India records 18,522 new Covid-19 cases, 418 deaths in 24 hours; tally over 5.66

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India’s tally of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) mounted to 566,840 and death toll stood at 16,893 on Tuesday, a day after the Centre issued guidelines for Unlock 2, Union health ministry data showed.

There were 18,522 new infections and 418 fatalities in the last 24 hours, according to the Covid-19 dashboard of the health ministry.

The number of Covid-19 patients cured of the respiratory disease continued to be more than active cases as 13,099 people were sent home between Monday and Tuesday morning. There were 334,821 discharges pushing the recovery rate to 59%.

According to the health ministry, there are 215,125 active cases of the coronavirus disease.

The surge in India’s infection tally continued as the government announced that educational institutions, Metro rail services and large gatherings will continue to remain banned during the second of a three-phase plan aimed at lifting restrictions imposed to stop the spread of infections.

Under the new guidelines, which will come into effect from July 1, night curfew has been relaxed by an hour to aid economic activity. Schools, colleges and coaching institutions will remain closed till July 31.

It added that Metro rail, cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars, auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places will also remain shut.

Social, political, sports, entertainment, academic, cultural, religious functions and other large congregations will also continue to be banned.

The Maharashtra government has extended the Covid-19 lockdown by a month till July 31 and imposed stricter restrictions like reduced time allowed for shopping as its infection tally inched closer to the 170,000-mark.

Tamil Nadu, which is the second worst-hit state, has also extended the coronavirus lockdown till July 31 amid a steady rise in the Covid-19 numbers in the state.

The state government has said Chennai and Madurai will continue to be under intense lockdown till July 5 and the current relaxations and curbs shall be in force till July 31 for the rest of Tamil Nadu. There are 86,224 Covid-19 cases and 1,141 deaths in the southern state to date.

In Delhi, which has 85,161 cases so far, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the government will set up a plasma bank to pool in blood rich in virus-fighting antibodies to help critically ill patients have better access to one of the most effective treatment options yet.

All hospitals and Covid-19 testing laboratories in the national capital have been asked to start rapid antigen detection tests to scale up its ongoing process of identifying symptomatic patients and isolating them immediately.

A senior Delhi government official said on Monday that of the 99,274 people surveyed using the rapid antigen test, which began in containment zones and neighbouring areas on June 18, 7,414 tested positive for Covid-19 till June 26, indicating a positivity rate of 7.46%.

Delhi is the first state to roll out antigen-based testing.

Meanwhile, the Drug Controller General of India has granted permission for human clinical trials of the country’s first Covid-19 vaccine candidate developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and National Institute of Virology (NIV).

Globally, there are 10,277,084 cases of the coronavirus disease and 504,927 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.