The number of novel coronavirus cases rose to 29 in India on Wednesday – 13 Indians and 16 Italian tourists. In addition, 17 Indians have been infected with coronavirus abroad, the government said. Earlier in the day, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan held a meeting with senior officials of the Delhi government to take measures to tackle COVID-19.

The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, has spread rapidly around the world this week, with more new cases now appearing outside China than within.

Here’s what we know so far about the spread of the virus:

  • India reported 23 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday, taking the number of cases to 29. One of these is the wife of an Italian tourist who has already tested positive in Jaipur. Six family members of a Delhi coronavirus patient have also been confirmed for the infection. Fifteen persons – 14 Italians and one Indian – tested positive at an Indo-Tibetan Border Police quarantine facility. Late on Wednesday, a health ministry official confirmed that a Paytm employee has tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • In addition, 17 Indians have been infected with coronavirus abroad, the Ministry of External Affairs said. India will now be screening passengers from all flights from abroad. Union minister Prakash Javadekar said over 6 lakh people had been screened so far at 21 airports.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs said all landports have fully equipped medical teams across states to screen incoming people from neighbouring countries.
  • Mainland China reported 38 more deaths due to COVID-19 infections by Wednesday morning, whereas the number of cases surged to 80,270. A total of 2,652 patients were released from hospital after being cured. In South Korea, 5,621 people are infected. Iran reported 15 new coronavirus deaths, taking the toll to 92. The total number of cases in Japan crossed 1,000 on Wednesday.
  • In the United States, three more people died in Washington state on Tuesday, taking the total number of deaths in the country to nine. The total number of confirmed cases in the greater Seattle area rose from 18 to 27 on Tuesday.
  • Argentina and Poland reported their first cases. There were seven new cases in Malaysia, bringing the country’s total to 36. New Zealand confirmed that a woman in her early 30s who recently returned to Auckland from Italy had the coronavirus the country’s second case. Two positive cases of coronavirus have been reported in the European Union’s office in Brussels. Greece confirmed one new case, while Germany had 44 new patients.
  • The World Bank announced a $12-billion aid package to assist with the health and economic impacts of the global coronavirus outbreak. The World Health Organization asked countries in South East Asia to strengthen preparedness for all possible scenarios and ensure early containment measures to tackle coronavirus.
  • Italy is set to close all schools and universities till mid-March amid the coronavirus outbreak. Saudi Arabia suspended the “umrah” pilgrimage.
  • Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan held a meeting with senior officials of the Delhi government to take measures to tackle COVID-19. Principal Secretary to the prime minister PK Mishra chaired an inter-ministerial meeting to review preparedness and response.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he will not participate in Holi events this year in light of the outbreak. President Ram Nath Kovind also said the Rashtrapati Bhavan will not organise traditional gatherings for the occasion. Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s public rally in Hyderabad was postponed.
  • A local resident in Punjab’s Moga district is suspected to have the infection after returning from Dubai. Two samples from Telangana were sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune for confirmation of coronavirus. Two passengers in Jammu and Kashmir with travel history to Italy and South Korea were shifted for quarantine sample testing.
  • The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation said staff had been sensitised and guidelines were circulated to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Instructions were issued to increase the frequency of cleaning within the metro premises. Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s standing committee has urged the civic administration to check travellers at railway stations and toll plazas for the novel coronavirus.
  • Three schools in Delhi and the National Capital Region have been closed, while two have advanced spring break as a precautionary measure. Many chemist shops in Delhi have run out of hand sanitisers and face masks due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The Ministry of Human Resource and Development directed chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories, and the Central Board of Secondary Education, to spread awareness among students on basic protective measures against the coronavirus.

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