10.29 pm: Air India will evacuate over 300 Israelis from Delhi to Tel Aviv on Thursday, ANI reports.

10.03 pm: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims that G7 nations have agreed that China was waging a “disinformation” campaign about the pandemic, AFP reports. “Every one of the nations that were at that meeting this morning was deeply aware of the disinformation campaign that the Chinese Communist Party is engaged in to try and deflect from what has really taken place,” Pompeo says. The meeting was held via video-conferencing.

9.40 pm: The number of people who have been told to stay home is now more than 3 billion worldwide, reports AFP.

8.58 pm: A British patient who was given HIV antiretroviral drugs to treat his Covid-19 infection has now tested negative, doctors at a hospital in Ernakulam say, according to PTI.

8.58 pm: The International Monetary Fund and World Bank urge governments to put a hold on debt payments from the poorest nations, AFP reports.

8.57 pm: The Jammu and Kashmir Police has filed 218 FIRs against those who violated the lockdown orders.

8.56 pm: One crore BJP workers will provide meals to five poor persons each during the lockdown, the party decides at a meeting, according to PTI.

8.55 pm: In Kolkata, 871 people have been arrested between 5 pm on Tuesday and 5 pm on Wednesday for defying the lockdown orders, PTI reports.

8.52 pm: A 65-year-old woman has succumbed to Covid-19 in Madhya Pradesh, officials tell PTI. This is the first death in the state.

8.34 pm: Railways to produce hand sanitisers for employees who are working through the coronaviurus pandemic to ensure that they do not have to depend on market supply, reports PTI.

8.33 pm: Centre asks doctors, including those who have retired, to work as volunteers in fight against coronavirus, reports PTI.

8.28 pm: United States asks its citizens in India to comply with government directives.

8.25 pm: Union Heath Minister Harsh Vardhan chairs meeting on coronavirus.

8.23 pm: FIFA says keeping close watch on COVID-19 threat in India ahead of Under-17 Women’s World Cup.

8.14 om: The Hyderabad Cricket Association offers setting up a quarantine centre at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in the city, PTI reports.

8.07 pm: Maharashtra’s first two patients have been discharged from the hospital after full recovery, ANI reports, quoting the state health department.

7.53 pm: Functioning of the Delhi High Court as well as all district courts in Delhi suspended till April 15, PTI reports.

7.52 pm: Nine more people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Kerala, taking the number of patients under treatment to 112, Chief Minister P Vijayan says. Twelve patients have been discharged so far, PTI reports.

7.50 pm: In Delhi, Shahdara sub-divisional magistrate orders all those who visited or were present at the mohalla clinic in Mohanpuri area of Maujpur between March 12 and March 18 to home-quarantine for 15 days. A patient who visited the clinic was confirmed to be infected with Covid-19.

Maujpur is one of the localities in North East Delhi where large-scale communal violence took place last month.

7.28 pm: More than 180 cases were filed and 5,103 people detained on Wednesday for violating government orders in Delhi, PTI reports, quoting police.

7.17 pm: Uttkarsh Chaturvedi, deputy news editor with ET Now, has allegedly been attacked by the police while reporting on the lockdown in Thane, PTI reports. Chaturvedi says the incident took place near Dahisar Check Post in western suburbs.

7.10 pm: The total number of cases in India has risen to 606, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. As many as 553 of these are active cases, 42 people have recovered, 10 have died and one has left the country.

7 pm: The Union government’s food grain stock will last for the next two years and states will not face any shortage, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Raosaheb Danve has said according to PTI.

6.54 pm: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says that the Group of Ministers chaired by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has reviewed current status and actions for management of Covid-19, PTI reports.

6.44 pm: The Sensex and Nifty have surged for the second session running. The BSE Sensex has risen by 6.98% on Wednesday, and the National Stock Exchange Nifty by 6.62%.

6.40 pm: China has downgraded the risk level of the coronavirus in its epicentre Wuhan from high to medium and resumed bus services within the city, after nine weeks of lockdown, PTI reports. However, the prolonged lockdown of Hubei’s capital Wuhan will end on April 8.

6.35 pm: Modi says people can use the helpline number 9013151515 to seek correct information about the novel coronavirus. This number can be accessed through WhatsApp.

