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Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: 315 cases confirmed in India, says ICMR; Rajasthan imposes lockdown, Gujarat shuts four major cities

Firstpost logoFirstpost 21-03-2020 FP Staff
a group of people standing in front of a store: Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: 315 cases confirmed in India, says ICMR; Rajasthan imposes lockdown, Gujarat shuts four major cities © Provided by Firstpost Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: 315 cases confirmed in India, says ICMR; Rajasthan imposes lockdown, Gujarat shuts four major cities

23:54 (IST)

Coronavirus cases in India rise to 315

Novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 315 Saturday after more than 60 fresh cases were reported in various parts of the country, PTI quotes the Union health ministry as saying. "Total number of confirmed cases so far in the country as on 21 March including foreign nationals is 315," the health ministry said late Saturday.​ "A total of 315 individuals have been confirmed positive among suspected cases and contacts of known positive cases," the ICMR said. The figure of 315 includes 39 foreign nationals, including 17 from Italy, three from the Philippines, two from the UK, one each from Canada, Indonesia and Singapore.
It also includes four deaths— reported from Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra.

23:48 (IST)

Local trains to be used only for essential travel, says official

 

Konkan Divisional Commissioner Shivaji Daund issed orders restricting travel on suburban local trains in Mumbai only for those engaged in essential services or those requiring medical aid, reported the Indian Express.

"All the people who are not related to emergency services should avoid unnecessary travel from railway. They will not be given the entry on the railway stations. The officials and staff involved in the emergency services will be verified based in their government identity card or appointment orders," states the order issued by Daund.

"Those needing medical attention will be exempted. There are 135 suburban stations. Railways have reduced services by 35 to 40 per cent but we would like it come down further," PTI quotes Daund as saying.
 

23:43 (IST)

West Bengal suspends interstate bus travel

The West Bengal government has suspended all inter-state bus operations originating from the state from 12 midnight on 21 March till 31 March, reports ANI.. Inter state buses originating in the neighboring states shall not be allowed to enter the state till 31 March.

23:30 (IST)

10 COVID-19 patients recovered in Uttar Pradesh

  The Uttar Pradesh government said on Saturday that 10 out of 26 coronavirus patients who were undergoing treatment have recovered and were discharged. The total number positive cases in the state are 26 — eight each in Agra and Lucknow, six in Noida, two in Ghaziabad, one each in Lakhimpur Kheri and Moradabad, said Vikasendu Agrawal, joint director/state surveillance officer, Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, in a statement.Ten COVID-19 patients in the state have recovered fully and discharged from hospitals where they were admitted, the statement said.
 
PTI

23:23 (IST)

Italy reports 793 deaths, 60% in Lombardy region

Italy’s tally of coronavirus cases and deaths continues to soar, with officials on Saturday announcing new day-to-day highs: 793 dead and 6,557 cases, reports AP. The country, at the heart of western Europe’s rampaging outbreak, now counts 53,578 known cases. More than 60 percent of the latest deaths occurred in the northern region of Lombardy, whose hospitals have been reeling under a staggering case load that has left intensive care beds hard to find and respirators in short supply.

23:15 (IST)

Uttar Pradesh tally rises to 26;one in Moradabad, two in Noida test positive

A girl who recently returned from France to Moradabad and two persons in Noida have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the state to 26, PTI quoted officials as saying. The student who came from France earlier this week was suffering from cough and cold. She was immediately rushed to a hospital and her sample was sent to a lab in Aligarh, where it tested positive for coronavirus on Friday, Moradabad Chief Medical Officer M C Garg told PTI.
 
Two persons in Noida also tested positive, said Vikasendu Agrawal, joint director/state surveillance officer, Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme, in a statement.As many as 162 'contacts', who have attended different parties in Lucknow with a COVID-19-positive patient, have been identified and contacted so far. The samples collected from them have tested negative, according to the statement.
 
All positive cases in the state are persons with recent history of foreign travel, it said.
 

23:09 (IST)

Gujarat declares lockdown in four major cities

Shops selling non-essential items will remain closed in the state's four largest cities till 25 March, while government offices will operate at half strength on a rotational basis till 29 March, the Gujarat government announced. The decision to lock down four cities was taken at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani.In Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, and Rajkot, shops and malls selling non-essential items will remain shut till Wednesday. Shops selling essential items like milk, vegetables, food items, medicines, medical equipment, as well as hospitals and laboratories, will remain open, said a government release. Essential services of municipal corporations, panchayat offices, internet-telephone, IT, banks, media houses, bank clearinghouses, ATMs, transport services, petrol pumps, shops selling food items, will continue to operate, it said.

The state has so far reported 14 COVID-19 cases, with seven new cases on Saturday.

PTI

 

22:59 (IST)

Assam reports first positive coronavirus case

Assam recorded its first case with a four-and-a-half-year-old girl in Jorhat district with no travel history abroad testing positive, reports PTI. Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Roshni Aparanji Korati said the initial results from Jorhat Medical College and Hospital (JMCH) were positive and the samples have been sent to ICMR-RMRC laboratory at Lahowal in Dibrugarh district for a recheck.

