The Ministry of Health has instructed all hospitals they cannot turn away patients suspected of having coronavirus, and that patients with pneumonia should also be tested for the disease.
The Indian Council of Medical Research confirmed there were 236 confirmed active cases of coronavirus in the country. With the Centre confirming more than 50 new cases today, this is the highest increase in a single day so far.
The Maharashtra government on Friday said workplaces in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region – Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Nagpur – will remain closed till March 31, and government offices will operate at 25% attendance. Delhi announced closure of all stores in malls apart from essential services such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
COVID-19 has infected 2,55,305 people worldwide and killed 10,444, according to an estimate from John Hopkins University, which is live-tracking cases reported by the World Health Organization and additional sources.
The national helpline number for the coronavirus is 011-23978046, and a toll-free number 1075.
Here are the day’s top updates:
11.08 pm: Italy reports 627 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, taking the toll to 4,032. The number of infections rise to 47,021 despite the government’s efforts to tackle the crisis. Italy now accounts for 36.6% of the world’s COVID-19 deaths, according to the Guardian.
This is the highest number of deaths the country has seen in a single day.
10.57 pm: IndiGo is cutting a quarter of its domestic flights due to reduced demand, reports PTI. On Sunday, the airline will fly only 60% of flights, it says, due to the “janata curfew”.
10.44 pm: The state of Meghalaya will be shut down on Saturday, starting at midnight tonight. Saturday will be observed as “coronavirus awareness day”, PTI quotes Chief Minister Conrad Sangma as saying.
10.40 pm: GoAir says it is suspending all flights on Sunday because of the “janata curfew”, reports PTI.
10.14 pm: After a second person in Odisha tested positive for the virus, the state has closed restaurants and other places, and banned the gathering of large crowds, including at bus stops etc. Large markets have been told not to sell anything besides essential goods. The government has also told journalists to skip daily press briefings and to instead get their information through WhatsApp and other platforms, reports PTI.
10.12 pm: Four people test positive for coronavirus in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, reports PTI. Three of them have returned from Dubai, and the fourth came back from Germany, Jabalpur District Collector Bharat Yadav says.
10.05 pm: Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the country will temporarily turn away asylum-seekers at its border with the US. “Canada and the United States are announcing a reciprocal arrangement that we will now be returning irregular migrants that attempt to cross anywhere at the Canada-US border,” The Guardian reports Trudeau as saying.
So far, Canada has almost 1,000 cases of the virus. Trudeau has also been under quarantine after his wife tested positive for COVID-19.
10.03 pm: The number of cases in the US includes more than 7,000 in New York now. Governor Andrew Cuomo says New York now has 7,102 positive cases of COVID-19 and more than 32,000 people have been tested in the state.
10.02 pm: The US has at least 15,500 cases now, according to CNN. So far, 197 people have died of the virus across all 50 states.
9.53 pm: Government employees over the age of 50 can go on leave without a medical certificate, and those above 50 with health problems such as diabetes can go on leave up to April 4 without providing a medical certificate, says PTI.
9.46 pm: Jamia Millia asks students to vacate its hostel by Monday, until March 31. Students living abroad will be allowed to remain. The order is likely to be extended, the university adds.
9.25 pm: The government will allow consultant and contractual staff associated with the central government departments to work from home, reports PTI.
8.51 pm: According to the Indian Council of Medical Research, 236 people have tested positive for the virus so far.
8.45 pm: Tamil Nadu is closing its borders to neighbouring states from Saturday till March 31, reports PTI. Limited state buses will ply during this time, and only trucks carrying essential goods will be allowed to move.
8.30 pm: Uttar Pradesh’s Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh has a coronavirus test after he came in contact with infected singer Kanika Kapoor. Three BJP MLAs who met Singh are also quarantined at home now, reports PTI.
8.25 pm: Arvind Kejriwal says “we are all in this together as one team” after a video conference Modi had with all chief ministers earlier.
8.05 pm: An advisory from the Ministry of Health instructs all hospital, public and private, to take in all patients suspected of having COVID-19. Hospitals must notify the National Centre for Disease Control and the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme of all such patients.
The ministry adds that patients with pneumonia should also be tested for the virus and hospitals should notify the two health agencies of such cases as well.
