Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Thursday announced that all primary schools in the Capital will be shut till March 31 to prevent spread of the coronavirus. Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has postponed his visit to Belgium for the India-European Union Summit, which was scheduled to be held later this month.
There are 30 infections so far in India – 15 people, including 14 Italians, tested positive in Delhi, six people in Agra, two Italian tourists in Jaipur, and one each in Delhi, Hyderabad, Ghaziabad and Gurugram.
Globally, more than 95,000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the vast majority of them in China where the virus originated late last year. According to the the latest figures from the World Health Organisation, more than 3,270 have died.
Updates from the day:
10.58 pm: Out of those who were in contact with the Italian couple, who tested positive for the coronavirus, 68 people have tested negative, reports PTI, citing a senior health official. Test results for eight more are awaited.
10.56 pm: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said that education of nearly 300 million students in 13 countries has been disrupted due to the coronavirus.
10.53 pm: Italy has canceled the Rome marathon, scheduled for March 29, the the organisers said on Thursday. It will now be rescheduled for 2021, reports CNN.
10.51 pm: First case of coronavirus has been reported in Tennessee, United States, after a man from the state’s Williamson County tested positive for the virus, health official Lisa Piercey said, reported CNN.
10.49 pm: The toll due to coronavirus has gone up to six in France after two more people died on Thursday, the country’s health ministry said, according to CNN.
10.40 pm: The number of coronavirus cases in Netherlands has doubled to 82 after 44 new patients were identified on Thursday, the country’s National Institute for Public Health and Environment told CNN in a statement.
10.37 pm: Director of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Manoj Gangal tells ANI: “1,967 passengers were screened yesterday [Wednesday] at the airport. Two thermal screening systems have been placed at the airport.”
He adds that 10 hand-held scanners are being used to screen passengers, and 12 doctors are available round-the-clock and 24 paramedics are stationed at the airport.
10.32 pm: Iran is expected to send an empty flight to New Delhi on Friday to take back its citizens to Tehran and another flight will come to India on Saturday to carry Indian equipment to Iran for stranded Indian nationals, reports ANI, citing an unidentified official at the Iran Embassy. “From tomorrow [Friday], special flights will start between Iran and India for the stranded passengers,” the official says. “Over 2,000 Indians are stranded in Iran. We can send them back to India only after proper approval of Indian authority.”
10.30 pm: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan inspects the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, reports ANI.
8.30 pm: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath directs officials to set up screening centres for coronavirus at the entrances of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the state, PTI reports.
8.25 pm: Singapore sends Turkish Airlines flight empty after a passenger who had arrived on the same plane on Tuesday tested positive for coronavirus, reports Reuters.
8.22 pm: Lufthansa cancels all flights to Israel until March 28 because of coronavirus restrictions, reports AFP.
8.20 pm: The Haryana government postpones women’s marathon scheduled for March 8 over the coronavirus crisis, reports PTI.
8.18 pm: Uttarakhand government suspends Wellness Summit scheduled next month and Adventure Summit that was scheduled this month because of coronavirus outbreak, reports News18. Foreign delegates were invited to both the summits.
8.11 pm: The International Air Transport Association warns that airlines could lose $63 billion to $113 billion in revenue for passenger traffic globally this year because of the spread of coronavirus, reports Reuters.
8.05 pm: Singapore reports five new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of people infected to 117 in the country.
8.01 pm: French authorities confirm two more deaths linked to the coronavirus outbreak in the country, taking the total of deaths to six, reports AFP. The country also registered 92 new confirmed coronavirus cases.
7.53 pm: Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla reviews status of screening procedure of people coming from neighbouring countries through land borders as part of efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus, reports PTI. Bhalla urges officials to ensure round-the-clock deployment of doctors at entry points.
7.50 pm: Kendriya Vidyalayas in Delhi to be closed for primary classes till March 31 because of coronavirus outbreak, PTI reports.
7.42 pm: More than 6 lakh people have been screened at Indian airports till date, The Indian Express reports.
7.22 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urges people to stay away from crowded places, reports PTI. So far, 42 people in the state have tested negative for coronavirus and the results of nine others are awaited.