22:50 (IST)

Ashok Gehlot announces statewide lockdown in Rajasthan

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has ordered a lockdown in the state from March 22-March 31. Apart from essential services, all governement and private offices, factories and even public transport shall remain closed in the state, he said. 

22:38 (IST)

Coronavirus outbreak Latest Updates

Govt to allow accredited private labs to test for COVID19: report

The government of India has notified guidelines laid down by Indian Council of Medical Research for COVID-19 testing in Private labs. The maximum cost for testing sample should not exceed Rs 4,500. This may include Rs 1.500 as a screening test for suspect cases, and additional Rs 3,000 for contamination test, reports NDTV. The names of the lab which have been allowed to carry out the tests will be announced tomorrow, said the report. 

22:26 (IST)

Fourth case reported in West Bengal

A 57-year-old man with no travel history was admitted to the Salt Lake Hospital in Kolkata with acute respiratory distress syndrome. He tested positive for COVID-19, taking the number of cases in the state to four, reports PTI.

22:15 (IST)

Two new cases in Telangana, CM calls for 24hr curfew tomorrow

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao called for a 24-hour voluntary curfew from 6 am on March 22 to combat the spread of the coronavirus, as two new fresh COVID-19 cases were reported in the state taking the tally to 21, reports PTI. The fresh cases, include a 35-year-old man, a city resident who moved closely with a person who has already tested positive for the virus, according to a media bulletin on COVID-19.

22:04 (IST)

Coronavirus outbreak in Telangana Latest Updates

Telangana govt to put up home quarantine homes outside homes

The Telangana government has decided to put up stickers cautioning people from against visiitng the homes of those under quarantine, reports the NewsMinute. This will be in addition to the home quarantine stamps on the hands of those advised to be under quarantine in light of the coronavirus outbreak.

21:51 (IST)

Passengers complain after IndiGo boards those advised home quarantine

Chandrani Dutta ,a  passenger aboard the IndiGo airlines flight 6E823 from Delhi to Kolkata  alleged that five persons with home quarantine stamps for suspected coronavirus symptoms travelled with her on the flight. When this was brought to the notice of the cabin crew, they refused to take action against the passengers with the quarantine stamps and instead asked Dutta and her mother to disembark and take another flight "if they had a problem", she claimed.

21:30 (IST)

Coronavirus  'a sledgehammer blow to brittle economy', says Rahul Gandhi

In a veiled attack on the Central government, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that clapping won't help small and medium businesses and daily wage labourers, who are the worst-affected due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Terming the pandemic as a sledgehammer blow to the brittle economy, he said that only an economic package that includes direct cash transfers, tax breaks and a moratorium on loan repayments​ will help those affected.

20:31 (IST)

Will lockdown Delhi if required: Kejriwal 

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the restrictions, including shutting down of malls, restaurants and various other public spaces are causing severe financial stress to the poorer sections of the society and the government cannot afford to let people go hungry.

He, however, added, "We are not going for any lockdown immediately, but if any such measure is in the interest of people, we will implement that as well."

20:09 (IST)

Centre failed to utilise India's public, private sectors despite early detection of disease, says Sonia

"Testing is the key to prevention. In a nation of 130 crore, only 15,701 samples are reported to have been tested so far. Despite ample time, early warnings and lessons from other nations, we appear to have underutilised our public and private sector capacities. This must change. We must begin by testing all cases under surveillance and expand to all other symptomatic cases and those coming into contact with the ones testing positive," Sonia Gandhi said. 

19:32 (IST)

Sonia Gandhi calls for sector-wise relief packages, says govt duty bound to provide essential commodities

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi today said, "A comprehensive sector wise relief package needs to be announced forthwith by the government including necessary tax breaks, interest subvention and deferment of liabilities. For the salaried class, government and the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) must consider a deferment of EMIs."

19:08 (IST)

Thane: Assembly of over 10 banned, no standing travel in buses

Thane Municipal Commissioner Vijay​ Singhal on Saturday banned assembly of more than ten persons in the city in view of the coronavirus outbreak. Action will be taken if more than ten people are found to have gathered on roads or in other public places, he said.

19:02 (IST)

Coronavirus: Over 500 cases filed in Maharashtra for violations

Around 540 offences have been registered in Maharashtra for violating orders in place to stop the spread of novel coronavirus, officials said on Saturday. The violations include not observing lockdown, hiding or falsifying travel history, fleeing home quarantine, spreading rumours about the infection and advertising products with the aim of profiting from the outbreak, they said.

18:50 (IST)

Karnataka residents do a mock drill before Janata Curfew

18:44 (IST)

Hundreds take part in Kerala Hindu festival despite appeals for social distancing

ANI reported that hundreds of people took part in the  Malayinkeezhu Sree Krishna Swami Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, held yesterday. This was in violation of the norms of social distancing enforced by the state government, Police is probing the matter. 