7.50 pm: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan says 12 more people tested positive for the virus in the state, bringing the total there to 40. Five more people in Ernakulam, six in Kasargod, and one person in Palakkad have the virus, reports ANI.
7.36 pm: The chief of the United Nations’ World Food Programme tests positive for coronavirus, says CNN. David Beasley says he is now working to trace back people whom he has come in contact with. He was in Canada on work and returned home to the United States, after which he put himself in quarantine.
7.34 pm: Bars and pubs in Bengaluru will be closed from tomorrow till March 31. All restaurants and cafes will not be allowed to serve food either, only takeaway will be permitted.
7.33 pm: Public transportation in Bhubaneswar will have to follow the odd-even rule for the next few weeks, reports ANI. This includes buses, taxis and autorickshaws.
7.24 pm: Pilgrims will not be allowed into Kerala’s Sabarimala temple for 10 days. The Krishna temple at Guruvayur, Thrissur, will also be shut from tomorrow until further notice, reports PTI.
7.03 pm: A third person dies of coronavirus in Pakistan, while the number of cases in the country rises to 464, say local reports.
7.02 pm: The Jaipur metro will be shut till March 22.
6.57 pm: Air Canada lays off flight attendants, reports CNN. The airline says some employees will be reinstated when the number of flights increases.
6.45 pm: The Delhi High Court issues notices to the health ministry and Directorate General of Civil Aviation, seeking their responses on a plea challenging the ban on passengers from the European Union, Britain and Turkey.
The plea was filed by a man whose son is in Scotland and unable to return due to the travel ban, reports PTI. He said his son and other Indian students at a university in Edinburgh are unable to return home amid the pandemic.
6.40 pm: A look at the day-to-day cases in India.
6.30 pm: Five foreign nationals in Kerala have tested positive for the virus, says minister VS Sunil Kumar, PTI reports.
According to News18, the five are British citizens who fled a resort in Munnar on Sunday. They were later tracked to the Kochi airport where they were trying to board an Emirates flight.
6.25 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says she urged the prime minister to stop all international flights to her state, reports PTI. She says she also asked Modi to help the unorganised sector, which is suffering due to the pandemic.
6.16 pm: Here is a look at the cases confirmed in India so far:
6.11 pm: Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh puts himself under quarantine after attending a party where singer Kanika Kapoor was present, reports ANI. Kapoor has tested positive for the virus.
6.02 pm: Four people who travelled from Australia to Mumbai have not quarantined themselves despite bearing the “home quarantine” stamp, according to News18.
5.51 pm: Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro says he may take a new coronavirus test, reports The Guardian. Last week, he said he had tested negative.
5.45 pm: The Bengaluru metro will also not run on Sunday, when Modi has called for a “people’s curfew”, reports The Times of India.
5.25 pm: Delhi suspends its Hop On, Hop Off tourist bus service. All three Dilli Haat markets will also be closed, says Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
5.24 pm: There are two more coronavirus cases in Gujarat, bringing the number in the state to 7, reports ANI.
5.22 pm: All public transport in Jammu district is being suspended until further notice, says All India Radio News. A few state buses will ply for government officials and stranded tourists only.
5.07 pm: The Ministry of Health says there are 223 positive coronavirus cases in the country now. This does not include those cured or patients who died.
5.02 pm: Manipur’s renowned women’s market or Ima Keithel has been closed till March 24.
4.45 pm: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan writes to National Bank for Agriculture & Rural Development seeking urgent proactive steps to help states with special packages to tackle COVID-19.
4.41 pm: Union Public Service Commission defers the personality interviews of civil services (main) examination that was scheduled between March 23 and April 3.
4.35 pm: BJP leader Vasundhara Raje and her son Dushyant Singh have self-quarantined themselves after attending a dinner where singer Kanika Kapoor, who has tested positive, was also present.
4.30 pm: All restaurants and other eateries will remain closed in Lucknow till March 31, ANI reports.
4.25 pm: The Ministry of Home Affairs says the government grants consular services “on gratis basis” to foreign nationals currently in India and affected by the travel restrictions, ANI reports.
4.20 pm: Agarwal also confirms the ICMR’s numbers and says that 206 positive cases have been reported in India so far. “More than 6,700 contacts of them are being monitored,” he says, according to ANI. “Four deaths took place, they were all over 64 years of age and had co-morbidity due to which they were vulnerable.”