7.15 pm: Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhavan to be closed for public from March 7. “Continuing the precautionary measures at Rashtrapati Bhavan in view of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus, the Mughal Gardens will close for public from Saturday, March 7 to avoid any large gathering of people,” President Ram Nath Kovind says in a tweet.
7.01 pm: Telangana Health Minister Etela Rajender says samples of two people sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune have tested negative, reports The NewsMinute.
6.50 pm: An employee at HSBC’s London office has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to Bloomberg. The firm has been evacuated and sanitised.
6.42 pm: Authorities in Iran will begin manning checkpoints to limit travel between major cities amid the virus outbreak, reports The Guardian.
6.36 pm: Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh says 10 samples for coronavirus have tested negative, adding that results for two others are awaited. “There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state,” he tweets. “The government is closely monitoring the coronavirus situation and taking up all precautionary measures. I appeal to the people of the State not to panic.Biometric attendance is temporarily suspended for one month in the state.”
6.30 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister urges people not to panic and wear masks, reports PTI. He adds that medical staff for thermal screening at airports will be increased.
6.25 pm: Greece confirms 21 new coronavirus cases detected among travellers who recently returned from a pilgrimage to religious sites in Israel and Egypt, reports Reuters.
6.18 pm: Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation launches 24x7 helpline number “1916” to report coronavirus cases in the city, reports ANI.
6.12 pm: Thackeray says municipal corporations and administration of the state are on alert. He urges people to avoid large gatherings during Holi celebrations as requested by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
6.11 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray says people need to be cautious during the next 10 to 15 days about the spread of coronavirus, reports PTI.
6.09 pm: The truck drivers coming from Pakistan are being scanned at Attari for coronavirus, reports ANI.
6.06 pm: A 14-bed isolation ward has been set up at Hindu Rao Hospital in Delhi for coronavirus patients, reports PTI. North Delhi Mayor Avtar Singh urges people to refrain people from shaking hands and hugging others.
5.58 pm: United States and Israel cancel their joint military exercise over coronavirus outbreak, reports AFP. “The decision is in alignment with recent Israeli Ministry of Health guidelines on COVID-19, and a precautionary measure to ensure the health and safety of all participants,” United States European Command says in a statement.
5.55 pm: South Africa confirms first case of coronavirus, reports Al Jazeera. The patient is a 38-year-old man who travelled to Italy with his wife, says Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
5.47 pm: A cruise ship returning to California from Hawaii is being held off the coast of San Francisco after passengers and crew members onboard developed symptoms of coronavirus, reports AFP.
5.42 pm: Seven people who returned from Italy in Madhya Pradesh have been put under isolation for suspected exposure to the coronavirus, reports PTI. Seoni District Vaccination Officer says none of them exhibited symptoms of the infection, but the step was taken as a precaution.
5.38 pm: Sikkim government suspends issuance of Inner Line Permit to foreigners over coronavirus scare, reports PTI. The permit is a travel document required by anyone from other parts of the country entering places designated “protected areas”.
5.33 pm: Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announces that all passengers arriving from China and South Korea will be quarantined from March 9, reports AFP. “We will ask them to stay in designated areas for two weeks and not to use public transport,” he adds.
5.30 pm: Schools and universities in Iran to be closed until early April because of the coronavirus outbreak, reports AFP. “People should not consider this as an opportunity to go travelling,” Health Minister Saeed Namaki says. “They should stay home and take our warnings seriously.”
5.25 pm: A shipping ministry official says as many as 16,076 crew members and passengers onboard ships from China and other coronavirus-hit countries have been scanned and not allowed to disembark at Indian ports as a precautionary step, PTI reports.
5.19 pm: Palestinians shut West Bank to tourists for two weeks over coronavirus outbreak, reports AFP.
5.15 pm: The Indian government says there is no shortage of raw ingredients or medicines in the country for next three months to fight coronavirus, reports PTI. Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers DV Sadananda Gowda says all initiatives are being taken to ensure there is no impact of the illness in the country.
5.05 pm: Iran announces 15 new coronavirus deaths, reports AFP. The total number of dead has risen to 102, one of the highest outside China where the epidemic originated late last year.
4.53 pm: The Ministry of External Affairs responds to reports that 495 Iranian tourists are untraceable, ANI reports. Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar says they have not received any information about this from the Iranian embassy. “Some Iranian tourists who’re in India had come here before the coronavirus outbreak and they can’t return as no flight is operating between the two countries at present,” he adds.
