per cent patients turn into severe cases and five percent cases turn into critical cases," said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, at the daily press briefing.
Raman Gangakhedkar, head of infectious disease and epidemiology at the ICMR, also said that 80 out of 100 people do not show symptoms and therefore chances are that they test positive.
The comments came against the backdrop of concerns that there may be asymptomatic people who are yet to be detected.
Coronavirus cases mount to 17,265 in India, 543 deaths
With 1,553 new cases in 24 hours, the total tally of novel coronavirus cases stood at 17,265 on Monday, the Ministry of Health and Family welfare said.
The health ministry in morning update said that, of the total cases, 14,175 are active cases, with 543 casualties.
"At least 2,546 people have been cured and discharged from the hospital while one person has migrated," said the Ministry, adding "there are at least 77 foreign nationals, affected with the disease.
Maharashtra continued to be the worst hit with 4,203 cases and 223 deaths, followed by Delhi with 2,003 cases and 45 fatalities, Rajasthan (1,478 cases and 14 deaths) and Tamil Nadu (1,477 cases and 15 deaths)
China gets 130-billion-pound bill from Germany for corona damages
China is facing a backlash from major European powers after suspicions over its role in the coronavirus pandemic which has caused 1 lakh deaths in Europe.
The Express UK reported that that a major German newspaper has put together a 130-billion-pound invoice that Beijing "owes" Berlin following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
European powers like Germany, France, the UK and the US have unleashed criticism at China after findings have surfaced that China may have covered up the outbreak.
Germany's largest tabloid newspaper, Bild, joined this attack by drawing up an itemised invoice for Euro 149 billion (130 billion pounds).
The list includes a Euro 27 billion charge for lost tourism revenue, up to euro 7.2 billion for the German film industry, a million euros an hour for German airline Lufthansa and euro 50 billion for German small businesses.
Bild calculated that this amounts to euro 1,784 (1,550 pounds) per person if Germany's GDP falls by 4.2 per cent, under the title "What China owes us."
Express UK reported that China has responded by claiming the invoice "stirs up xenophobia and nationalism".
Bild Editor-in-Chief Julian Reichelt rebutted the criticism, saying: "We asked in our newspaper Bild whether China should pay for the massive economic damage the coronavirus is inflicting worldwide.
"Xi Jinping, your government and your scientists had to know long ago that coronavirus is highly infectious, but you left the world in the dark about it."
"Your top experts didn't respond when Western researchers asked to know what was going on in Wuhan. You were too proud and too nationalistic to tell the truth, which you felt was a national disgrace."
On Saturday, US President Donald Trump warned that China should face consequences if it was "knowingly responsible" for unleashing the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump told reporters: "It could have been stopped in China before it started and it wasn't, and the whole world is suffering because of it.
"If it was a mistake, a mistake is a mistake. But if they were knowingly responsible, then there should be consequences."
He said the Chinese were "embarrassed" and the question was whether what happened with the coronavirus was "a mistake that got out of control, or was it done deliberately?"
Wuhan lab intern accidentally leaked Covid-19 virus: US media
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday acknowledged Fox News report that the novel coronavirus (nCoV) may have been accidentally leaked by an intern working at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.
The Fox News in an exclusive report based on unnamed sources has claimed that though the virus is a naturally occurring strain among bats and not a bioweapon, but it was being studied in Wuhan laboratory. The initial transmission of the virus was bat-to-human, the news channel said, adding that the "patient zero" worked at the laboratory. The lab employee was accidentally infected before spreading the disease among the common people outside the lab in Wuhan city.
The Wuhan wet market initially identified as the place of origin, Fox News said, never sold bats. However, China blamed the wet market to deflect blame from the laboratory, the report said.
The virus was being studied in the lab as an attempt by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to "demonstrate that its efforts to identify and combat viruses are equal to or greater than the capabilities of the United States," Fox News said quoting multiple sources.
At the daily White House briefing of the US President on Wednesday, Fox News reporter John Roberts while asking Trump about the claims said, "Multiple sources are telling Fox News today that the United States now has high confidence that, while the coronavirus is a naturally occurring virus, it emanated from a virology lab in Wuhan, that, because of lax safety protocols, an intern was infected, who later infected her boyfriend, and then went to the wet market in Wuhan, where it then began to spread."