6.31 pm: “For now, the difficulties will last for just 21 days,” Modi says. “However, if coronavirus does not stop spreading, the amount of damage that will be caused is unimaginable.”

6.28 pm: “When the country is faced with such a grave danger, the world is facing such a difficult time, it is deceiving the people to tell them that there will be no difficulties, that everything will be fine,” Modi says according to the BJP’s Twitter handle.

6.22 pm: The Uttarakhand Police say 51 FIRs have been registered and 335 persons arrested today, over charges of violation of the countrywide lockdown, ANI reports.

6.16 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says 35 people have so far been infected with the virus in the national Capital, ANI reports. As many as five people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 on Wednesday.

6.12 pm: The Gujarat Police have detained over 350 people in the last 24 hours for violating the lockdown, PTI reports. Those detained include people who violated home quarantine norms, Director General of Police Shivanand Jha says.

6.09 pm: “Today, the entire country is fighting against coronavirus, it will take 21 days,” Modi says according to News18. “Our effort is to win it in 21 days.”

6.04 pm: Southern Railway has extended cancellation of passenger train services and closure of ticket counters till April 14, in the wake of the 21-day lockdown, PTI reports. The lockdown is scheduled to end on April 14.

6.01 pm: The Centre has decided to allow its employees who were due to vacate their official flats to stay till May 31, in the wake of social distancing measures it has imposed, PTI reports.

5.55 pm: The police have registered 1,788 FIRs and booked 5,592 people in Uttar Pradesh for violating the lockdown, PTI reports.

5.50 pm: Iran President Hassan Rouhani has warned that his government is poised to introduce tough new measures to combat Covid-19, AFP reports. The toll in the West Asian country has crossed 2,000. Rouhani says Iran could impose restrictions on movement of people. “It may create problems for people’s travel plans and require that people return home early,” the president says.

So far, Iran has relied on making appeals to its citizens to avoid travel.

Iranian workers set up a makeshift hospital inside the Iran Mall, northwest of Tehran, on March 21. (Photo credit: AFP)

5.43 pm: “I appeal to all the citizens, if you notice any incident where professionals, such as doctors and nurses, are ill-treated then you should take an initiative to make such people feel better,” Modi says according to ANI.

5.40 pm: “I have told Home Ministry and DGPs to take strict action against those who are not supporting or not co-operating with doctors, nurses & other professionals who are serving us in this critical time,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi says addressing people in Varanasi via video conferencing.

5.35 pm: Chhattisgarh minister TS Singh Deo pitches for expanding testing criteria across India. In tweets, he says that the Union government dragged its feet on reviewing testing protocols.

“After @RahulGandhi ji repeatedly reminded PM @narendramodi ji of the criticality of Covid, I too had written to the Central Health Minister to review testing protocols which then were 3 per million compared to South Korea’s 4000 per million persons,” Deo tweets. “Feet were dragged. In Chhattisgarh, we finally decided on the 22nd to review testing norms to test asymptomatic foreign returned persons. The result has been that two such travellers have been tested and found to be positive. We must expand the testing criteria across India.”

5.31 pm: The head of the Netherlands’ National Institute of Health, Jaap van Dissel, has said that the rate of transmission of Covid-19 in the country has reduced, Reuters reports. In testimony before a parliamentary commission, Dissel has said the institute’s best estimate was that currently one infected person was infecting around one other person. This means that the exponential growth of the virus has stopped.

5.24 pm: The number of recorded coronavirus cases in Russia has reached 658 on Wednesday, Reuters reports. Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin has told President Vladimir Putin that the real scale of the problem in Moscow is much higher than official data shows. The number of cases in Russia have increased by 163 overnight, the biggest one day rise so far. Of the 658 cases so far, 410 are in Moscow itself.

5.14 pm: Passengers begin to arrive in China’s Hubei province as lockdown is slowly lifted:

5.04 pm: Spain’s coronavirus toll overtakes that of China, rising to 3,434 after 738 people died over the past 24 hours, the country’s government says.

4.55 pm: At a meeting between Maharashtra Industries Minister Subhash Desai and newspaper publishers and hawkers, it has been decided that newspapers will be published and distributed from April 1 in Mumbai, ANI reports. Currently, publishing and distribution of newspapers has been halted.