18:38 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in Punjab Latest Updates

Amarinder Singh shares awareness video made by Punjab Police

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh shared a video of Punjab Police personnel spreading awareness about measures to be taken against the novel coronavirus through song and dance. 

 

18:24 (IST)

Coronavirus outbreak Latest Updates

Offices, restaurants, saloons to remain closed in Gautam Buddha Nagar tomorrow

The Gautambuddhanagar district magistrate has announced the closure of all government offices and private establishments, including shops, saloons, restaurants and cafes in Gautambuddhanagar from 7 am to 9 pm on Sunday. Those providing essential services including hospitals, medical stores, grocery stores and rations shops are exempted from the order.

17:56 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in Odisha Latest Updates

'Near total' lockdown in 5 Odisha districts, 8 other towns

 A day before the nationwide 'Janata curfew', the Odisha government announced a "near total" shutdown in five districts and eight other prominent towns for a week to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic. It will come into effect from Sunday morning, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in a video message.
 
The districts that will observe near-total lockdown are Khurda, Ganjam, Cuttack, Kendrapara and Angul, while the towns include Puri, Sambalpur, Jharsuguda, Balasore, Rourkela, Bhadrak, Jajpur Road and Jajpur, Patnaik said. These districts and towns were identified as over 3,000 residents have returned to these places from abroad in the past few days. "The 4.5-crore people are my family. Please cooperate to defeat the virus. I have asked the police to take stern action against violators," PTI quotes Patnaik as saying.

17:42 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in Tamil Nadu Latest Updates

Three foreign nationals test positive

Three foreign nationals under observation in Tamil Nadu have testes positive for coronavirus, taking the tally in the state to six, PTI quotes Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar as saying.
 
"All 6 positive cases are imported cases from different regions with travel histories and not community transmitted. New cases were already quarantined and in our radar.Screening is more intensified at all ports of arrival including at railway stations,domestic arrivals  and interstate borders," he said.

17:33 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak Latest Updates

Likely to issue guidelines to private labs today, says health ministry

"We are likely to issue on Saturday guidelines for private labs over charging, sample collection for COVID test," PTI quotes the health ministry as saying. It however, cautioned people from testing for COVID19 as a "fashion" or for confidence building and said testing should be done as per protocols.

17:27 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak Latest Updates

Contact-tracing 7,000 people, says health ministry

During a press briefing, Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry said, "As of today, we are contact-tracing around 7,000 cases." He added that the health ministry will inform the country when officials come to know factual details about cases of community transmissions.

17:17 (IST)

UP govt bans travel to Ayodhya till 2 April

Uttar Pradesh government has banned all travel to Ayodhya till 2 April. The move comes amid rapid spread of coronavirus. 

16:59 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak Latest Updates

At least three India cases have no history of foreign travel; health ministry says efforts on to trace source of infection

In a health ministry breifing, reporters questioned the officials on three cases in India who have no reported history of foreign travel and only had history of domestic travel from Mumbai, Pune and Chennai respectively. The ministry officials, however, refused to call it a case of community spread and said efforts were on to trace their contact history. 

16:46 (IST)

Breaking: Health Ministry says 111 labs across the country will be functional from today

16:38 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in UP Latest Updates

UP launches scheme to disburse Rs 1,000/month to daily wage workers

In order to dampen the impact of shutdown-like situation on daily wage earners, who increasingly find themselves out of work as fear of the pandemic settles in, the Uttar Pradesh government Saturday launched a new scheme under which at least 20.37 lakh labourers will be given Rs 1,000 per month through Direct Benefit Transfer.

Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also ordered the immediate release of a month’s worth of food grain to about 1.67 crore people who have Antyodaya cards, MGNREGA cards, and also to construction workers and daily wage workers registered with the labour department, The Indian Express reported. 

16:31 (IST)

Coronavirus undermines Indian farm crop prices, derails rural rebound

After excessive rains damaged summer-sown crops in 2019, India was banking heavily on winter-sown crops to fuel a rebound in rural earnings. However, the coronavirus outbreak sent crop prices tumbling just as Asia’s third-biggest economy was expanding at its slowest pace in more than six years.

In response, authorities have imposed travel restrictions and banned big gatherings, cutting food demand. 

Prices for key crops like corn, soybeans, cotton and onions have plunged as much as 50 percent just as farmers prepare for harvest, putting paid to prospects for a rural economic rebound.

16:12 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in Maharashtra Latest Updates

Why Maharashtra govt doesn’t want you to use your ACs

Maharshtra government has issued an advisory asking people to restrict the use of air conditioners in view of COVID-19 pandemic citing the reason that the virus can sneak in through the AC vents. The announcement was made by Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Saturday, quoting the World Health Organsiation guidelines which say that the virus can sneak in via AC vents, News18 reported.