President Trump neither confirmed nor denied the report, but noted that "more and more we're hearing the story a" and we'll see." "We are doing a very thorough examination of this horrible situation that happened," the President added.
When pressed by Roberts about whether he had raised Chinese lab security in his recent call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Trump said, "I don't want to discuss what I talked to him about the laboratory. It's inappropriate right now."
The news channel said that China initially made efforts to cover up the outbreak. Quoting a source, the report said that this could be the "costliest government cover-up of all time." Sources also characterized the World Health Organization (WHO) as being part of a cover-up from the very beginning, the report said.
As per a recent Washington Post, two years ago, the US embassy officials in China raised concerns about the insufficient biosafety at the Chinese government's Wuhan Institute of Virology where deadly viruses and infectious diseases are studied.
Though the institute, located quite close to the Wuhan wet market, is China's first biosafety level IV lab, the US state department had warned in 2018 about "serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory".
Wuhan's revised COVID-19 death toll up by 50% to 3,869
Wuhan city, the capital of China's Hubei province where the global coronavirus pandemic originated last December, on Friday revised the number of deaths caused by the disease in the city, leading to some 50 per cent increase in the figures.
The revised death toll is 3,869, which is 1,290 more than the 2,579 reported barely hours earlier by the National Health Commission, which had pegged the number of fatalities for Hubei province to 3,222, reports Efe news.
The Wuhan authorities have also revised the total number of COVID-19 cases, revealing another 325 previously unreported cases, which took the total number to 50,333, Xinhua news agency reported.
In an announcement, the Wuhan municipal headquarters for the COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control said the revisions were made as per the laws and regulations concerned, and out of the principle of being responsible for history, the people and the deceased.
It added that this would ensure that the information on the city's COVID-19 epidemic was open and transparent, and the data accurate.
Moreover, it gave four reasons for the "discrepancies" in the figures.
The first reason was that "a surging number of patients at the early stage of the epidemic overwhelmed medical resources and the admission capacity of medical institutions," resulting in some deaths at home without treatment in hospitals.
The second reason was that at the peak of the epidemic in the city, "hospitals were operating beyond their capacities and medical staff were preoccupied with saving and treating patients, resulting in belated, missed and mistaken reporting."
The third reason given was that due to a rapid increase of designated hospitals for treating COVID-19 patients - including provincial, municipal, private and makeshift ones - some medical institutions were "not linked to the epidemic information network and failed to report their data in time."
The final reason given was "the registered information of some of the deceased patients was incomplete, and there were repetitions and mistakes in the reporting".
An official of the headquarters told the media that a group for epidemic-related big data and epidemiological investigations was established in late March.
The group used information from online systems and collected full information from all epidemic-related locations to ensure that facts about every case are accurate and every figure is objective and correct, the official said.
"What lies behind epidemic data are the lives and health of the general public, as well as the credibility of the government," said the official, adding that the timely revision of the figures, among other things, shows respect for every single life.
India's COVID-19 tally mounts to 13,387; 437 fatalities
The total number of coronavirus cases in India reached 13387 on Friday morning, including 76 foreign nationals, with 11,201 active cases, the Union Health Ministry said.
The Health Ministry said in its daily update that 437 deaths have been reported in India so far, with the highest -- 194 -- getting reported from Maharashtra, followed by Madhya Pradesh, where 53 deaths have been reported so far.
"A total of 1,748 patients have been cured and discharged," the Health Ministry said.
Maharashtra remained the worst hit state with total number of positive cases rising to 3,205, followed by Delhi at 1,640 cases, Tamil Nadu at 1,267 cases and Rajasthan at 1,131 cases, according to the Health Ministry data.
325 districts in India are Covid-19 free, no case in 27 in 14 days
There has been no coronavirus case in 325 of the 736 districts in India and also no one has tested positive in 27 districts of 17 states in the past 14 days, according to the Union Health Ministry, here on Thursday.