4.50 pm: Union minister Giriraj Singh says people are creating panic about coronavirus due to lack of knowledge, ANI reports. “Animal Husbandry, Dairy and Dairying Department has already clarified that COVID-19 is not transmitted through meat, egg or fish,” he adds.
4.42 pm: The Ministry of External Affairs says that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cancelled his visit to Belgium for the India-European Union Summit, reports ANI. “As far as India-EU Summit is concerned which PM Modi had to attend, the health authorities of both the countries suggested that travelling must not take place at present,” ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar says. “So, it has been decided that Summit will be rescheduled on a mutually convenient date.”
4.30 pm: Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia says that both private and government schools upto class 5 in the national Capital will be shut till March 31 to prevent spread of coronavirus, reports ANI.
3.55 pm: The Delhi government has advised head of departments, autonomous bodies and municipal corporations to suspend the biometric attendance system, reports News18.
3.28 pm: The International Air Transport Association says the coronavirus outbreak could cost airlines $113 billion revenue in 2020, reports AFP.
3.25 pm: Switzerland reports it first death in the coronavirus outbreak, reports Reuters. The 74-year-old woman was hospitalised in Lausanne on Tuesday. She also suffered from a chronic illness.
3.21 pm: Coronavirus does not spread through chicken, mutton, seafood, clarifies the chief of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, according to The Indian Express.
3.18 pm: The Punjab government organises an awareness camp on coronavirus at Golden Temple in Amritsar.
3.14 pm: A map showing the confirmed cases in India as of March 5.
3.10 pm: One more case of coronavirus has been detected in Ghaziabad, reports PTI. The patient had a travel history to Iran. The total number of confirmed cases is 30 now.
3.08 pm: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issues additional travel advisory. “In addition to visa restrictions already in place, passengers traveling from/having visited Italy or Republic of Korea and desirous of entering India will need certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from the designated laboratories authorised by the health authorities of these countries,” it says. This temporary measure will come into effect from March 10.
2.35 pm: Bosnia confirms its first case of the coronavirus, reports Reuters citing the state media. No other details are available immediately.
2.18 pm: Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers DV Sadananda Gowda says there is no shortage of raw ingredients or medicines in India to tackle the coronavirus crisis, reports PTI.
2.17 pm: State-run entities in China have allocated 110.48 billion yuan (Rs 1.17 lakh crore) in coronavirus-related funding as of March 4, says Vice Finance Minister Xu Hongcai.
2.11 pm: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani says no positive case of coronavirus has been found in the state so far, reports PTI. Several people, including 87 who came back from Iran, are currently kept under observation.
The state government is alert and fully prepared to deal with any situation, adds the chief minister. “The state government has made elaborate arrangements for the treatment of those suspected to be having such symptoms.”
2.02 pm: Rahul Gandhi likens Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan’s assurance to that of the captain of the Titanic ship. “The health minister saying that the Indian government has the coronavirus crisis under control, is like the Captain of the Titanic telling passengers not to panic as his ship was unsinkable,” he tweets.
1.59 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi says the government must make public an action plan “backed by solid resources” to deal with the crisis, reports PTI.
1.55 pm: Chinese President Xi Jinping warns of the coronavirus epidemic escalating outside Hubei province. He makes the comments at a meeting of the Communist Party of China. “While the task of containing the epidemic remains arduous and onerous in the outbreak epicentre Hubei province and its capital city Wuhan, the risk of an outbreak is rising in other regions as more people move around and crowds gather,” Xi was quoted as saying by Xinhua. He added that there should be no relaxation in the “epidemic response preparedness”.
1.50 pm: An Indian student in Dubai has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, reports Gulf News. The total number of cases in the United Arab Emirates is now 27.
“A 16-year student of an Indian school in Dubai has tested positive for the coronavirus,” the Dubai Health Authority says in a statement. “The infection was contracted from the student’s parent who had travelled overseas. The parent developed symptoms five days after returning to Dubai. Both the student and family members have been quarantined in hospital and are stable and recovering well. All other family members have also been quarantined.”