4.13 pm: Union health ministry’s Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal says Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a video conference with chief ministers of all states. “I request everyone in the society to use our toll free number 1075, seek information and steer clear of all kinds of misinformation,” he says.
4.11 pm: Union health ministry begins briefing the media.
4.09 pm: Sarma adds that many students from Assam are stuck in various countries. “We will transfer $200 to them so that they can have an allowance till flight services [to India] are resumed,” he adds, according to ANI.
4.07 pm: Sarma says the state has sent recommendation to the Election Commission to take appropriate decision on Bodoland Territorial Council elections. “Hand stamping will start from day after tomorrow for people who are coming from outside the state,” he says, according to ANI.
4.05 pm: Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma says no positive case has been identified in the state. “From today we have issued certain instructions that in government offices only 50% of employees will come on a rotational basis,” he tells ANI. “All examinations have been cancelled.”
3.58 pm: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has written to chief secretaries of all state and Union Territories to uniformly implement social distancing guidelines.
3.55 pm: Uttar Pradesh Government has designated six hospitals in Lucknow for treatment of coronavirus namely – Lok Bandhu Hospital, Civil Hospital, Balrampur Hospital, King George’s Medical University, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences, reports ANI.
3.52 pm: In Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow, all offices and institutions – apart from hospitals, pharmacies, pathlabs, and services under the Essential Commodities Act – in the areas of Khurram Nagar will remain closed till March 23, where the four cases of coronavirus, cropped up on Friday.
Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor is one of the four who tested positive.
3.50 pm: Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister BS Sidhu says the sample of the woman in Mohali who tested positive will be sent for another test. “Family members of the woman have been shifted to a hospital,” he adds, according to ANI. “We are doing contact tracing to avoid spread of the virus.”
3.49 pm: The Union Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has called a meeting with members of Parliament on coronavirus. Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and BJP President JP Nadda among those at the meeting, reports ANI.
3.46 pm: Karnataka Minister B Sriramulu says the state has 15 confirmed coronavirus cases so far. “Two COVID-19 patients who are recovering will soon be discharged from the hospital,” he adds, according to ANI.
3.36 pm: Uttarakhand government bans the entry of domestic and foreign visitors into the state to contain the spread of coronavirus, reports ANI. One person has been infected in the state.
3.32 pm: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation says it will not operate on Sunday due to “janata curfew”. “In the wake of ‘janata curfew’ to be observed this Sunday ie, on 22nd March 2020, DMRC has decided to keep its services closed,” the official account tweets. “The move is aimed at encouraging public to stay indoors and maintain social distancing, which is essential in the fight against Covid-19.”
3.11 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says her administration is creating an emergency relief fund to collect assistance from those who wish to donate. Banerjee announces that state government employees will work in rotation, reports PTI.
3.08 pm: Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla says the Parliament of India stands with the resolution of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to impose a “janata curfew” on Sunday. “All parties have agreed to it,” he says, according to ANI. “In this time of crisis we all will stand together, this is the specialty of Indian democracy.”
3.06 pm: In India, the Delhi High Court asks the central government to reply to a plea challenging the ban on passenger travel from the United Kingdom and other countries, due to coronavirus, reports ANI.
3.04 pm: A Chinese-Australian woman has been fired by her employers in Beijing and asked to leave China for breaking quarantine to go for a jog, reports CNN.
3.02 pm: YouTube says it will reduce its streaming quality in the European Union and the United Kingdom to avert an internet gridlock, reports CNN.
3.01 pm: Air Canada likely to lay off over 5,100 employees amid coronavirus outbreak, reports CBC News.
2.58 pm: Walmart says it plans to hire 1,50,000 people amid increasing demand during the coronavirus crisis. The retail company says it will pay out $365 million in bonuses, reports AFP.
2.53 pm: The coronavirus has infected 2,44,602 people, and killed 10,031 people in the world, according to an estimate from John Hopkins University, which is live-tracking cases reported by the World Health Organization and additional sources.
2.47 pm: The Karnataka government releases new helpline numbers 080-46848600 and 080-66692000. The earlier 104 helpline is also functional.