In the past 24 hours, 941 fresh Covid-19 cases and 37 deaths had been reported, said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary at the Health Ministry.
Stating that 12.02 per cent people have recovered from the coronavirus infection, Agarwal said lockdown and containment measures were proving beneficial.
The Ministry said of the 12,380 Covid-19 cases in the country, the number of active cases was 10,477. So far, 414 people have succumbed to the disease and 1,488 recovered.
Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said it had received 500,000 testing kits, including rapid anti-body kits, from two Chinese companies with 80 per cent sensitivity and 84 per cent specificity.
The ICMR said these kits were not meant for early diagnosis, but only for epidemiology purposes.
Total tally crosses 12,000 mark in India
With 941 new cases the total number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in India mounted to 12,380 stated the data published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday.
Of these, 10,477 are active cases of COVID-19, 1,488 individuals have recovered and discharged from the hospital, one person migrated to another country and 414 people succumbed to the disease.
The total confirmed cases include 76 foreign nationals.
Maharashtra remained the worst hit state with a total number of positive cases rising to 2,916, followed by New Delhi with 1,578 cases and Tamil Nadu, which has reported 1,242 cases and Rajasthan with 1,023 cases. according to the Health Ministry data.
9,756 active cases in India; 11.41% people recovered: Health Ministry
The Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday that 11.41 per cent of coronavirus patients have recovered from the infection and a total of 170 districts have been identified with hotspots, while 207 have been identified as non-hotspots.
The total number of confirmed cases in India is 11,439, while 377 people have succumbed to the disease and 1,305 people have been cured. The total number of active cases in the country is 9,756. A total of 1,076 cases have been added in the last 24 hours, said the Health Ministry.
Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary at the Health Ministry, said the rate of recovery of coronavirus patients is gradually increasing and 11.41 per cent of patients have recovered from the disease.
"We are focusing on following the proper protocol for the treatment of Covid-19 patients, especially people in the high-risk group and patients with comorbidities," said Agarwal while emphasising on saving lives from the viral infection.
He added that Covid-19 hotspots and green zones have been identified after conducting door-to-door surveys.
Agarwal said that states have been issued guidelines for dealing with Covid-19 hotspots across the country and special teams will search for new patients.
He insisted that movement will not be allowed in the containment zones except those related to essential services. He repeated that no community transmission has been noticed so far, though there have been some local outbreaks.
Coronavirus cases in India surge past 11,000
The total number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in India mounted to 11,439 stated the data published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday.
Of these, 9,756 are active cases of COVID-19, 1,305 individuals have recovered and discharged from the hospital, one person migrated to another country and 377 people succumbed to the disease.
Maharashtra remained the worst hit state with a total number of positive cases rising to 2,687, followed by New Delhi with 1,561 cases and Tamil Nadu, which has reported 1,204 cases, according to the Health Ministry data.
France extends COVID-19 lockdown until 11th May
French President Emmanuel Macron announced that the ongoing lockdown imposed to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has been extended till May 11, as the country witnessed over 570 deaths due to the disease in 24 hours.
On Monday, death toll from the novel coronavirus increased to 14,967, after 574 fatalities were reported in a span of one day, Xinhua news agency quoted the Health Ministry as saying.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases rose to 137,877, although infections dropped for the fifth day in a row, it added.
In his third TV appearance since the pandemic hit the country, Macron said on Monday evening: "The epidemic is starting to slow down. The results are there. Thanks to your efforts, everyday we have made progress.
"Hope is reborn but nothing is settled... Everywhere in French mainland or overseas, the (health) system is under pressure and the epidemic is not yet under control.
"We must therefore continue our efforts and apply the rules. The more we respect the rules, the more lives we save. This is why strict containment must continue until May 11."
The announcement came two days before the current confinement, which started on March 17, was due to end on April 15.
Under the lockdown, people can only leave their homes to buy food and medicine or for work, while all non-essential businesses and open-air markets have been closed, and schools were shut down.
People are allowed to go out for a walk with their children or to exercise once a day for no more than one hour, and within 1 km of their homes.