15:55 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in Delhi Latest Updates

Delhi Metro services to remain shut in view of 'Janta curfew’ tomorrow 

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on Friday announced the closure of metro services in the National Capital on 22 March keeping in mind the ‘Janta Curfew’ declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

"In the wake of ‘Janta Curfew’ to be observed this Sunday i.e., on 22nd March 2020, DMRC has decided to keep its services closed. The move is aimed at encouraging the public to stay indoors and maintain social distancing, which is essential in the fight against Covid-19,” Anuj Dayal, Executive Director, DMRC said in an official statement.

15:44 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in India Latest Updates

Bengaluru makes public announcments in view 'Janata curfew' tomorrow

Ahead of the 'Janat curfew' Sunday, public announcements were made via loudspeakers across localities in Bengaluru. Preventive measures such as social distancing were also discussed.

Government and private organisations have announced stopping their services to follow a Janta Curfew on Sunday in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to the people of the country to stay at home for a day.

15:31 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak Latest Updates

Afghanistan pledges contribution to COVID-19 SAARC emergency fund

The Afghan government has pitched in for the COVID-19 emergency fund for South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries which was envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"The government has approved a contribution of $ 1 million to COVID-19 Emergency Fund as per the discussions in SAARC heads of nations VTC, believing in joint collaboration and strengthening partnership to fight this pandemic," ANI reported.

15:23 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in India Latest Updates

Autos, taxis to remain off road in Delhi during 'Janta Curfew'

Autos and taxis will be off roads in the National Capital on Sunday as several unions have extended support to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for a 'Janta Curfew' in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Several unions including the Delhi Autorickshaw Sangh, Delhi Pradesh Taxi Union, Delhi Auto Taxi Transport Congress Union and Delhi Taxi Tourist Transport Association, have decided to join the curfew from 7 am to 10 pm on Sunday.

14:53 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in India Latest Updates

West Bengal govt suspends Class 12 exams till 27 April 

The West Bengal government has postponed the Higher Secondary Examination, in wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak. "All exams are suspended till 27 April. Dates of rescheduling will be fixed after 15 April," ANI reported.

14:46 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in India Latest Updates

Prayers suspended in Wakf-affiliated mosques, shrines in Kashmir

The Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Wakf Board on Saturday announced suspension of regular prayers at its affiliated mosques and shrines as a preventive measure to contain the fast-spreading COVID-19.

"In view of the of coronavirus outbreak, declared as 'Pandemic' by the World Health Organization and as a preventive measure to contain the spread of the virus in Kashmir Valley and subsequent the imposition of restrictions under Section 144 Crpc by the District Administration concerned, it is hereby ordered to suspend regular prayers in shrines / mosques affiliated with the Wakaf Board and displaying of Holy Relic (PBUH) on the occasion of Mehrai-ul-Alam (SAW) celebrations,” the Wakf Board, said in an order, issued on Saturday.

14:40 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in India Latest Updates

Three new cases in Karnataka; state's tally at 18

Three new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Karnataka, taking the total number ofinfections to 18, the state government said on Saturday.

Earlier on Saturday, Health Minister B Sriramulu giving details about one positive case said, a 32-year old person from Gauribidanur in Chikkaballapura district, who has returned from Mecca has been confirmed for the infection.

The person has been admitted in a designated isolated hospital for treatment, he said in a tweet. Details regarding the other two patients are still awaited.

14:36 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in India Latest Updates

Maharashtra govt postpones last paper of Class 10 exams

The Maharashtra government on Saturday announced that the last paper of the SSC (Class 10) exam, which was scheduled to be held on Monday, has been postponed in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad made this announcement. She said the new date would be announced later. 

So far, 63 persons have tested positive for coronavirus in the state.

14:24 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in India Latest Updates

Delhi govt to conduct all press conferences digitally: Arvind Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced that all govt press conferences will be conducted digitally from now on. "All Delhi government press conferences will be conducted digitally now. It’s very important that all journalists, who are on the forefront of our battle against Corona, also protect themselves as they are in a high exposure environment," he tweeted.

14:20 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in Singapore Latest Updates

Singapore reports first two deaths due to COVID-19

Two patients in Singapore have died from complications due to COVID-19, the first deaths in the country linked to the infection. The patients – a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and 64-year-old Indonesian man – died on Saturday morning, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.

The woman, known as Case 90, was linked to the cluster at The Life Church and Missions Singapore. 

The second patient, known as Case 212, was a 64-year-old Indonesian man with a history of heart disease. He reported the onset of symptoms on 9 March and had been hospitalised in a hospital in Indonesia for pneumonia. 

14:02 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in India Latest Updates

Four passengers who travelled in Godan Express test positive

The Ministry of Railway on Saturday issued a statement that four passengers who traveled in Godan Express on 16 March have been tested positive for coronavirus. The train was destined to Jabalpur from Mumbai.