2.44 pm: The Karnataka administration says 100 teams have been formed, comprising one doctor with community medicine/public health background, one staff nurse and one medico social worker for contact tracing specifically in Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike area, reports ANI.
2.42 pm: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh speaks about the effects of coronavirus on the global economy. “There would certainly be an impact of the global economy on all nations,” he says. “But I feel there would be hardly any impact on India’s defence procurement.”
2.41 pm: Ladakh administration says no commercial flights landing at Leh shall carry in-bound passengers apart from residents of Ladakh, civilian officers and officers of uniformed forces serving in Ladakh, reports ANI.
2.36 pm: Maharashtra Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad says all examinations from Class 1 to 8 are cancelled, reports ANI. All students will be promoted to the next class without exam.
“Exams for Classes 9 and 11 will be conducted after April 15,” Gaikwad adds. “Teachers, except the ones for Class 10, can work from home. Two papers of Class 10 are left. It will take place as per schedule. These decisions are for SSC Board.”
2.27 pm: The Delhi Chief Minister says he has met all heads of departments and secretaries. “All non-essential public dealing activities stopped till March 31,” he says. “Only essential public dealing activities will continue. All non-essential staff are being directed to work from home. All permanent and contractual employees will be paid for this period.”
2 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says all malls in Delhi, excluding grocery, pharmacy and vegetable shops, will be closed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
1.57 pm: The Maharashtra chief minister says citizens should take precautions for the next 15 days.
1.55 pm: Thackeray says groceries, milk and other day to day items shall be available. He also urges citizens to reduce unnecessary movement to contain the spread of coronavirus.
1.52 pm: Uddhav Thackeray announces that all workplaces in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region – Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Nagpur will remain closed till March 31. He also says government offices to operate at 25% attendance.
1.50 pm: Thackeray says local trains, buses will operate for now, but shutting down public transport in Mumbai will be the last resort, reports PTI. Maharashtra has the highest number of coronavirus cases in India.
1.47 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray addresses a press conference on the coronavirus situation in the state.
1.44 pm: Harsh Vardhan Shringla briefed the participants on the steps taken by India both nationally and in the region to contain the spread of coronavirus. He conveyed India’s desire to regularly share its perspectives with partners in the region and to work together with others to counter the epidemic.
1.42 pm: Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla participated in a telephonic conference call initiated by US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, reports ANI. Senior representatives from Australia, the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, New Zealand, and Japan shared their assessments of the current situation.
1.36 pm: Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope says five people who were admitted in hospitals have tested negative for the coronavirus, reports ANI. He adds that they are about to be discharged but will be kept under surveillance for 14 days.
1.33 pm: YouTube says it will reduce its streaming quality in the European Union to avert internet gridlock as thousands of Europeans, constrained by the coronavirus outbreak, switch to working from home, reports Reuters.
1.30 pm: The Delhi High Court decides to extend the restriction on its functioning till April 3 due to the coronavirus crisis, reports PTI.
1.23 pm: New Delhi Traders Association President Atul Bhargava says Connaught Place will be closed from 7 am to 9pm on Sunday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked people to observe a “janata curfew”, or to stay indoors, on Sunday due to the coronavirus outbreak.
1.20 pm: Chhattisgarh government orders all schools to be closed till further notice to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the state, reports PTI. “In view of the first case of coronavirus patient being reported in Raipur on Thursday, the order was amended on the direction of Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel,” a government official says. “Now schools will remain closed till further orders.”
1.18 pm: The Jawaharlal Nehru University has asked it’s students to vacate hostels amid the coronavirus pandemic and said mess facilities would only be available for the next 48 hours, reports PTI. The university also says it would remain closed till March 31 with immediate effect.
1.11 pm: Trinamool Congress member Sukhendu Sekhar Roy has decided to remain in self-quarantine due to rising cases of coronavirus and abstain from attending the ongoing Rajya Sabha session, reports PTI. It is not clear if he has any symptoms of the coronavirus.
1.05 pm: Eighteen companies, both international and Indian, have got the test licence from Drug Controller General of India, reports ANI. They can now do diagnostic tests in the country for coronavirus.
1.03 pm: CoSara Diagnostics Private Limited, a firm in Ahmedabad, is the first in India to get licence to manufacture coronavirus test kits, reports Ahmedabad Mirror.