Stressing that the prolonged lockdown was "the only way to work effectively and the condition to further slow down the virus spread", the President in his address stressed that the restrictions already put in place must be strictly respected in the coming four weeks.
The recommendation of the scientific council, which advises the government on the epidemic crisis, was for at least six-week strict containment after it was put in place, which means till the end of April.
An end of the confinement would be possible if pressure on intensive care units eases, the virus circulation slows down and there are sufficient stocks of equipment, including masks and testing kits, it said.
796 new cases in past 24 hours takes India's total corona cases to over 9,150: Health Ministry
The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Monday that at least 141 people have recovered from novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
Addressing the daily press briefing, Joint Secretary at the Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal, said, "Total number of Covid-19 cases reported so far in the country is 9,152. At least 141 people have recovered in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cured persons to 857. A total of 796 new cases and 35 deaths have been reported since yesterday."
Agarwal told the media that the containment measures taken by the government have started showing results on the field.
"At least 25 districts from 15 states have not reported any new case since the last 14 days. These are Gondia in Maharashtra, Rajnandgaon, Durg, Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, Davangiri, Kodagu, Tumkuru, Udupi in Karnataka, South Goa, Wayanad and Kottayam in Kerala, West Imphal in Manipur, Rajouri in J&K, Aizawl West in Mizoram, Mahe in Puducherry, SBS Nagar in Punjab, Patna, Nalanda and Munger in Bihar, Pratapgarh in Rajasthan, Panipat, Rohtak, Sirsa in Haryana, Pauri Garhwal in Uttrakhand, and Bhadradri Kothagudem in Telangana," Agarwal said.
China's new COVID-19 cases rise to near six-week high
China reported the highest number of new coronavirus cases in nearly six weeks on Monday, as it tried to prevent a second wave of COVID-19 infections, a media report said.
Having largely stamped out domestic transmission of the disease, China, where the pandemic originated last December, has been slowly easing curbs on movement as it tries to get its economy back on track, but there were fears that a rise in imported cases could spark a second wave of the pandemic - especially among Chinese citizens returning from abroad, said the South China Morning Post report.
Authorities repoted 108 new coronavirus infections over the past day, including 98 cases among travellers returning from abroad, according to data released on Monday by the National Health Commission.
This is the highest number of reported infections since March 6, when authorities reported 143 new cases.
Beijing on March 28 banned the entry of foreigners into China.
Around 300 cases of the coronavirus had been confirmed in the city by Saturday, including 100 infected people who did not appear to be showing any symptoms, the South China Morning Post reported.
China has so far reported 82,160 coronavirus cases including 3,341 deaths and 77,663 recovered patients.
New model predicts peak of US active COVID-19 cases in late April
A new data-driven mathematical model of the novel coronavirus pandemic predicts that the United States will peak in the number of "active" COVID-19 cases around April 20, which marks a critical milestone on the demand for medical resources, said a University of Washington study.
"We predict that the United States is on course to reach this point in the coming weeks," said Ka-Kit Tung, a professor of applied mathematics at the University of Washington. "It is a point of maximum strain on a country's health and medical infrastructure."
For the United States, this model predicts that the number of "active" COVID-19 cases - individuals who have been diagnosed but haven't recovered or died - will peak on April 20, plus or minus four days, and will then slowly decline as the number of cases entering the medical system becomes less than the number of cases leaving the medical system, reported Xinhua news agency.
The US outbreak will taper off in the first week of June with projections of 710,000 total cases but could be up to 990,000; and 28,000 deaths, but could be up to 39,000, if the current US fatality rate of 4 per cent holds, according to the analysis.
The predictions differ significantly from the Imperial College London projections of a longer outbreak with 40 per cent to 80 per cent of the US population infected and 1.1 to 2.2 million deaths. The results from the model used by Imperial College London differed significantly because it relied on separate assumptions about COVID-19 and the predictions were generated when key parameters, such as its infection rates, were unknown, according to Tung.