According to the ministry, the passengers came to India from Dubai last week. In an official statement, the Ministry said: "Railways has found that 4 passengers who traveled on Godan Express (Train 11055) from Mumbai to Jabalpur on 16 March have been tested positive for COVID-19. They came to India from Dubai last week. All concerned have been alerted to take necessary action."

13:52 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in India Latest Updates

Narendra Modi tweets video on how to take precaution against pandemic

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a video on Twitter on Saturday which educates people about how to take minute precautions against coronavirus pandemic. which can make monumental impacts and save many lives.

"Minute precautions can make monumental impacts and save many lives. Saw this interesting video on social media. If you have such videos that can educate people and spread awareness on battling COVID-19, please do so using #IndiaFightsCorona," he tweeted.

13:45 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in India Latest Updates

Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance constantly monitoring orders, inventories of medicines​

The Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) is closely monitoring inventory and working with the government in the wake of the rapid spread of COVID-19, according to CNBC-TV18. 

The IPA and its member companies are working with the Centre and state governments, Indian pharmaceutical industry associations and key stakeholders in the pharmaceutical supply chain to ensure that patients in India and the world continue to have access to medicines.

"The IPA member companies are closely monitoring orders and inventories of medicines. With an adequate stock of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs), finished product formulations and channel availability, we would be able to sustain the supply of medicines for the coming months. We are not aware of any medicines shortage, to date," the IPA said in a press statement.

13:41 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak in India Latest Updates

Delhi couple with home quarantine seal found aboard Bangalore-Delhi Rajdhani, deboarded at Kazipet

A couple was deboarded from a Delhi-bound Rajdhani train on Saturday after co-passengers observed a home quarantine seal on the husband's hand, the Railways said Saturday. Officials said the Delhi-based couple boarded the Bangalore City-New Delhi Rajdhani at Secunderabad Saturday morning.

When the train reached Kazipet in Telangana at 9.45 am a co-passenger noticed the quarantine mark — authorities are putting on suspected coronavirus cases — on the husband''s hand when he was wash his hands. Other co-passengers then informed the TTE on board the train, the national transporter said.

The train was briefly detained and the couple was taken to a hospital. The coach was completely sanitised in Kazipet and was locked, officials said.

13:32 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak Latest Updates

WHO launches health alert on WhatsApp over COVID-19 pandemic

The World Health Organization (WHO) has created a health alert on WhatsApp to keep people aware and updated about the coronavirus pandemic and combat misinformation.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced the move on his social media platform and said that they have worked together with the WHO to get "authoritative information" about coronavirus sent directly to one's WhatsApp account.

13:13 (IST)

 

Coronavirus Outbreak in India Latest Updates

Three more, including Army jawan, test positive in Ladakh

Three more persons tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Ladakh on Saturday, taking the total number of cases in the Union Territory to thirteen, officials said.

Greater Kashmir quoted Commissioner Secretary (Health) Rigzin Samphel as saying, "The samples of three more persons have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ladakh." Those affected include an army soldier as well.

Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research revised its strategy to fight the spread of the new coronavirus on Saturday, saying all hospitalised patients with severe acute respiratory illness, shortness of breath and having fever and cough will now be tested for COVID-19 infection.

Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: Novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 315 Saturday after more than 60 fresh cases were reported in various parts of the country.

Italy’s tally of coronavirus cases and deaths continues to soar, with officials on Saturday announcing new day-to-day highs: 793 dead and 6,557 cases.

The government of India has notified guidelines laid down by Indian Council of Medical Research for COVID-19 testing in private labs. The maximum cost for testing sample should not exceed Rs 4,500. This may include Rs 1.500 as a screening test for suspect cases, and additional Rs 3,000 for contamination test.

The death toll from the new coronavirus has surpassed 5,000 in Europe, with Italy, Spain and Germany reporting a steep rise in infections. The overall global toll crossed 11,000 today. Meanwhile, India also recorded a steep rise in number of cases, with 283 people tested positive for the virus so far.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi today said, "A comprehensive sector wise relief package needs to be announced forthwith by the government including necessary tax breaks, interest subvention and deferment of liabilities. For the salaried class, government and the RBI (Reserve Bank of India) must consider a deferment of EMIs."

Around 540 offences have been registered in Maharashtra for violating orders in place to stop the spread of novel coronavirus, officials said on Saturday.

A day before the nationwide 'Janata curfew', the Odisha government announced a "near total" shutdown in five districts and eight other prominent towns for a week to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic. It will come into effect from Sunday morning, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in a video message.

In a health ministry breifing, reporters questioned the officials on three cases in India who have no reported history of foreign travel and only had history of domestic travel from Mumbai, Pune and Chennai respectively. The ministry officials, however, refused to call it a case of community spread and said efforts were on to trace their contact history.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) on Friday announced the closure of metro services in the National Capital on 22 March keeping in mind the ‘Janta Curfew’ declared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

"In the wake of ‘Janta Curfew’ to be observed this Sunday i.e., on 22nd March 2020, DMRC has decided to keep its services closed. The move is aimed at encouraging the public to stay indoors and maintain social distancing, which is essential in the fight against Covid-19,” Anuj Dayal, Executive Director, DMRC said in an official statement.