The Indian school will be closed from Thursday as a precautionary measure.
1.40 pm: BJP legislator Hanuman Beniwal in the Lok Sabha said Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi must get tested for coronavirus as they have just returned from Italy. Congress MPs then demanded an apology or his suspension.
Another BJP MP, Ramesh Bidhuri, made a similar remark. “Rahul Gandhi returned from Italy just six days ago, so he should be checked for coronavirus,” he said. “MPs who sit with Rahul Gandhi may also catch the virus. Many from Italy have tested positive for coronavirus. He should get himself tested and inform parliament.”
1.14 pm: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar says a medical team for screening will arrive in Iran today. “Hope to establish first clinic at Qom by this evening,” he adds.
1.12 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray says next eight days crucial, reports PTI. “We have to remain cautious,” he adds.
1.01 pm: The Union Health Ministry in India asks states to form rapid response teams at the district, block and village levels, reports PTI. “Since, in addition to COVID-19 cases related to travel, some cases of community transmission have also been observed, it has been decided to involve district collectors and states have been asked to form rapid response teams as the district, block and village levels,” the ministry says.
12.57 pm: Thailand confirms four more coronavirus cases in the country. The toll number of infections in the country is now 47.
12.54 pm: Facebook confirms that an employee at its Seattle office has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, reports Bloomberg. The Seattle office will be closed for all employees till March 9.
12.18 pm: India is in touch with Iran for the possible evacuation of Indian pilgrims and students, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told the Rajya Sabha earlier in the day.
12.15 pm: The novel coronavirus is now in over 75 countries with over 94,000 cases confirmed worldwide, says WHO.
12.10 pm: Telangana High Court orders the state government to take precautionary steps and issue advisories against large-scale Holi celebrations, reports News18.
12.04 pm: The pet dog of a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong has been confirmed to be infected with the virus, marking what’s likely the first known instance of human-to-animal transmission, reports AFP. Tests confirmed the virus in the pet’s nasal and oral cavities, “which indicates a low-level of infection”.
11.33 am: Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi says the biggest public places in India are railway stations. He adds that advisory announcements on COVID-19 should be made at all railway stations and big bus stations.
11.31 am: The minister adds that Indians have been advised against travel to China, South Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan. “The visas of people travelling to India from the aforementioned countries — if issued after March 3, and in case of China, February 5 — have been suspended immediately.”
11.29 am: Screening facility is available at 21 airports now, says Vardhan.
11.26 am: Vardhan mentions the successful evacuation operations carried out so far. He also reads out figures on the number of evacuees and those who have been screened.
11.21 am: In Rajya Sabha, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan reads out a statement on the COVID-19 situation in India. “The Ministry is constantly reviewing the evolving scenario,” he says. Travel advisories are getting revised according to the evolving situation, he adds.
11.01 am: The Sikkim government says no positive case has been detected in the state so far, reports PTI. Over 4.06 lakh passengers have been screened.
However, 14 passengers have reported their “travel history connected with China and Nepal”, says the state health department. Four people have been kept under observation as a precautionary measure.
10.53 am: Researchers in China have said that the novel coronavirus is mutating – and has at least two types of the virus now, reports South China Morning Post. The more aggressive strain among these has infected 70% of the people tested.
10.48 am: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will address the two Houses of Parliament on coronavirus today. He will speak in Lok Sabha at noon and at Rajya Sabha at 2 pm, reports News18.
10.45 am: The 14 Italians, who tested positive for coronavirus, have been shifted to the Medanta Hospital in Gurgaon from an ITBP quarantine centre, reports PTI. The hospital says these patients are kept in a separate floor that has no contact with the rest of the facility. A dedicated medical team wearing protective gear is looking after these patients.
10.40 am: The Karnataka government has asked companies to allow their employees to work from home if they have flu-like symptoms, reports PTI. “Those employees having flu like symptoms may be allowed to work from home with advice of standard hand hygiene and cough etiquette,” says the health department said in its advisory.
The health department also asked people to avoid non-essential travel to COVID-19 affected countries. “Employees other than those restricted countries arriving directly or indirectly from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, Hong Kong, Maccau, Veitnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, the UAE and Qatar must undergo medical screening at airport entry,” the advisory read.