The model finds that the length of outbreaks will also vary by country. Germany and Italy will take a week longer than the Chinese city of Wuhan to reach their turning point in active COVID-19 cases. The United States is projected to take two weeks longer than Wuhan considering that the United States has no national lockdown, though a majority of states have issued stay-at-home orders, said Tung.
Norden Huang and Fangli Qiao, both from the First Institute of Oceanography's Data Analysis Laboratory in Qingdao, China, created the model with Tung. Their paper describing the analysis is not yet peer-reviewed but has been submitted to a journal for consideration. Their study was posted on March 30 to the preprint site medRxiv.
The researchers tested the model's efficacy using COVID-19 data from China. With an accuracy of a few days, their model predicted key events in the outbreak's growth, spread and decline of COVID-19 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province and the rest of China including the peak of new cases, the peak of active cases and the subsidence of the epidemic. the study said.
COVID-19 slows down in Europe, WHO still against lifting restrictions
As some of the European countries hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic are starting to see signs of slowing in infections, the World Health Organization (WHO) sounded a stern warning against lifting restrictions too soon, saying it could lead to a deadly resurgence of COVID-19.
"In the past week, we've seen a welcome slowing in some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, like Spain, Italy, Germany and France," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a regular press briefing on Friday, reported Xinhua news agency.
As "some countries are already planning the transition out of stay-at-home restrictions," the WHO chief warned that "lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence."
"The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly," he said, underlining that the WHO is working with affected countries on strategies for gradually and safely easing restrictions.
The novel coronavirus has claimed 13,197 lives in France. But the country is witnessing a decline in the number of critically-ill patients on Friday for a second consecutive day, a "pale ray of sunshine," according to Director General of Health Jerome Salomon.
In Spain, where the total number of infection cases has reached 157,022, and death toll stood at 15,843, the single-day numbers of new cases and related deaths dropped on Friday for the second day in a row, according to the data collected by the Spanish Ministry for Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare.
Italy is also witnessing a drop in those hospitalized and those in intensive care, as total fatalities in the country amounted to 18,849 by Friday.
Nonetheless, Italy remains one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, with nearly 150,000 infections. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday extended the country's national coronavirus lockdown by "at least" additional 20 days to May 3.
Some European countries are already considering relaxing their restriction measures as they see a slowing trend in the number of COVID-19 infections. Austria, for instance, aims to gradually ease the exit restrictions and reopen shops and businesses from mid-April. Switzerland also suggested "the first relaxations" by the end of April.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that a further tightening of restrictions on daily life in Germany is not necessary at present.
"The curve is flattening out," said Merkel at the Chancellery. The latest COVID-19 infection figures in Germany gave "reason for cautious hope." But she stressed that it would be necessary to be "very, very careful" with relaxing the current restrictions.
The European Union (EU) on Wednesday proposed prolonging travel restriction at its external borders. The European Commission said in a statement that it invited Schengen member states and Schengen associated states to prolong the temporary restriction on non-essential travel to the EU until May 15.
White House experts warn against relaxing social distancing rules
America's top medical experts on the White House coronavirus task force Dr. Deborah Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci pointed to encouraging signs that the US infection curve is levelling off but warned against relaxing social distancing guidelines and declaring victory too early.
The doctors' comments come on a day when the world passed a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from the pandemic and America's death toll crossed 18,000. More than 4 in 10 deaths in the US have come from New York State, which reported 777 new deaths on Friday.
"You can see for the first time that in the United States we're starting to level on the logarithmic phase, like Italy did about a week ago. And so this gives us great heart," Dr. Birx said at a White House briefing on Friday.
Hope springs from New York's hospitalisation rate slowing consistently throughout this week. The numbers are down to the below 300 level compared with more than 1000 per day last week.
The nation's top infectious-diseases expert Dr. Fauci cautioned that the virus' trajectory decides the timeline of when social distancing rules are relaxed.
"The one thing you don't want to do is you don't want to get out there prematurely and then wind up backtracking," he said as US president Donald Trump looked on.
Trump has been enthusiastic about reopening the economy as soon as possible.
Both Fauci and Birx have doubled down on their public messaging from the White House megaphone that social distancing does work and is blunting the curve in ways that weren't clear even a week ago.