Three new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Karnataka, taking the total number ofinfections to 18, the state government said on Saturday.

Earlier on Saturday, Health Minister B Sriramulu giving details about one positive case said, a 32-year old person from Gauribidanur in Chikkaballapura district, who has returned from Mecca has been confirmed for the infection.

The person has been admitted in a designated isolated hospital for treatment, he said in a tweet. Details regarding the other two patients are still awaited.

 The West Bengal government has postponed the Higher Secondary Examination, in wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak. "All exams are suspended till 27 April. Dates of rescheduling will be fixed after 15 April," ANI reported.

The Ministry of Railway on Saturday issued a statement that four passengers who traveled in Godan Express on 16 March have been tested positive for coronavirus. The train was destined to Jabalpur from Mumbai.

According to the ministry, the passengers came to India from Dubai last week. In an official statement, the Ministry said: "Railways has found that 4 passengers who traveled on Godan Express (Train 11055) from Mumbai to Jabalpur on 16 March have been tested positive for COVID-19. They came to India from Dubai last week. All concerned have been alerted to take necessary action."

Three more persons tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Ladakh on Saturday, taking the total number of cases in the Union Territory to thirteen, officials said.

Greater Kashmir quoted Commissioner Secretary (Health) Rigzin Samphel as saying, "The samples of three more persons have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ladakh." Those affected include an army soldier as well.

According to several media reports, Centre is likely to defer or advise states the 1 April launch of Census 2021 and National Population Register (NPR) update, in view of the situation arising out of the novel coronavirus.

The NPR exercise was scheduled scheduled to kick off in central Delhi, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep and Meghalaya on 1 April.

A total of 23 people have been found to be infected with coronavirus in Uttar Pradesh. "Of the total cases, nine people have recovered. We have sufficient number of isolation wards in the state," said Yogi Adityanath while briefing the media on the state's preparedness on tackling the novel coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has said that the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases has risen to 258. Of the total 258, 219 are Indian nationals and 39 are foreigners.

Another new case of coronavirus has been reported in Gujarat after a 52-year-old man who returned from Sri Lanka tested positive in Vadodara.

With this the number of infected individuals in the state has risen to eight.

According to reports, the patient went to Sri Lanka and upon returning his health has been deteriorating. He was sent to SSG Government Hospital, Vadodara, and has been undergoing treatment since 18 March.

The Indian Railways on Friday said it has cancelled 3,700 trains from Saturday midnight till Sunday 10 pm, in line with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal of a day-long curfew to contain the spread of coronavirus.

On Thursday evening, Modi called for a people’s curfew on Sunday in a drastic step by his administration to prevent a surge in COVID-19 cases. In an address to the nation, Modi asked citizens to voluntarily stay indoors from 7 am till 9 pm.

Suburban train services in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Secunderbad will be reduced to 'bare minimum', an official statement said.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, has cancelled any hearings or meetings of the Court in March and at least until 16 April.

It has also suspended all official travel of Members of the Court and Registry staff and decided to cancel all visits and to implement teleworking. These measures have been taken by the international court to reduce to a minimum the physical presence of staff at the Peace Palace, the seat of the ICJ.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday announced a lockdown in Mumbai, MMR region, Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad and Nagpur till 31 March.

He further added that all offices will have to initiate work-from-home practice and if that is not possible then they will have to shut their offices. But he stated that there are no plan to stop local train, bus services in the state.

He said that these stringent measures had to be put in force as people were not practicing social distancing.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday issued an advisory for hospitals and medical education institutions in the view of COVID-19. The ministry has asked hospitals to postpone non-essential elective surgeries.

"Some beds should be set apart and prepared for creating isolation facilities in every public and private hospital. All hospitals should mobilize additional resources including masks, gloves and personal protection equipment. Healthcare personnel should be trained for dealing with any foreseeable emergencies," read the advisory.

The ministry said that all doctors, nurses, and support staff in different specialties, including pre and para clinical departments, should be mobilised and trained in infection prevention and control practices.

State governments and authorities across India ramped up efforts to carry out more tests and contact tracing while issuing and imposing restrictions on mass gathering and movement of people, as the total number of confirmed cases in India rose to 236, an increase of 63 cases.

Across states, the police also joined efforts in ensuring that that prescribed quarantine is adhered to. While in some cases, the police shut down business establishments, a case was filed against Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor in Uttar Pradesh for allegedly violating quarantine guidelines.

Cases were also filed two against marriage halls in Aurangabad and in Kerala, four were arrested for roaming outside despite being advised home quarantine.

a group of people standing in front of a store: Representational image. PTI © Provided by Firstpost Representational image. PTI

As authorities took a stricter stand on Friday, new restrictions were imposed in some states to curb the spread of the virus. Some of the new restrictions announced on Friday curtailing the movement of people included the Maharashtra government ordering the closure of all working place in Mumbai, MMR Region, Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad and Nagpur till 31 March.