4.49 pm: The Uttar Pradesh government has banned the production, distribution and sale of pan masala in the entire state until further orders, ANI reports.

4.45 pm: Here are images of people practicing social distancing outside a grocery store in Andheri East in Mumbai:

4.40 pm: Union minister Prakash Javadekar says there is no need for people to panic as shops selling essentials and medicines will remain open throughout the 21-day lockdown, PTI reports. He adds that there are sufficient legal provisions available to deal with black marketeers and hoarders.

4.33 pm: The Bangladesh government has released Opposition leader Khaleda Zia from prison amid the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reports. The 74-year-old opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party chief is serving a 17-year prison term in two corruption cases since February 8, 2018. She has been released for six months.

4.28 pm: The Mumbai Police say they will make it easier for people to register complaints by landing at their doorstep. “Mumbaikars, @MumbaiPolice will be at your doorsteps when you are in need,” Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh tweets according to PTI. “You please just don’t step out if not necessary! #Dial100.”

4.20 pm: A journalist who attended the press conference addressed by former Chief Minister Kamal Nath before tendering his resignation has tested positive for Covid-19, The Indian Express reports. The journalist’s daughter had recently returned from London via Delhi. Her brother who accompanied her from Delhi to Bhopal has tested negative. However, the daughter has tested positive.

4.15 pm: Those transporting essential commodities and services need to carry identity cards and stick a banner on their vehicles with the name of goods and services they are ferrying, says Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh according to PTI.

4.07 pm: Prince Charles, the Queen’s son and the first in line to the British throne, tests positive, announces Buckingham Palace, according to CNN.

4.03 pm: Union minister Prakash Javadekar says 80 crore people below poverty line across the country will be given wheat at Rs 2 and rice at Rs 3 per kilogram for the next three months, reports News18. Contractual labourers will be given their salaries, he adds.

3.57 pm: Five more people, including four Indonesians, test positive in Tamil Nadu, says state health minister. The total number of infected people in the state is now 23, reports PTI.

3.54 pm: The Ministry of Home Affairs postpones the first phase of Census 2021 and the updation of National Population Register until further orders. The Census exercise was scheduled to be carried out from April 1 to September 30. The National Population Register – a list of “usual residents” – was scheduled to be updated simultaneously with the house-listing phase of the Census exercise.

Also read

Withdraw NPR, repeal NRC: With coronavirus looming, Modi needs to assure protestors they can go home

3.50 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says the administration must ensure that there is no scarcity of food. “All police stations will take responsibility to deliver food at doorsteps and it will be monitored by district magistrates and police superintendents,” she adds.

3.39 pm: Group of Ministers meeting over COVID-19 underway at Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in New Delhi.

3.38 pm: Iran reports 143 new deaths, taking the toll to 2,077, reports AFP.

3.35 pm: Total cases in Madhya Pradesh rises to 15 as one more person found infected, Bhopal’s chief medical and health officer Sudhir Deharia tells PTI.

3.18 pm: Tamil Nadu chief minister orders the School Education Department to promote all Class 1 to Class 9 students as exams cannot be held, reports PTI.

3.09 pm: The Election Commission of India allows using its indelible ink on people for stamping for home quarantine by health authorities, reports ANI.

3.06 pm: Srinagar District Magistrate Shahid Chaudhary says home delivery of ration to 1.60 lakh families will start from March 28 under strict safety-protocol, reports ANI.

3.05 pm: A chart of new cases in India

3.02 pm: A study by the Indian Council of Medical Research has warned that community transmission may take anywhere between 20 days and a few months to be visible, reports News18. Every infected Indian will pass on the virus to 1.5 persons in the best-case scenario and four persons in the worst-case scenario.

2.58 pm: Italy has increased punishments for violating restrictions, reports CNN. Apart from penalising people with fines, the country has decided to sentence anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus and breaks quarantine to five-year jail.

2.54 pm: Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain says permission has been granted to all manufacturers of drugs and cosmetics in the national Capital to manufacture ethanol-based hand sanitisers till June 30, reports PTI.

2.52 pm: The chart below shows how many people have been tested in India.