Exactly 10 days ago, the predictive model most frequently quoted by the White House had projected 100,000-200,000 total deaths in the US. Today, that projection has been revised downwards to around 61,000 deaths.
Indian govt directs states, UTs not to allow religious gatherings
Ahead of ensuing festivals this month, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday directed all the states and the Union Territories (UTs) not to allow any social or religious gathering and ensure strict compliance of lockdown to contain spread of Covid-19.
In a fresh letter to the Chief Secretaries of all states and UTs, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla instructed them to inform district authorities and field agencies on the specific prohibitions as mentioned in the consolidated guidelines on lockdown measures.
He also directed them to take "all required precautionary and preventive measures for maintenance of law and order, peace and public tranquillity".
"In view of the ensuing festivals in the month of April 2020, Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has directed all states and UTs to ensure strict compliance of lockdown measures to fight COVID-19 and not allow any social and religious gathering or procession," a Home Ministry statement said.
The instruction came in view of Baisakhi, and Ambedkar Jayanti which will be celebrated on April 13, and April 14 respectively, while Ramadan will begin April 23.
US death toll crosses 16,500; 11% under 25 years testing positive: White House
In the US, 11 out of 100 people under the age of 25, 17 per cent of those in the 25 to 45 age group and 21 per cent of those between 45 and 65 years who presented with symptoms have tested positive for coronavirus, according to age-wise testing data available for the first time from the White House on a day when America's death toll climbed past the 16,500 mark with total confirmed cases more than 462,000.
On the same day, New York State suffered the deadliest blow, posting a record-breaking increase in coronavirus deaths for a third consecutive day even as hospitalisations and intubations slowed, suggesting the curve is finally flattening. The net 200-patient increase in hospitalisations is the lowest since the nightmare began.
White House data is also showing that US men are testing positive at a much higher rate than women.
Data on those under 25 years were drawn from a universe of 200,000 tests while more than half a million people in the 25-45 years age group and in the 45-65 age group have been tested, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, who is coordinating the White House response to the pandemic.
Among 200,000 people in the 65-85 age group, Birx reported 22 percent positive tests and a slightly higher 24 per cent positivity level among 30,000 people above 85 years who were tested.
The pattern emerging from the US testing data are consistent with insights the White House has absorbed from attack rates in other countries which have come off their infection peaks, especially Europe.
Birx urged American men who are symptomatic to get tested. So far, nearly 6 in 10 people who have been tested are female while a little more than 4 in 10 are men. Positivity rates are 16 per cent for women and 23 per cent for men.
"Men often don't present in the healthcare delivery system until they have greater symptomatology. This is to all of our men out there no matter what age group. If you have symptoms, you should be tested, and make sure that you are tested," Birx said.
More than 6 in 10 states, Birx said, have less than 10 percent positive rate "despite significant testing".
"Issues around those with comorbidities and those of the elderly" continue to be the dominant concerns, according to Birx.
Despite the rising tide of horrible news, the White House task force remains focused on the upside of mitigation efforts which are showing up as flatter curves in outbreaks outside the New York and New Jersey metro areas.
Birx said the curves in Washington, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Denver "are much lower than New York and New Jersey and this gives us hope".
America's top infectious diseases expert on the White House task force Dr Anthony Fauci backed up Birx's comments saying America is headed in the "right direction".
"That means that what we are doing is working, and therefore we need to continue to do it. I know I sound like a broken record, that's good - I want to sound like a broken record, let's just keep doing it," Fauci said about continued adherence to social distancing guidelines in place since March 16.
Predictive models from the Institute For Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington which earlier projected a nationwide death toll of 100,000-200,000 have now revised downwards to a little over 60,000 deaths by August first week of this year. These models assume "full social distancing" in place.
Lockdown tightened in Mumbai's 'carefree' Dharavi
The police and health authorities have tightened the lockdown in Dharavi, Asia's biggest slum amid growing fears of coronavirus spreading here, officials said on Thursday.
At least 10 localities in the 2.25 sq. kms area have been red-flagged and all movement of people stopped, all shops and establishments, fruit/vegetable markets or vendors, hawkers, etc, have been shut down, barring pharmacies.