1 pm: Sun Weidong, China’s ambassador to India, says China will organise a video conference to discuss ways to prevent and control coronavirus infections. “China will hold a video conference with more than 10 countries in the Eurasian [region] and South Asia on prevention and control of Covid-19 today,” he says in a tweet. “China will support and assist its friendly neighbors in the spirit of solidarity amid adversity.”
India will be represented by official of joint secretary rank from health ministry, according to Hindustan Times.
12.55 pm: Coimbatore District Collector Rasamani says the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border will be closed today evening to contain the spread of COVID-19, reports ANI. Kerala has the second highest number of positive cases after Maharashtra.
12.50 pm: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan says coronavirus infections have not reached the “community level” in India, adding that the government is trying to use “good information” in the best manner to deal with the situation, reports PTI. The minister tells Lok Sabha that there is a well-defined protocol and scientific advice on who needs to be tested for the coronavirus infection.
12.46 pm: China’s coronavirus infections from abroad hit a new daily record while infected travellers reached an unprecedented number of provinces in the country, reports Reuters. China has 39 new confirmed cases, the country’s National Health Commission says, all of which were imported cases. There were no locally transmitted cases for the second day.
12.40 pm: Firozpur rail division cancels 14 trains in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra after the state government banned entry of all tourists over the coronavirus pandemic, railway spokesperson says, according to PTI.
12.32 pm: Railway officials clarify information regarding the officer who was suspended for hiding her son’s travel information after he tested positive for the coronavirus. They say the son had come from Spain and not Italy as reported earlier. He was was working in Germany and had taken a flight from Spain to return to India, they add.
The suspended Railway officer is posted on Bengaluru.
12.28 pm: Congress leader P Chidambaram says the war against coronavirus cannot be fought with “moral armaments” and that lockdown was the only solution.
“ICMR says that the disease is still at Stage 2 [local transmission] in India,” he tweets. “This is the moment to act. Let us not allow this moment to pass without decisive action and regret later. I have offered our support to the prime minister’s announcements yesterday, but I am absolutely certain that the PM will have no option but to come back with tougher social and economic measures.”
12.22 pm: Supreme Court stays Kerala High Court order asking authorities not to levy GST, taxes and recover banks’ dues till April 6 because of the coronavirus pandemic, reports PTI.
12.18 pm: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik writes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to postpone scheduled census and related activities in the country due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports The Leaflet.
12.05 pm: The Indian Council of Medical Research says it has conducted tests on 14,376 samples from 13,486 individuals for the COVID-19 virus till 10 am on Friday. Among these, 206 individuals were confirmed positive for the coronavirus among suspected cases and contacts of known positive cases.
12 pm: The government has set up a WhatsApp helpdesk for people who have queries about the novel coronavirus. The number is 9013151515.
11.56 am: South Korea and China support Japan holding a “complete” Olympics, the South Korean foreign ministry has said after teleconference talks on how the regional powers are handling the outbreak, according to The Guardian.
11.50 am: South Korea to test every person entering the country from Europe for coronavirus, starting on Sunday, the country’s health ministry announces, reports CNN. The country has reported 87 new cases, taking the total to 8,652.
11.42 am: Delhi government issues an advisory for the private sector to allow their employees to work from home till March 31 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, reports PTI. In the advisory, the government also urges people, particularly senior citizens, pregnant women and those affected with hypertension and diabetes, to remain at home.
11.38 am: Jayanti Ravi, principal secretary of Gujarat health department, says two people from Ahmedabad and one from Vadodara have tested positive for COVID-19, reports ANI. “The person in Vadodara has a history of travel to Spain, the two people in Ahmedabad had travelled to Finland and New York,” she adds. “The person from Rajkot had landed at Mumbai Airport and travelled from Mumbai to Jamnagar by train.”
11.35 am: Andhra Pradesh health minister says a man who had recently returned from Saudi Arabia has tested positive for COVID-19 in Visakhapatnam, reports ANI. The total number of cases in the state is now three.
11.33 am: A 69-year-old Italian tourist, who had reportedly recovered from coronavirus, dies of cardiac arrest in Jaipur, reports PTI.
11.28 am: Sri Lanka imposes two-and-a-half day curfew to contain the spread of coronavirus, reports The Colombo Page. It will be effect from 6 pm today until 6 am on Monday.