2.49 pm: Mumbai Police announce a helpline to help grievance related to the movement of essential services, reports News18.

2.48 pm: The Bihar government has decided to give Rs 1,000 each to every family that holds a ration card, says the chief minister’s office.

2.46 pm: Delhi Police Public Relations Officer MS Randhawa tells ANI he held a meeting with e-commerce website representatives. “We have issued passes to them and assured that their delivery agents will be helped by the police. We have set up a platform for e-commerce websites where they can share with us the problems they are facing, so we can solve them.”

2.45 pm: A chart of the confirmed cases in India as of Wednesday morning.

2.36 pm: Pakistan suspends all domestic flight operations until April 2 as the country’s tally of cases rose to 1,000 with seven deaths, reports PTI.

2.31 pm: The Delhi High Court asks the External Affairs Ministry to ensure welfare and safety of Indian students stranded at Almaty airport in Kazakhstan, reports PTI.

2.20 pm: People in Lucknow practice social distancing at markets.

2.19 pm: US President Donald Trump has requested novel coronavirus test kits from South Korea, says Moon Jae-in, according to AFP.

2.15 pm: South Africa reports 155 new confirmed cases, taking the overall count to 709, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize tells SABC. The country has ordered a 21-day lockdown from Thursday midnight.

2.12 pm: Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel issues an over two-month extension on visas to foreign nationals who were stranded in the UK, reports PTI.

2.10 pm: The Delhi government amends its prison rules to introduce a provision for “emergency parole” for inmates, reports Bar and Bench. Emergency parole may be granted for up to eight weeks in one spell, in addition to the regular parole.

Also read

Covid-19: SC asks states to consider releasing prisoners on parole, bail to decongest jails

2.03 pm: The Ordnance Factory Board designates 285 beds for isolation wards, reports ANI.

1.58 pm: Parliamentarians can now use Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme fund for medical testing and other facilities required to detect and contain spread of the coronavirus, reports PTI.

1.52 pm: Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal says all the government offices, except those providing essential services, will be closed till April 14 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

1.48 pm: The Army Headquarters will be closed today because of the coronavirus lockdown, reports ANI. From Thursday, only 5 to 10% of essential staff will work for meeting the operational requirements.

1.44 pm: London Mayor Sadiq Khan urges people to leave their homes as infrequently as possible to tackle the coronavirus crisis. “Only leave the house to: Shop for necessities, fulfil a medical need exercise only once a day travel to and from work only if absolutely necessary,” he says in a tweet.

1.40 pm: Bangladesh confirms fifth death from the coronavirus, reports PTI. However, no new positive cases were reported in the last 24 hours as the country suspended all domestic flights, trains and public transport to fight the epidemic.

1.37 pm: South Korea reports 100 new coronavirus cases, taking its total infections to 9,137, according to Reuters. Passengers arriving from the United States will now need to undergo a 14-day quarantine starting from Friday.

1.33 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray urges people to listen to the home minister. “The state is closely watching,” he says. “Do not worry essential items for humans and animals, medicines, clinics for humans as well as animals these will stay open. We won’t let them shut down. I am in touch with industrialists and businessmen. They are helping out. I also appeal to those who have closed their factories and offices not to stop the salaries of their employees.”

1.29 pm: Libya confirms its first case of the coronavirus, reports Reuters. The National Centre for Disease Control, which operates in areas controlled by both major sides in the Libyan conflict, has not given further details in its statement on the coronavirus case. However, doctors said the patient was in a hospital in Tripoli.

1.27 pm: Terrence McNally, one of America’s great playwrights, died of complications related to the coronavirus, reports AP. He was 81.

1.23 pm: China reports a drop in new confirmed coronavirus cases after imported infections fell and no locally transmitted infections were reported, including in central Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak in China. The country is now ramping up quarantine and screening rules for all international arrivals due to the risks from imported cases, according to Reuters.

1.20 pm: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat announces in the state Assembly that health officials, police personnel and media persons will be given insurance due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports ANI.

1.12 pm: “It is a war-like situation so I have compared this coronavirus with war, when we are not aware of the enemy then the enemy will attack us, so we have to be aware as we cannot see this enemy,” says Uddhav Thackeray.

