India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Saturday morning reported the detection of 6,654 new cases of the novel coronavirus from across the country over the last 24 hours. This marked India’s highest-ever single-day spike in fresh cases of infection, pushing the total number of confirmed cases to 1,25,101. This figure is inclusive of 69,597 active cases, 51,783 recoveries and 3,720 casualties to date.
The Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) revealed that over 1.15 lakh (1,15,364) samples were tested for infection in facilities across the country between Friday and Saturday. With this development, the total number of samples tested in India for Covid-19 stands at 28,34,798 as of May 23.
Mission Jai Hind
Some of India’s most renowned public intellectuals endorsed a seven-point plan of action to relieve the country’s citizens of the hardship they are facing in the aftermath of the novel coronavirus outbreak and the nationwide lockdown that succeeded it. Among other measures, this plan also suggests that the Centre should mobilise all resources in the country by treating them as national resources.
It also urges the Centre to “share at least 50 per cent of the additional revenue raised for this purpose with the state governments”.
One of the signatories, historian Ramachandra Guha took to Twitter to claim that the plan endorsed by him contained a different version. However, Guha later recanted his statement and said that the controversy surrounding it “should now be set at rest”.
States gear up to resume flight operations
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday said that his ministry will try to restart international flights before August of this year. With domestic flights set to resume from Monday, Hardeep Puri also clarified that passengers plying on domestic air routes will not be quarantined as long as they have green status on Aarogya Setu App. The Centre’s tracking App is not compulsory but recommended.
Maharashtra, the state that accounts for over 44,500 confirmed cases of Covid-19, has denied permission for entry of domestic flights in the state’s airspace. An official in the government of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that the state was not consulted before the decision to resume domestic flights was made by the Centre.
No other state/UT apart from Maharashtra has explicitly denied permission to domestic flights as of yet. At the same time, precautionary measures are being installed and implemented in various airports across India such as Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport and the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad.
A man who had tested positive for Covid-19 was discharged from the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Hospital in Ahmadabad. It was later discovered that the man had never recovered from the infection and was permitted to leave after hospital staffers confused him with another patient who had the same name. A visibly embarrassed management of the civic-run hospital rushed an ambulance to escort the patient back and issued a formal apology for the “human error”.
Shramik Specials to the rescue!
Indian Railways issued a statement on May 23, saying that it will operate as many as 2,600 Shramik Special trains over the course of the next 10 days to ferry 36 lakh migrant workers back to their native homes. Chairman of the Railway Board, VK Yadav told media outlets that a total of 35 lakh migrants have been transported to their home states with the help of over 2,600 Shramik Special trains in the last 23 days.
On Saturday, a group of migrant labourers onboard a Shramik Special train headed to Bihar’s Darbhanga from Bengaluru in Karnataka resorted to violence at the Unnao railway station in Uttar Pradesh during a halt. They complained of no food and water for them and hurled brickbats at station officers. The Indian Railway Protection Force (RPF) was summoned to get the situation under control.
Home delivery of liquor
After Maharashtra and Jharkhand, Odisha also permitted the home delivery of liquor on May 23. Registered liquor outlets are now working with E-commerce companies to facilitate home delivery of alcohol in these states. Other states such as Punjab, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh are also considering a similar model.
Private liquor shops in Delhi also reopened for business on Saturday after a closure of more than two months with the Excise Department issuing permissions to 66 outlets to serve customers.
Updates from states/cities
The governments of West Bengal and Punjab said that 14 days quarantine is mandatory for anyone entering the state via bus, train, or flight. Administration of Jammu and Kashmir also set a similar rule in place for all those flying into the union territory once domestic flight operations resume on May 25.
Tamil Nadu government permitted salons to reopen across the state on May 23, except in containment zones.
Similarly, markets were opened in Ghaziabad on Saturday along with the city’s border with Delhi.
An official announced that Ranchi, the state capital of Jharkhand, is not a red but an orange zone now.
First case in Sikkim
Sikkim, that had been free of Covid-19 since the outbreak began, on Saturday recorded its first confirmed case of infection. The patient was identified as a resident of south Sikkim with recent travel history to Delhi.
Apart from this, Maharashtra recorded 2,940 new cases and 63 more casualties on Saturday, Tamil Nadu with nearly 760 new cases, Delhi with 591 new cases, Gujarat with 396 fresh cases and 27 more deaths, Rajasthan with 248 new cases, Madhya Pradesh with 201 new cases.
In addition, Jammu and Kashmir reported 80 new cases, Assam 70 new cases, Kerala 62 new cases, Telangana 52 new cases, and Chhattisgarh 44 fresh cases of infection on Saturday.
ICMR gives green signal to hydroxychloroquine
Despite contrary reports about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in the treatment of Covid-19 patients, ICMR on May 23 approved the drug for healthcare and frontline workers as a preventative medication.
The Lancet, a premier medical journal, had found that those treated with hydroxychloroquine are at a higher risk of death and irregular heart rhythms.