Indian Talley Crosses 8,000; Panel Set Up For Vaccine

The Central government has set up a high-level task force to work on “frontiers of science related to vaccines and drug testing” to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

“In order to defeat the coronavirus, a high-level task force has been formed to work on frontiers of science related to vaccines and drug testing,” said Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare here, on Sunday.

With 31 deaths and 1,324 new cases reported in the last 24 hours, India’s total count of coronavirus positive cases rose to 16,116. This includes 13,295 active cases, 2,302 cured, discharged, migrated and 519 deaths, said Aggarwal during a daily media briefing on the status of coronavirus.

“This task force will comprise members from NITI Aayog, Ayush, ICMR, CSIR, DRDO, and Ministry of Science and Technology. The main aim of this task force will be to identify pathways for vaccine development,” said Aggarwal.

“The Department of Biotechnology has been designated as the central co-ordination agency for the development of the vaccine to fight COVID-19,” he added.

Aggarwal said that some relaxation will be provided after April 20 in some selected areas.

“There will be some relaxations from midnight. States and UTs will ensure social distancing and other measures. However, there will be no relaxation in hotspots and containment zones,” he said.

“Necessary services will be provided in hotspots and content zones. Passenger movement will be banned till May 3. Rail, airlines, malls and cinema houses will continue to remain closed. All types of gathering are prohibited in all areas,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance on Sunday said that more than Rs 36,659 crore was transferred to the bank accounts of 16.01 crore beneficiaries between March 17 and April 17 of the lockdown period.

“More than Rs 36,659 crore has been transferred by using Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) through Public Financial Management System (PFMS) in the bank accounts of 16.01 crore beneficiaries during COVID-19 lockdown (the period between March 24, 2020, to April 17, 2020),” the Finance Ministry said in a statement.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Sunday decided to set up a committee to provide employment to the five lakh workers who entered the State in the last 45 days from different parts of the country amid the coronavirus lockdown.

“In a meeting today, the Chief Minister ordered to set up a committee aimed at providing employment to 5 lakh workers, who have come to the state in the last 45 days from different parts of the country,” said Awanish K Awasthi, Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department.

Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Sunday said that all COVID-19 positive cases in the State have tested negative and thanked the medical staff for saving the lives of the people.

“Zero indeed has great value. Immensely happy to announce that all the COVID-19 positive cases in Goa are now negative. Very grateful to our doctors and frontline workers who worked tirelessly and risked their lives to save others,” said Rane in a tweet.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday said that there shall be no movement of labour outside the State or the Union Territory where they are currently located.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Sunday said that a total of 3,86,791 COVID-19 tests have been conducted so far in the country.

Out of these tests, over 37,000 tests were conducted on April 18 out of which 29,287 tests were done in the labs of the ICMR network.

During a press briefing here, Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar, head scientist of ICMR, said: “We have done 3,86,791 tests so far. Yesterday 37,173 tests were done, out of which 29,287 tests were done in the labs of the ICMR network. 7,886 tests were conducted in private sector labs.”

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued an advisory against the spraying of disinfectant on individuals and groups for COVID-19 management, saying that it was physically and psychologically harmful.

Here’s a quick read on COVID-19 related updates:

  1. In a heartwarming development, two women who had tested positive for the novel coronavirus delivered healthy babies at Mumbai’s BYL Nair hospital on Sunday.

The doctor said that both the children have tested negative for the deadly virus but could not be breastfed as there are chances of virus transmission.

  1. As the nation is set to witness easing of some lockdown norms from Monday, the Lok Sabha Secretariat has allowed its officials to join office while maintaining social distancing and other safeguards against COVID-19.

According to an order issued by the Secretariat, only 33 per cent of the staff will be allowed to attend at any given day and individuals would need to sit at a distance of at least 6 feet away from each other, and work at staggered hours.

  1. Some financial activities will start in Maharashtra from Monday onwards, said Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. “Tomorrow onwards, we are starting some financial activities. If we don’t run our economy now, we will be in a financial crisis after we come out of the corona crisis,” said the Chief Minister during a press conference.
  2. The Central government on Sunday clarified that no decision has been taken as yet on the resumption of domestic or passenger flights, according to an official statement by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has advised the airlines to open their bookings only after the government’s decision in this regard. This clarification comes after Air India on Saturday opened the bookings for select domestic flights from May 4 onwards and for the international flights from June 1 onwards.

  1. Inspired by the model adopted by South Korea to collect COVID-19 samples, a team of Government Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Cuttack, has developed a walk-in kiosk for the safe collection of samples.
  2. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Sunday chaired a meeting with senior officials of various departments to review the coronavirus situation in Uttar Pradesh.
  3. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Sunday said that there shall be no movement of labour outside the State or the Union Territory where they are currently located. However, stranded labourers will be allowed to go to places of work within the State with conditions during the lockdown.
  4. Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwath Narayan on Sunday said that “only essential and critical number of” employees of the Information Technology (IT) companies will be allowed to work from offices from April 20 onwards in Bengaluru, while others will have to continue working from home.
  5. In a historic move, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday said that ‘sarpanches’ in Gram Panchayats will get the powers of District Collectors in their respective jurisdiction to fight COVID-19 pandemic.
  6. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Sunday paid tribute to Police Inspector Devendra Kumar, who died of COVID-19 yesterday and announced Rs 50 lakh as financial aid to the police officer’s family. (ANI)
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