1.09 pm: Thackeray assures people that the state government has sufficient stock of essential commodities like vegetables, rice and other items of daily use, reports ANI. He says there is no need to worry, adding that all shops selling essential items are open too.

1.08 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray speaks about the coronavirus situation in the state.

1 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party President Mayawati urges the Centre and all state governments to provide essential commodities to the poor for free during the 21-day total lockdown ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the spread of Covid-19. “In view of the directions issued by the prime minister yesterday to combat coronavirus, it is my appeal to all the governments to provide essential commodities to the poor and labourers either free of cost or at low prices,” she tweets.

12.52 pm: A Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the first day of the 21-day nationwide lockdown shows leaders practicing social distancing to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, reports ANI.

12.50 pm: A pastor with travel history to the Netherlands tests positive for Covid-19 in Mizoram, reports PTI.

12.42 pm: The United Nations expresses solidarity with India and says it supports Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision of imposing a 21-day countrywide lockdown to contain the rapid spread of the coronavirus, reports PTI.

12.40 pm: Chattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel announces free distribution of rice to poor families from the month of April to May as part of the state’s welfare scheme during the nationwide lockdown to control the coronavirus spread, reports News18.

12.36 pm: After IndiGo, budget-carrier GoAir Chief Executive Officer Vinay Dube says all employees will have pay cuts in March. “We are left with no choice due to travel restrictions over coronavirus,” Dube adds.

12.32 pm: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urges people to support the 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop the coronavirus spread. “It is an extremely challenging race against time to stop Covid-19,” he tweets. “As the pandemic is spreading across the world, it is time to be together as a nation at this hour of crisis and support the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

12.29 pm: The Puducherry government has cancelled examinations and will promote Class 1 to 12th students due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports ANI.

12.25 pm: Four new coronavirus cases have been reported in Rajasthan, according to ANI. Two of the four positive persons are members of the medical staff in Bhilwara. Total number of cases in the state is 36 now.

Also read: Nearly half of Rajasthan’s total coronavirus cases reported from Bhilwara city

12.20 pm: There are 18,919 virus-linked deaths globally and the number of confirmed cases is 4,23,363, according to Johns Hopkins university’s update.

12.18 pm: The Press Council of India advises all states to take necessary measures to ensure the smooth functioning of media amid the nationwide lockdown to tackle the coronavirus spread, reports PTI.

12.15 pm: India has capacity of 37,618 isolation beds, 9,512 ICU beds and 8,432 ventilators as on March 24, according to health ministry data. “We will rapidly need to upgrade its health infrastructure if the situation worsens as cases surge in a short time,” Tarun Bhatnagar, member of the National Task Force for tackling Covid-19, tells BusinessLine.

12.12 pm: “Stepping out in such large numbers to buy grocery items defeats the purpose of a lockdown,” says Kejriwal. He reiterates that government will ensure supply of essential supplies.

12.10 pm: Arvind Kejriwal says people can use the helpline number 011-22459536 for reporting against any form of inconvenience caused by the police.

12.09 pm: “Once e-passes are issued, one can open shop related to essential commodities,” says Delhi chief minister. “A helpline number will be activated for that in few hours.”

12.08 pm: Arvind Kejriwal says those providing essential services and don’t have identity cards will be given e-passes. Meanwhile, Baijal says the state-level disaster management committee will monitor the working of those engaged in providing essential services.

12.07 pm: Anil Baijal says the authorities will ensure strict implementation of lockdown in Delhi.

12.05 pm: Kejriwal says it is the government’s responsibility to make essential items available during the lockdown. “Please stop panic buying,” he adds.

12.02 pm: “Please refrain from stepping out of your homes,” says Arvind Kejriwal.

12 pm: Delhi Chief Minister urges people not to panic because of the lockdown. “All the essential services are available, shops will be open,” he says.

11.55 am: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addresses media with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal regarding the coronavirus situation.

11.52 am: The Haryana government has deputed 22 officials, including 19 IAS officers, for planning, coordination and monitoring activities to contain the spread of the coronavirus, reports PTI.

11.50 am: The Uttar Pradesh government announces an additional Rs 50 crore allocation for state health department to tackle the coronavirus epidemic, reports ANI.