11.22 am: Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien questions why Parliament is running despite Centre’s coronavirus advisory that has asked people above 65 to stay at home. “Govt advisory asks people 65+to stay home,” he tweets. “Sunday curfew announced. And yet! Why is Parliament running? Why this confused messaging? About 44% MPs in RS and 22% MPs in LS are 65 and above. Ignore advisory? And you yourself mostly missing from Parliament floor.”
11.16 am: South Western Railway suspends an officer after she allegedly hid information about her son who had returned from Italy. The officer’s son is now in isolation after the officials got information about him, reports ANI.
11.11 am: Shiv Sena questions why Parliament is working if Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants people to practice social distancing as coronavirus cases surge in the country, reports PTI. “Shutting down or slowing down the government work on one hand, but being adamant in keeping the Parliament session on the other is certainly not aimed at keeping up the great democratic traditions,” the party says in an editorial in Sena mouthpiece Saamana.
11.06 am: Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope says three more people have tested positive for the coronavirus, reports ANI. The new cases have been reported from Pimpri-Chinchwad, Pune and Mumbai. The total number of cases in the state now rises to 52.
11 am: Vietnam will temporarily suspend visa-free travel for citizens of Japan, Belarus and Russia from Saturday, reports Reuters. The country’s health ministry reported nine more coronavirus cases on Friday, bringing total to 85.
10.58 am: The potential economic impact of the coronavirus has been clear for some time. The Task Force created by Narendra Modi needs to move quickly to address the needs of ordinary people.
10.52 am: The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Telangana rises to 16 with three more confirmed cases, PTI reports. Of these three cases, one person had returned from Dubai and the other two from London, according to official information.
10.40 am: Malaysia will deploy the army from Sunday to assist police to enforcing a partial lockdown, reports Reuters. The announcement follows curbs imposed on travel and businesses this week, as infections spiked to 900, with two dead.
10.36 am: Tesla Inc says it will suspend production at its San Francisco Bay Area vehicle factory on March 24, ending a standoff with California authorities concerned about the spread of the coronavirus, reports Reuters. The company says its New York solar roof tile factory also will temporarily suspend production, while operations at its Nevada battery plant will continue.
10.30 am: Thailand confirms 50 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally to 322, reports The Guardian. A group of 41 new cases is linked to earlier infections, while another, of nine, centres on overseas arrivals and contact with foreigners, says the disease control department.
10.26 am: Four more people have tested positive for the coronavirus in Lucknow, reports ANI, citing the administration of King George’s Medical University. This takes total number of cases in Lucknow to nine.
10.18 am: Odisha reports second coronavirus case after researcher who returned from Italy tested positive, according to PTI. “Today 14 samples were tested at RMRC [Regional Medical Research Centre] Bhubaneswar out of which one is positive for COVID-19,” says the Health and Family Welfare Department.
10.12 am: Prisoners at Maharashtra’s Nagpur Central Jail have started manufacturing the essential protective gear and masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, reports PTI. “Prisoners working in the jail’s stitching department manufacture hundreds of masks every day and these are supplied to several prisons and government departments in the state,” Jail Superintendent Anup Kumre says.
10.08 am: Argentina has gone into lockdown after President Alberto Fernandez enacted new measures ordering people to stay in their homes with limited exceptions as part of the country’s push to stop the spread of the coronavirus, reports CNN.
10.05 am: India has had more than two months to prepare for a coronavirus outbreak. The government has been tardy in revealing the specifics and a collective of health reporters have put together 10 urgent questions for the government.
10 am: The Cannes Film Festival in May has been postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus, say the organisers of the annual event in southern France. Several new dates were under consideration, including the end of June, they said in a statement. The film festival, one of the largest in the world, was due to take place from May 12 to 23.
9.56 am: A man with recent travel history to UK tests positive for COVID-19 in West Bengal, reports PTI.
9.52 am: A 69-year-old woman, who recently returned from the United Kingdom, has tested positive for coronavirus in Punjab, reports PTI. This takes the total number of cases in Punjab to three. “The woman, a resident of Phase 3 A in Mohali, has tested positive for coronavirus,” says Deputy Commissioner Girish Dayalan.