In Thane, a ban was imposed on share autorickshaws, taxis and aggregator cabs to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for "social distancing" on Thursday, a senior district official in the town of Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh told Reuters that he expected the state government to call off the Ram Navami Mela, a major Hindu religious gathering in the temple town.

“We’re expecting an official order in a couple of days and it will be in line with what our prime minister said yesterday in his address,” said the senior official.

The annual Ram Navami fair in Ayodhya brings millions of Hindus to the holy city. This year authorities were expecting a surge in numbers, as the foundation-laying ceremony of the grand Ram Temple was also expected to take place.

Over 63 new cases recorded

Among those found positive for coronavirus are 32 foreign nationals, including 17 from Italy, three from the Philippines, two from the UK, one each belonging to Canada, Indonesia, and Singapore.

The figure also includes four deaths reported from Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab, and Maharashtra so far.

"The total number of active COVID-19 cases across India stands at 196 so far," the ministry said, adding that 23 others have been cured/discharged/migrated while four have died.

Delhi has, so far, reported 17 positive cases, which includes one foreigner, while Uttar Pradesh has recorded 23 cases, including one foreigner.

While Karnataka has 15 coronavirus patients, the number of cases in Ladakh rose to 10 and Jammu and Kashmir four. Telangana has reported 17 cases, which include nine foreigners.

Rajasthan has also reported 17 cases, including that of two foreigners. Gujarat has reported five cases so far.

Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttarakhand have reported three cases each.

West Bengal, Odisha, and Punjab each reported two cases while Puducherry, Chhattisgarh and Chandigarh reported one case each.

In Haryana, there are 17 cases, which include 14 foreigners.

"A total of 14,376 samples from 13,486 individuals have been tested for SARS-CoV2 as on March 20," Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) officials said.

While health ministry recorded 28 cases for Kerala on Friday, the state government put the total number of confirmed cases at 37, stating it registered 12 new infections in a single day.

"We need to be more careful and serious in dealing with this pandemic as there are 12 more cases in the state today. The positive cases of Ernakulam are the UK tourists, who travelled from Munnar earlier. One person is from Palakkad. He is a UK-returnee," Chief Minsiter Pinarayi Vijayan said, adding that a total of 44,390 people are under observation in the state.

Of them, 44,165 are in home quarantine and 225 in isolation wards in various hospitals, the chief minister added.

Maharashtra has 52 cases, including three foreigners. Of the fresh cases in Maharashtra, two are from Mumbai, while Pune and its neighbouring Pimpri Chinchwad account for one each.

"Of the people undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at hospitals, 41 are asymptomatic, eight have minor symptoms, and two admitted in Kasturba hospital in Mumbai are critical," a state government release informed.

According to the health department, 12 persons have, so far, tested positive in Pimpri-Chinchwad, nine in Pune, 11 in Mumbai, four in Nagpur, three each at Yavatmal, Navi Mumbai and Kalyan, two in Ahmednagar, and one each in Raigad, Thane, Ulhasnagar, Ratnagiri and Aurangabad.

Of the 52 COVID-19 patients in the state, one died on 17 March, it added.

It said 1,586 people arrived from Covid-19 affected areas, 281 are kept under observation, while 1,317 are admitted in isolation facilities for symptoms like cough, cold and fever.

"Every day, we find 1-2 positive patients. Most have international travel history, and in 4-5 cases, we found contact history. Hence we are saying transmission in families and close contracts have started," said Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation deputy director (health), Daksha Shah.

She stressed on quarantine, contact tracing and restrictions on mass gathering, as was done in places like Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, to stall the exponential multiplication of Covid-19 cases.

She said these measures will ensure the transmission of the disease does not move from stage 2 to stage 3.

No community spread of coronavirus in India says Harsh Vardhan

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday that there was no community spread of coronavirus in the country and a defined protocol exists about who needs to go for a test.

Answering during the question hour in Lok Sabha, the minister said the scientists in the country were doing their own research about coronavirus and were also in touch with their counterparts in other countries. "There is a very defined protocol about who needs to be tested," the minister said.

He said those with symptoms and travel history need to go for tests and the ministry was also doing a detailed contact tracing. He said the infection was travelling from one person to another and "has not gone to the community".

The minister said the Indian Council of Medical Research was doing tests to see if there was community spread. "Whatever test we are doing is with perfect scientific advice," he said.

Self-distancing, quarantine remains a challenge

The biggest challenge, however, was enforcing self-quarantine and "social distancing" as several reports showed that several people who are either suspected of having the virus or with a history of travels to the virus-affected countries and advised home quarantine, continued to violate the rules.

Even after Modi stressed on the importance of social distancing in his nearly half an hour speech on Thursday, these reports showed that imposing "social distancing" and "self-quarantine" is likely to be a major challenge in combating the virus.