Also read: Adityanath attends Ayodhya ritual hours after PM Modi urges everyone to stay indoors

11.40 am: The White House and Senate leaders in US have struck a major deal over a $2-trillion package to provide a jolt to an economy struggling through the coronavirus pandemic.

11.35 am: The latest samples of two coronavirus patients, taken after 14 days in isolation at a hospital in Noida, have tested negative, reports PTI. Officials say they could be discharged if the same result is seen in the final test to be done in two days.

11.27 am: Indians crowded grocery stores and chemist shops on Wednesday to buy essential items after Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a total lockdown for three weeks to fight a coronavirus pandemic, one of the toughest such measures worldwide.

Also read: Supply of essential items hit as confusion about exemptions prevail

11.22 am: The courts across Tamil Nadu will remain shut for three weeks following nationwide lockdown, reports The Hindu. Urgent cases alone would be taken up for hearing either through video conference or in person after the lawyers and litigants make a mention to the court officials concerned.

11.20 am: Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg says it is “extremely likely” she has had the Covid-19 virus and urged other young people to stay at home too if even just a little unwell, to help stop the coronavirus. Thunberg says on Instagram that she had now recovered from symptoms milder than her latest cold, and may not have suspected COVID-19 had it not been for her father, who had travelled with her to Europe, developing more severe symptoms.

View this post on Instagram

The last two weeks I’ve stayed inside. When I returned from my trip around Central Europe I isolated myself (in a borrowed apartment away from my mother and sister) since the number of cases of COVID-19 (in Germany for instance) were similar to Italy in the beginning. Around ten days ago I started feeling some symptoms, exactly the same time as my father - who traveled with me from Brussels. I was feeling tired, had shivers, a sore throat and coughed. My dad experienced the same symptoms, but much more intense and with a fever. In Sweden you can not test yourself for COVID-19 unless you’re in need of emergent medical treatment. Everyone feeling ill are told to stay at home and isolate themselves. I have therefore not been tested for COVID-19, but it’s extremely likely that I’ve had it, given the combined symptoms and circumstances. Now I’ve basically recovered, but - AND THIS IS THE BOTTOM LINE: I almost didn’t feel ill. My last cold was much worse than this! Had it not been for someone else having the virus simultainously I might not even have suspected anything. Then I would just have thought I was feeling unusually tired with a bit of a cough. And this it what makes it so much more dangerous. Many (especially young people) might not notice any symptoms at all, or very mild symptoms. Then they don’t know they have the virus and can pass it on to people in risk groups. We who don’t belong to a risk group have an enormous responsibility, our actions can be the difference between life and death for many others. Please keep that in mind, follow the advice from experts and your local authorities and #StayAtHome to slow the spread of the virus. And remember to always take care of each other and help those in need. #COVID #flattenthecurve

A post shared by Greta Thunberg (@gretathunberg) on

11.15 am: Airports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi announce that they will suspend all passenger flights on Thursday for two weeks, with the exception of evacuation flights, to contain the spread of the coronavirus, reports Reuters.

11.11 am: Political strategist Prashant Kishor says the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi “might [be] a bit too long”. “Decision to lockdown India may be right but 21 days might [be] a bit too long,” he tweets. “But then this is the price one pays for being behind the curve. With the shaky preparedness to deal with the Covid crisis and very little to safeguard the poor, we could be staring at some tough days ahead.”

11.07 am: Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan says the government is monitoring the availability of essential commodities in the market amid nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of the coronavirus. “In view of situation emerging from the threat of Covid19 in India, the government is keeping an eye on availability of all essential commodities in the market,” Paswan tweets. “I appeal to all manufacturers and traders to avoid from profiteering in this situation.”

11.03 am: Alaska confirms its first death from the coronavirus, reports AP. Anne Zink, the state’s chief medical officer, said the elderly person in a high risk group contracted the virus and died in Washington state.

11 am: Pakistan will suspend all domestic flights from Thursday until April 2 to contain the spread of Covid-19, reports CNN. Passenger train services will also be suspended immediately until March 31.

Pakistan has reported 972 cases and seven deaths from the coronavirus, according to the country’s health ministry.

10.57 am: Maharashtra reports five new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of cases in the state to 112, according to PTI. The latest cases are from Sangli district, where five members of a family in Islampur tested positive, say officials.