9.45 am: In an unusual move, China exonerates a doctor who was reprimanded for warning about the coronavirus outbreak and later died of the disease, reports The Guardian, citing local media. Police in the city of Wuhan revoked its admonishment of doctor Li Wenliang that had included a threat of arrest and issued a “solemn apology” to his family.
Two police officers have also been issued disciplinary punishments” for the original handling of the matter.
9.40 am: President Donald Trump blames China for the coronavirus pandemic, reports PTI. “The world is paying a very big price for that they did,” Trump says, referring to his claim that Chinese officials did not fully share information sooner about the coronavirus outbreak after it began there late last year. “It could have been stopped right where it came from, China.”
9.33 am: In an article in today’s newspapers, President Ram Nath Kovind stresses on the interdependence of human beings and says that the coronavirus has struck everyone “beyond manmade distinctions of religion, race and region”.
“Equality may be a factor less apparent, but nature tells us that we are all equal,” he writes. “This new virus strikes beyond man-made distinctions of religion, race and region. The world has been busy drawing distinctions and waging wars over ‘us vs. them’. But we suddenly realise that in the face of a grave mortal threat like the present one, we have but one identity – we are human beings.”
9.25 am: In United States, the number of coronavirus deaths has crossed 200 and the total number of infections rose to more than 14,000, reports PTI.
9.20 am: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will meet the ministers of animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries, civil aviation, MSMEs, and tourism, at North Block today to assess the economic impact of the spread of coronavirus in the country, reports ANI.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing the nation on Thursday, said that the task force under the leadership of Sitharaman will be set up to check the economic challenges arising from COVID-19.
9.10 am: The Union Health Ministry says the number of positive coronavirus cases in India has increased to 195. This includes 32 foreigners and four deaths each in Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra.
9.06 am: Three passengers on board the Ruby Princess cruise ship in Australia have tested positive for COVID-19, the health minister of New South Wales says, according to Reuters. Authorities have ordered all passengers on the cruise ship to go into self-isolation.
9 am: Delhi Metro authorities issue an advisory asking commuters to use the rapid transit network only when it is “essential and unavoidable” to contain the spread of coronavirus, reports PTI. “Maintain at least 1 m distance from each other while travelling in the metro or at the station i.e. standing passengers are not allowed and alternate seats be left vacant,” the advisory issued adds.
8.58 am: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says a global recession “is a near certainty” and current national responses to the coronavirus pandemic “will not address the global scale and complexity of the crisis”.
Guterres, who was prime minister of Portugal from 1995 to 2002, calls on countries to scale up health spending and to help less-prepared nations tackle the crisis, including by supporting the efforts of the World Health Organisation. “This is a moment that demands coordinated, decisive, and innovative policy action from the world’s leading economies,” Guterres tells reporters via a video conference. “We are in an unprecedented situation and the normal rules no longer apply.”
8.50 am: The novel coronavirus has infected more than 244,000 people and killed over 10,000 worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases reported by the World Health Organisation and additional sources.
8.40 am: California’s Governor Gavin Newsom issues a statewide “stay at home” order to residents, telling them to leave their homes only when necessary during the coronavirus pandemic.
8.32 am: The US State Department raises its travel advisory to level 4, the most serious category, and advises all Americans who are abroad to return, or to make plans to stay there for a while. “The Department of State advises US citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19,” the updated advisory says. “In countries where commercial departure options remain available, US citizens who live in the United States should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.”
8.30 am: The government has prohibited the export of masks, ventilators and raw textile materials for masks and coveralls. Commerce minister Piyush Goyal says the action has been taken in a “bid to utilise the nation’s resources for the well being of Indian citizens”.
7.50 am: A plane carrying the Olympic torch from Greece arrives on Japan’s northwestern coast. However, the welcome ceremony will have no spectators. The flame will tour the Tohoku region until the kick-off ceremony in Fukushima on March 26, reports Reuters.
7.39 am: The meetings of the G7 summit, scheduled for June, will take place remotely by videoconference “in order for each country to focus all of its resources on responding to the health and economic challenges of Covid-19,” says White House spokesperson Judd Deere.
7.35 am: China reports no new local cases for a second straight day.
7.32 am: California’s governor issues a statewide “stay at home” order to residents. The Los Angeles mayor also issues a similar order. “We’re taking this urgent action to limit the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” says Mayor Eric Garcetti during a news conference.
