Coronavirus India Updates: Tally Tops 9.6 Lakh; Nearly 25,000 Dead
Total Covid-19 confirmed cases in India rose past 9.66 lakh as authorities reported the largest ever spike in fresh cases.
Authorities reported over 32,000 cases in just 24 hours, taking the total tally to 9,68,876, according to the Health Ministry’s 8 a.m. update on July 16. Of these, more than 6.1 lakh have been cured or discharged, while over 3.3 lakh are active cases.
- Total number of confirmed coronavirus cases: 9,68,876
- Active cases: 3,31,146
- Cured/discharged/migrated: 6,12,815
- Deaths: 24,915
- New cases in a day: 32,695
- One-day recoveries: 20,783
- One-day deaths: 606
As cases mount, cities like Bengaluru and Pune have gone into a seven-day lockdown. Several other states such as Goa announced renewed restrictions.
California’s surge continued, with the largest U.S. state reporting near-record increases in cases and deaths. Alabama, one of the last states to shut down and among the earliest to reopen, required people to wear masks. Retail giant Walmart said its customers must wear face coverings at its U.S. stores.
Globally, total cases have topped 13.4 million with over 580,500 deaths.
Track news and developments around the pandemic here.
Telangana Transfers Top Health Department Officials; Brings In Juniors
Amid rising Covid-19 cases in the state, the Telangana government has transferred two key officials of the health department and brought in relatively junior officers to replace them.
Shanti Kumari, Special Chief Secretary (Health) and Yogita Rana, Commissioner of Public Health and Family Welfare, were transferred from their posts, according to an order issued by the Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar on Wednesday night.
Shanti Kumari, a 1989 batch IAS officer, was posted as Special Chief Secretary, Forest, while Rana (2003) was transferred as Commissioner, Department of Scheduled Castes Development.
Syed Ali Murtaza, a 1999 batch IAS officer, will be replacing the 1989 batch official as Secretary, Health, Medical and Family Welfare Department and V Karuna (2004) is the new Commissioner of Public Health and Family Welfare, according to the orders.
Telangana has been steadily witnessing a rise in Covid-19 cases for the past few days with over 1,000 new cases every day. As on July 15, the state registered 39,342 cumulative positive cases with 12,958 active cases.
Meanwhile, several IAS officers in the state were either transferred or relieved from additional charges.
Former UP Minister Ghoora Ram Dies Of Covid-19
Former minister and Samajwadi party leader Ghoora Ram died of coronavirus early Thursday morning at the King George's Medical University in Lucknow, his family said.
According to the SP leader's son Santosh Kumar, he was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday after he complained of a cough and difficulty in breathing.
He tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday, Kumar said, adding that his condition deteriorated in the evening.
Ghoora Ram, confidant of BSP founder Kashi Ram, was elected from the Rasra (reserved) assembly seat in 1993, 2002 and 2007, and was also health minister in the Mayawati government.
Recently, he had joined the Samajwadi Party and was made a member of the national working committee.
Coronavirus Crisis Can't Be Controlled Unless Testing Is Increased: Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran
Stressing the need for increased Covid-19 testing, Tata group chief N Chandrasekaran has said the pandemic will not be controlled unless tests can be conducted "at scale". Stating that for this generation "there is little that compares to the six-month period we have just experienced due to the Covid-19 pandemic", he said working as one, deploying the group's expertise, collaborating to increase capacity, raising national self-reliance, deploying technology for creative solutions and helping people in tough times have been the themes of this extraordinary time.
"The past few months have been very challenging, but they have also been a great demonstration of the value of collaboration. I am proud of how we have worked together to battle this disease," the Chairman of Tata Sons -- the holding company and promoter of all Tata Group companies -- said in a group newsletter. Chandrasekaran further said, "Now, as we navigate the uncertain journey into the post-pandemic future, we will need to respond according to our principles of simplicity, synergy and scale and, above all, to foster the mindset of 'One Tata'.
"Collaboration has been our watchword, and the pandemic has shown the importance of living by our principles." While sharing several steps taken up by the group, he stressed on the need for increased testing saying, "This pandemic will not be controlled unless we can test at scale."
Chandrasekaran said polymerase chain reaction kits are a scarce commodity and reagents for testing have to be imported. Sample collection, processing and transport require specialised equipment and trained personnel. "The Tata group has invested in technology to make testing easier, faster and cheaper," he said, adding the conglomerate has completed a research pilot with the help of the country's most eminent scientists that proved the value of a 'Minimum Testing Maximum Intelligence' approach in the Kolar district of Karnataka.