To minimise peoples' unrest in the area, the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), plans to come up with a scheme for doorstep delivery of essentials shortly.
Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad, who represents Dharavi constituency, along with Health Minister Rajesh Tope visited hospitals and quarantine centres in her constituency on Wednesday for a spot assessment of the situation.
"We have requested state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh to direct the police to strictly enforce lockdown in this area to prevent the spread of coronavirus. We have also requested the government to provide more ventilators for the hospitals here, speed up test reports for those in quarantine as more and more people keep coming here daily," Gaikwad told mediapersons after the cabinet meeting on Thursday.
Dharavi -- the most congested place on the planet -- has over 200,000 families living and working here, besides more than 20,000 big and small businesses generating revenues of an estimated Rs 7,000 crore annually.
Considered a ticking time-bomb in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dharavi has recorded two deaths and at least another 13 positive patients till date, sparking alarm among the civic and state health authorities struggling to contain the further spread of the coronavirus in Mumbai and rest of Maharashtra.
Despite the obvious risks, most people in Dharavi seem oblivious of the invisible dangers around them and continue to move around in a carefree manner, with all social distancing norms thrown to the winds.
COVID-19 total tally reaches 5,734 in India, 166 dead: Ministry data
The total tally of novel coronavirus cases in India reached up to 5,734 on Thursday, the data of Union Health Ministry said.
As per the Ministry data, of the total number, 5,095 are active cases, 166 are dead, one has migrated, while 472 people have been discharged after recovery.
Maharashtra is the worst affected state so far with 1,135 active cases, 117 cured and discharged and 72 have died.
After Maha, Tamil Nadu is the second worst affected area with 738 active case, 21 cured and eight deaths.
Gujrat total tally may have been low but it's the worst hit in terms of death with 16 deaths i.e. maximum deaths after Maharashtra.
While the cases aren't taking a stall, another of assault on doctors was reported from the national capital last night.
A man in Delhi's Gautam Nagar assaulted two female doctors of Safdarjung Hospital on Thursday.
The alleged incident took place while the two female doctors were buying grocery on Wednesday night.
Speaking to IANS, Dr Manish, President, Resident Doctors Association, Safdarjung Hospital said, "The two doctors are posted in the Emergency Ward. At around 9 p.m. while they were buying vegetables, a man asked them to step aside accusing them for spreading coronavirus."
"The man said that you come from the hospital and spread coronavirus, when the doctors resisted and argued, the man slapped them and even twisted their hand. The local residents came in an helped the two woman but the man escaped from the spot."
A FIR has been registered in connection with the incident.
Labs in India should not overcharge for COVID-19 tests, observes SC
The Supreme Court on Wednesday suggested private labs should not charge exorbitantly for COVID-19 tests, and asked the Centre to explore a mechanism wherein the amount spend on these tests could be reimbursed.
The observation from the apex court came on a petition that sought its direction to ensure free COVID-19 testing for all citizens - both in government and private labs.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan observed, amid the ongoing public health crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, that the private laboratories should not charge heavily for such tests.
After the court asked the Centre, represented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, to consider developing a reimbursement mechanism, Mehta said that he will take instructions from the government on this matter.
During the hearing through videoconferencing, Mehta contended that 118 labs in India have a total capacity of conducting 15,000 tests per day, and 47 private labs too had been been roped in.
When Justice Bhushan insisted on not allowing labs to charge money for corona tests, Mehta said it was a developing situation for the labs and thus difficult to ascertain how many more were required. Also to be condered was the duration this lockdown would continue.
The petition filed by advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi challenged the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) advisory to fix maximum Rs 4,500 for corona test by private entities.
The petition also sought direction that all such tests be conducted by accredited pathological laboratories, and to strike down the ICMR advisory for allegedly being violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.
Suggesting free tests, the petitioner also claimed that capping test charges at private labs violates the ideals and values of the Constitution.