7.31 am: Tesla Inc will suspend production in its San Francisco Bay Area vehicle factory on March 24, reports Reuters.
7.30 am: The Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy has been put under lockdown after two India Forest Service trainees were found positive, Director General of Uttarakhand Health Department Amita Upreti tells ANI.
6.58 am: The Chhattisgarh government has issued a show-cause notice to a leading private hospital in Raipur for allegedly forcibly discharging a suspected coronavirus patient without following due procedure. The hospital, however, claims the patient’s family took her away on their own accord. According to her medical records reviewed by Scroll.in, her complaints included shortness of breath, fever and a dry cough.
6.57 am: South Korea reports 87 new cases of coronavirus.
6.51 am: Argentina announces lockdown until 31 March. The country has so far recorded 128 cases including three deaths, reports The Guardian.
6.50 am: The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 3,404 new cases. The toll has risen by 53 to 150.
6.48 am: A man has been thrashed in Kolhapur city of Maharashtra after he sneezed in public, PTI reports. No police complaint has been registered.
6.47 am: As many as 427 people die in Italy, reports BBC. The number of deaths now stands at 3,405.
6.37 am: A round-up of Thursday’s developments
- Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday announced a Rs 20,000-crore financial package to tackle the crisis caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic, PTI reported. The package includes Rs 500 crore for health initiatives, and Rs 2,000 crore for loans and free ration. Kerala is the second worst-hit state in India, with 27 positive cases. Of this, three people have recovered.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Thursday about the coronavirus pandemic and asked all citizens to follow a “janata curfew”, or a self-imposed people’s curfew, on Sunday. Asking people to stay indoors from 7 am to 9 pm on Sunday, Modi said: “ Janata curfew is for the people and by the people. Only those providing essential services should step out on Sunday.” Modi urged the public to express their gratitude to those who are serving people during the crisis by stepping out to their balconies and windows on Sunday at 5 pm. “Clap your hands or ring bells to appreciate them,” he said.
- The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Thursday announced that all shops located in several localities of Mumbai will remain shut on alternate days indefinitely in order to regulate crowds on roads amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, all grocery and medical stores have been exempted from the order.
- The coronavirus pandemic could lead to the loss of nearly 25 million jobs across the world, according to a report published by a United Nations agency. In its report titled “COVID-19 and World of work: Impacts and responses”, the International Labour Organization has said that urgent, large-scale and coordinated measures – to protect workers, stimulate the economy and employment, and support jobs and income – are needed to mitigate the damage.
- The Delhi government on Thursday tightened its ban on gatherings in the Capital, reducing the number of people allowed to assemble together from 50 to 20, till March 31 in view of the novel coronavirus outbreak, ANI reported. All dine-out restaurants and eateries will also remain closed till that date, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced at a press conference. However, home delivery and takeaway services will continue to be available.
- The Centre on Thursday announced that no international flights will be allowed to land in India from March 22 for a week, intensifying the measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The government has also advised citizens above 65 years of age to stay at home unless they are public representatives, government servants or medical professionals. People have been asked to keep children below 10 at home.
- A 72-year-old man in Punjab, who returned from Germany via Italy two weeks ago, is the fourth person to die of coronavirus in India. The man had complained of severe chest pain and died at a hospital in Nawanshahr district.The man also suffered from diabetes and hypertension. He posthumously tested positive for coronavirus.
- The Indian Council of Medical Research on Thursday said all samples taken to monitor the presence of community transmission of the novel coronavirus have tested negative. The health research body is the nodal authority for screening patients for COVID-19 in India.
- The dabbawalas in Mumbai who deliver food to homes and offices will suspend services from March 20 to March 31 amid a spike in coronavirus cases in the country, ANI reported on Thursday. The Union health ministry has confirmed 42 cases of infections in Maharashtra – the highest in India. However, the state authorities have pegged the number at 49 till Thursday afternoon. A 64-year-old man had died due to it in Mumbai on Tuesday.
- The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations on Thursday said it has postponed Class 10 and Class 12 board exams amid the rising cases of coronavirus in the country. The Central Board of Secondary Education had on Wednesday postponed board exams, scheduled between March 19 and March 31.