International commercial flights to remain suspended in India until March 31; Covid-19 total now at 11,079,979

An aerial view shows Hindu devotees at the Sangam area, the confluence of rivers Ganges, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati, on the auspicious day of 'Maghi Purnima' during the annual traditional fair Magh Mela Festival in Allahabad on February 27, 2021. - AFP

NEW DELHI, Feb. 27 (Xinhua): International commercial flights to and from India shall remain suspended until March 31, officials said Saturday.

According to a circular issued by the country's civil aviation watchdog - Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday evening (Feb 26), the restriction would exempt international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.

Commercial flights were suspended when the country imposed a complete nationwide lockdown in March last year to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Domestic flights resumed operations in India on May 25 last year after nearly two months of suspension.

Indian authorities have been operating special international flights since May last year and under bilateral "air bubble" arrangements with selected countries since July last year.

In December last year, the authorities placed a ban on flights to and from Britain following the discovery of a highly contagious strain of COVID-19 there. The ban was revoked later.

India's Covid-19 tally rose to 11,079,979 on Saturday as 16,488 new cases were registered during the past 24 hours, said the latest data from the health ministry.

According to the official data, the death toll mounted to 156,938 as 113 Covid-19 patients died since Friday morning.

There are still 159,590 active cases in the country, while 10,763,451 people have been discharged so far from hospitals after medical treatment.

There was a decrease of 3,604 active cases during the previous 24 hours. The number of active cases in India had seen a rise over the past few days.

Jan. 16 was a crucial day in India's fight against the pandemic as a nationwide vaccination drive was kicked off since the day. So far over 14 million people, mainly health workers, have been vaccinated across the country.

Meanwhile, the federal government has ramped up Covid-19 testing facilities across the country, as more than 215 million tests have been conducted so far.

As many as 215,435,383 tests have been conducted till Friday, out of which 773,918 tests were conducted on Friday alone, said the latest data issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Saturday.

The national capital Delhi, which has been one of the most Covid-19 affected places in the country, has been witnessing comparatively a lesser number of cases over past several months. As many as 256 new cases and one death was registered in the city through Friday.

So far as many as 10,906 people have died in the national capital due to Covif-19, confirmed the Delhi's health department.

Two types of vaccines are being administered to the people in India. - Xinhu
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