Crowd swarm trains as Wuhan lifts outbound travel ban
As cars queued up at expressway toll gates and passengers prepared to board trains to leave Wuhan, the megacity in central China started lifting outbound travel restrictions from Wednesday after almost 11 weeks of lockdown to stem the spread of COVID-19.
At Fuhe toll gate in nothern Wuhan, cars honked horns and rushed out after barricades were removed at midnight, Xinhua news agency reported.
Guo Lei, who ran a business in Wuhan, drove his car with six other people aboard to the toll gate at around 8.40 p.m. and waited for a homebound trip.
"I can't wait returning to my hometown," said Guo, a native of east China's Shandong Province. "I have lived in Wuhan for eight years. During the Spring Festival holiday, my relatives came to the city and helped me deliver goods. We were all stranded here due to the epidemic."
Big data from Wuhan traffic police forecasted the expressways would see the peak of outbound vehicles on Wednesday.
As more enterprises resume their operations, Wuhan has seen an increase of nearly 400,000 vehicles in transit in the past half month, and the number is expected to reach 1.8 million after Wednesday, according to the city's traffic police.
Traffic police will release real-time traffic information through radio stations, online social platforms, and map apps.
"I'm very happy to see the lockdown was lifted. The reopening of outbound traffic represents the epidemic situation has improved, and our hard work over the past two months has paid off," said Fang Jing, a staff member of an expressway toll station in Wuhan.
"We still need to protect ourselves from the virus and remind passengers to pay attention to personal health since the epidemic is not yet over," Fang added.
At Wuchang Railway Station, a total of 442 passengers jumped on the train K81 early Wednesday, which is heading for Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province.
More than 55,000 passengers are expected to leave Wuhan by train on Wednesday, and about 40 percent of them are going to the Pearl River Delta Region. A total of 276 passenger trains will leave Wuhan for Shanghai, Shenzhen and other cities.
The railway authorities required passengers to scan health codes and have temperatures checked when entering the stations and wear masks to reduce the risks of infection.
Workers have disinfected bullet trains, the entrance and exits, waiting halls and platforms of the railway stations in advance.
Wuhan Tianhe International Airport started resuming domestic passenger flights early Wednesday. The airport is expected to see more than 200 inbound and outbound flights on the day, according to the airport.
On January 23, Wuhan declared unprecedented traffic restrictions, including suspending the city's public transport and all outbound flights and trains, in an attempt to contain the epidemic.
JK Rowling shares breathing techniques to recover from Covid-19
Amid the rapid spread of the deadly coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, acclaimed author J.K. Rowling has shared a post on her Twitter account, showing techniques she used to overcome the symptoms of Covid-19 after two weeks of illness.
The "Harry Potter" author shared the video with the caption: "Please watch this doc from Queens Hospital explain how to relieve respiratory symptoms. For last 2 weeks, I've had all symptoms of C19 (tho haven't been tested) & did this on doc husband's advice. I've fully recovered & technique helped a lot."
"I really am completely recovered and wanted to share a technique that's recommended by doctors, costs nothing, has no nasty side effects but could help you/your loved ones a lot, as it did me. Stay safe, everyone," she added.
In the video posted by Rowling, a UK hospital doctor named Sarfaraz Munshi describes a vital breathing technique for Covid-19 sufferers that could prevent the patients from contracting secondary pneumonia, which could prove dangerous to health.
Please watch this doc from Queens Hospital explain how to relieve respiratory symptoms. For last 2 weeks I've had all symptoms of C19 (tho haven't been tested) & did this on doc husband's advice. I'm fully recovered & technique helped a lot.https://t.co/xo8AansUvc via @YouTube— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) April 6, 2020
We are grateful for the overwhelming response we received when we put out a call for volunteer obstetricians and gynecologists, and we already have 50 doctors on board. We are currently looking for more pediatricians. (3/4)— ARMMAN (@armmanindia) April 15, 2020
We are thrilled to share that @armmanindia has won the prestigious Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship 2020 with a grant of $1.5 million! It is a moment of great pride and joy for us to receive this recognition from @SkollFoundation and join their global community of #SocEnts pic.twitter.com/Uv07MeRlHM— ARMMAN (@armmanindia) April 2, 2020