This process uncovered evidence of silent transmission among high-risk groups such as health workers and police personnel which enabled us to predict the spread of the disease at a time when Kolar had no confirmed positive Covid-19 cases, he stated. A detailed standard operating procedure of the testing strategy for national scaling was handed over to public health agencies to incorporate in lockdown exit efforts, he said adding that "Currently, the Kolar model is being adopted and refined in Jamshedpur."
Chandrasekaran said the group's investments in two novel testing technologies "will not only help the Covid-19 fight but also have a huge potential beyond, for instance, in the diagnosis of other infectious diseases and genetic diseases, as well as in the treatment for cancer. Both technologies are expected to be scaled up within the next quarter".
Tata group, under the leadership of Chairman Emeritus Ratan Tata, had committed Rs 1,500 crore to Covid-19 relief, he said adding "Tata employees have, in addition, contributed tens of crores towards various response projects". Group firms Tata Steel, Tata AutoComp Systems and Tata Consultancy Services orchestrated a plan to buy large quantities of medical supplies from China, the US, South Korea and domestic sources; and so far over a thousand ventilators and respirators, 4 lakh PPE kits, 35 lakh masks and gloves, and 3.5 lakh testing kits have been procured, he said.
Reiterating the significance of having adequate hospital capacity, Chandrasekaran said, "Outbreaks of Covid-19 around the world have shown that if the health system is overwhelmed, the consequences will be higher mortality rates. "India needs many more quarantine and isolation facilities, ICU beds and dedicated Covid-19 treatment centres."
Tata Sons, supported by Tata Projects, has helped local governments and municipal corporations expand the number of beds, treatment centres and isolation facilities by leveraging the group's network of real estate assets and hospitals, he added.
"Added to this, we are in the process of setting up entirely new Covid-19 treatment facilities. This was made possible by inter-group co-operation: teams from Voltas, Tata Steel and Tata Consulting Engineers, as well as medical experts from Tata Trusts, each providing support and expertise; and group companies like TCS, among others, providing access to leased commercial space. To date, 2,000 beds have either been added or are currently in progress," Chandrasekaran said.
This increase in capacity, if it is pointed in the right direction, will lead to increased self-reliance, he said adding that Tata Motors, Tata AutoComp and Voltas have all brought together their respective expertise in design, manufacturing and procurement, and, in consultation with medical experts from Tata's hospital network and senior government officials, identified products for mass production.
"We've also started producing our own PPE kits with over 9,000 distributed to date to address immediate shortages," he said.
Indian Pharma Industry Capable Of Producing Covid-19 Vaccines For Entire World: Bill Gates
India's pharmaceutical industry will be able to produce Covid-19 vaccines not just for the country but also for the entire world, according to Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.
A lot of "very important things have been done" in India and its pharma industry is doing work "to help make the coronavirus vaccine building on other great capacities that they have used for other diseases", said the Co-Chair and Trustee of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Speaking in a documentary -- Covid-19: India's War Against The Virus -- to be premiered on Discovery Plus this (Thursday) evening, Gates said India also faces a huge challenge due to the health crisis because of its gigantic size and urban centres with a lot of population density.
Commenting on the strength of India's pharma industry, he said, "India has a lot of capacity there -- with the drug and vaccine companies that are huge suppliers to the entire world. You know, more vaccines are made in India than anywhere-- starting with Serum Institute, that's the largest."
He further said, "But (there are) also Bio E, Bharat (Biotech), many others. They are doing work to help make the coronavirus vaccine, building on other great capacities that they have used for other diseases."
Stating that India joined Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is a group working on a global basis to build vaccines platforms, Gates said, "I am excited that the pharmaceutical industry there will be able to produce not just for India but also for the entire world. (This is) What we need to reduce the deaths and make sure we are immune, which is how we end the epidemic."
Gates said Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also a "partner with the government, particularly with the department of biotechnology, the Indian Council of Medical Research and the office of the principal scientific advisor provide advice and help about getting these tools going".
Commenting on the deadly virus breaching India's borders in the documentary which was shot extensively during the period of lockdown, he said, "India is still at the beginning of this, but there's a lot of very important things have been done.
It's a huge challenge with India because you've got a gigantic country. You've got your urban centers with a lot of density-- and so that-- drives the spread. You have people moving around."
He, however, added: "Yet people are stepping up... Looking at how we reduce the spread while trying not to reduce food availability, equipment that people need."
Highlighting Gates foundation's role, he said it has "worked for the Indian government on health issues like introducing new vaccines over the last decade; and so when Covid-19 came along, we stepped in and said you know where are the gaps, we have been funding work on detection and isolation.