10.10 am: Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist at the World Health Organization, tells News18 in an interview that India should be able to tackle the crisis.
10.01 am: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked his countrymen to adopt the Indian way of greeting instead of the usual handshakes. At a press conference, he even demonstrated how Indians do “namaste” while greeting each other.
9.58 am: Five patients suspected of having novel coronavirus have tested negative in Bengaluru, reports NDTV. Two of them had come in close contact with the engineer who tested positive for coronavirus, said Dr C Nagaraj, the director of Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases.
9.56 am: The Maharashtra has asked citizens to use clean handkerchiefs instead of face masks. “There is no need for any panic,” says state Health Minister Rajesh Tope. “Worldwide, the incidence of deaths is around 2.5%-3% of those who are infected.”
9.53 am: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said that India may set up a laboratory in Iran to test Indians there for novel coronavirus before bringing them back, reports PTI. The Iranian government is yet to give permission for it. Around 1,200 Indians are in Iran currently.
9.46 am: The Central Board of Secondary Education has allowed students appearing for Class 10 and 12 board examinations to carry masks and hand sanitisers in the exam centre, reports PTI.
9.44 am: The release date of the new James Bond movie, ‘No Time to Die’, has been changed to November over fears of coronavirus. The film was set to have its premiere in London on March 31, and worldwide release in April.
9.37 am: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has issued an advisory to all the chief Secretaries and administrators of states and union territories regarding precautions against COVID-19 to prevent the spread of infection among schoolchildren, reports ANI.
9.31 am: Microsoft Corporation has asked its employees in the US to work from home till March 25, reports Reuters. It has also asked employees to suspend any business travel “unless essential for the continuity of Microsoft.”
8.09 am: The Uttar Pradesh government has set up an 18-member committee led by Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh to monitor the overall situation in the state, PTI reports. The state government has also issued directives to all the districts asking them to maintain round the clock vigil to identify any suspected case of the virus. Samples of 137 people have been sent for testing, of which 109 have been negative and results for 28 others are awaited.
8 am: The toll in the United States has risen to 11 on Wednesday, with an elderly person who had taken a cruise to Mexico becoming the first individual to die in California state, AFP reported. Meanwhile, Washington state, which has recorded all the other deaths, has reported its 10th fatality on Wednesday.
7.55 am: Sirsa Deputy Civil Surgeon Dr Viresh Bhushan says that the Haryana town has so far sent three samples for testing, but all of them have turned out to be negative, ANI reports. He adds that a person who had travelled to Italy and had symptoms of cold and cough was tested negative for the illness.
7.50 am: China has reported 139 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, according to the South China Morning Post. As many as 31 new deaths have been reported, including that of a man who had “recovered” from the coronavirus.
7.44 am: Italy says it will close all schools for 10 days, starting Thursday, as new cases of coronavirus emerge in the country, BBC reports. As many as 107 people have been killed in Italy so far, and over 3,000 infected.
7.41 am: Dr Vivek Kashyap, superintendent of RIMS Hospital in Ranchi, Jharkhand, says that the facility has received four patients so far, two of whom had travelled to Indonesia, one to Bahrain and one to China, ANI reports. He says their blood samples have been sent for testing after they showed symptoms like fever and cough.
“But we have kept them under observation as the protocol permits,” he adds. “If they are tested negative they will be sent for home isolation.”
This is what happened yesterday:
- As many as 23 people tested positive for the coronavirus in India. This included the wife of an Italian tourist, six members of the family of an infected Delhi resident, 15 persons at an Indo-Tibetan Border Police quarantine facility, and a Paytm employee.
- Union Health Minister Vardhan said that all passengers flying in from abroad, not just from designated countries, will now be tested for the coronavirus.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he will not participate in Holi events as experts have advised against mass gatherings to avoid the spread of coronavirus.
- Eight persons were placed under observation for a possible infection in Andhra Pradesh.
- Israel ordered quarantine for people arriving from France, Germany, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland.
- Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani refused help from the United States to combat the coronavirus.
- The number of people who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the United Kingdom went up to 85.
- France closed 120 schools in areas with the highest number of coronavirus infections.
- Mainland China reported 38 more deaths by Wednesday morning, whereas the number of cases has surged to 80,270.