Three such cases came to light on Friday. One included a singer in Uttar Pradesh who tested positive for the virus and, and another a bridegroom in Telangana who along with his family had to be persuaded into a quarantine facility in the state.

Singer Kanika Kapoor had returned to India from London on 15 March, and test positive on Friday is said to have attended three parties after her return to Lucknow and had come in contact with around 400 families during the same.

Kanika is among the four people who tested positive for novel coronavirus in the city on Friday, taking the total number of confirmed cases in Uttar Pradesh to 23 — eight each in Agra and Lucknow, four in Noida, two in Ghaziabad, and another in Lakhimpur Kheri.

According to News18, an FIR has been filed against the singer in Uttar Pradesh.

In Telangana, the police had to persuade a Ramannapet resident, who had returned from France on 12 March and got married on Thursday to cancel a reception which was likely to be invited by around 1,000 guests.

Though the medical team conducted tests on bridegroom's family members on Friday and did not find any symptoms of COVID-19, as a precautionary measure, he and his family members have been shifted to the Mahathma Gandhi Memorial Hospital for quarantine for a few days.

Another such case came to light in Odisha, where a 19-year-old man who returned from the UK tested positive for coronavirus, the second confirmed case in the state.

He is the son of the medical superintendent of AIIMS, Bhubaneswar.

The man came in contact with 46 persons and 43 of them have been identified. Eight teams are now engaged in tracing the remaining three people.

Economic package soon, says FM

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said an economic package for the coronavirus-hit sectors will be announced "as soon as possible".

The minister, however, did not give any timeline by when the package will be unveiled.

"I had a meeting with tourism, MSME, civil aviation, animal husbandry sectors. These ministries presented an assessment of their sector after consultation with their stakeholders.

"We had a detailed discussion in the presence of the Finance Secretary and Economic Affairs Secretary. We are compiling their suggestions," she said after a four-hour meeting in Delhi.

The ministry will hold an internal meeting on Saturday to firm up the action plan to deal with the crisis, she added.

When asked by when the package will be announced, she said, "It will be difficult to give a timeline but it will be done as soon as possible."

The finance minister also said the task force announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is yet to be constituted.

Asked about relief measures for the financial sector, Sitharaman said, "SEBI has come up with a list of regulations which will also sort of keep the markets a bit stable. But I can't say what I am doing for the markets. At the moment, we are at a critical stage of collecting everybody's inputs and also the ministry is working in detail about all the inputs which have come."

Global toll crosses 10,000

Worldwide, the death toll from COVID-19 passed 10,000 and infections exceeded 244,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, AP reported. Italy recorded 627 deaths on Friday, its highest day-to-day-rise in the number of deaths of persons infected with COVID-19.

The number of new cases also shot staggeringly higher at 5,986 cases. That brings the official total of new deaths overall to 4,032 and of cases to 47,021 in Italy, with 60 million citizens, exceeding the 3,248 in China, a country with a population over 20 times larger.

Though the illness is mild in most people, the elderly are particularly susceptible to serious symptoms. Italy has the world’s second-oldest population, and the vast majority of its dead — 87 percent — were over 70.

Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit, a virologist at Germany's Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine, offered another reason for Italy's high death rate: “That's what happens when the health system collapses."

More than 86,000 people have recovered, mostly in China, but the pace is much slower than the spread of the virus. Recovery takes two weeks or so for mild cases but can be up to six weeks for those that turn serious, according to the World Health Organisation.

Nations are imposing ever-stricter border controls and lockdowns to keep people at home and keep away outsiders, hoping to slow the spread of the virus while preparing for an onslaught of sick patients. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of a looming global recession “perhaps of record dimensions.”

In the US, the Donald Trump administration upgraded its already dire warning to Americans against all international travel, and the State Department announced new restrictions on the issuance of passports to US citizens.

At home, the US Army prepared mobile military hospitals for deployment in major cities, and motorists waited in long lines for nurses to swab their nostrils at new US drive-thru testing sites. Deaths have reached at least 205 and New York City is rapidly becoming a US epicentre, with more than 4,000 cases.

Iran accused the United States of helping spread the virus by retaining sanctions that prevent it from importing desperately needed medicine and medical equipment.

In other words, while the US is trying to curb the virus internally, it is helping the spread of the virus externally," Iran's UN mission said in a statement.

In a measure of how the fortunes of East and West have shifted, a Chinese Red Cross official heading an aid delegation to Milan castigated Italians for failing to take their national lockdown seriously.

Sun Shuopeng said he was shocked to see so many people walking around, using public transportation and eating out in hotels.

“Right now we need to stop all economic activity, and we need to stop the mobility of people,” he said. “All people should be staying at home in quarantine.”

But globally, governments are trying to balance the need to lock down residents with the need to keep food, medicine and other essentials flowing.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged employees to keep working in supermarkets, production sites, and other necessary businesses amid stringent restrictions of movement.

“We need to keep the country running,” Macron said.

With agency inputs

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