10.52 am: As the the toll for the coronavirus continues to surge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a 21-day lockdown for the entire country, stating that it was the only way to break the chain of infection. The lockdown will be in effect till April 14.

The dramatic change in policy has raised some eyebrows, not least because little thought seems to have gone into alleviating the economic distress that comes with a near nationwide shutdown, even though the likelihood of getting to one should have been evident from early March. Read more here.

10.50 am: World-famous singer and saxophonist Manu Dibango has died from coronavirus infection at the age of 86 in France, reports AFP. “It is with deep sadness that we announce the loss of Manu Dibango, our Papy Groove, who passed away on March 24, 2020, at 86 years old, further to Covid 19,” read a statement on Dibango’s Facebook page.

10.42 am: The government has banned export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine with immediate effect to ensure sufficient availability of the medicine in the domestic market, reports PTI.

Indian Council of Medical Research had on Monday recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medicine for those who face a high risk of coronavirus infection, provided they do not have any symptoms of the disease.

Also read: A doctor explains why malaria drugs can’t protect you from Covid-19

10.40 am: The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked private security agencies to not lay off security guards as malls, shops and other establishments are shut. “This is the time for the private security industry to adopt a humane approach and protect its staff and members from layoffs,” it says in an order.

10.33 am: The West Bengal government has started discharging patients from a state-run hospital and stopped admitting new ones to the institute to convert the entire facility into an isolation and treatment centre for people suspected to be infected with coronavirus, reports PTI.

10.30 am: Gujarat Principal Secretary (Health) Jayanti Ravi says three positive cases have been reported in the state, taking the total number to 38, reports ANI. She also says FIR has been registered against 147 people for breaking home quarantine.

10.29 am: Three new cases of Covid-19 has been reported in Telangana, taking the total number of people infected with the virus in the state to 39, reports PTI, citing a bulletin issued by the state government late Tuesday night. None of the three patients had recent history of travel abroad.

10.25 am: The Union Home Ministry asks state governments to check the spread of rumours about shortage of food and other essential commodities, reports PTI. In a communication to chief secretaries and director general of police of all states, the ministry also directs them to take action to allay apprehensions and maintain peace and tranquillity.

10.16 am: Walmart Inc’s Flipkart has temporarily suspended services, says a notice on the Indian e-commerce firm’s website. India began a 21-day lockdown to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Flipkart, whose services include grocery deliveries, does not mention how long the suspension would last. “Our promise is that we will be back to serve you, as soon as possible,” the notice says.

10.10 am: A 33-year-old resident of Pilibhit has tested positive for the coronavirus, reports ANI. Doctor Sudhir Singh at Lucknow’s King George’s Medical University Hospital says the patient does not have any travel history and that it is a confirmed case of contact transmission.

10 am: Five persons admitted in different hospitals of Indore have tested positive for the coronavirus, taking the number of COVID-19 cases in Madhya Pradesh to 14, reports PTI. The five patients include a woman from neighbouring Ujjain while others are residents of Indore, says Chief Medical and Health Officer Anasuya Gawli.

9.55 am: The toll in India now stands at nine. Of these, one death each has been reported from Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab and West Bengal. Two deaths have been reported from Maharashtra. However, the health ministry is yet to confirm the Tamil Nadu patient’s death.

9.52 am: The health ministry says the second death which was reported from Delhi on Tuesday is Covid-19 negative.

9.50 am: The number of coronavirus cases in India stands at 562 now, according to the latest data from Union Health Ministry. This includes 41 people who have been cured and nine deaths.

9.49 am: As public transport is suspended, many patients with life-threatening diseases have been left stranded. Cancer and kidney patients worry about 21-day lockdown and ask ‘How do I reach a hospital?’ Read more here.

9.45 am: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will hold a meeting with Lieutenant Governor
Anil Baijal at 11 am to discuss the coronavirus outbreak, reports ANI.

9.30 am: Sensex jumps 428.41 points to 27,102.44 in opening session and Nifty rises 84.35 points to 7,885.40 as India begins 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

9.25 am: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath participates in an early morning ritual to shift the idol of Lord Ram from a tin shed inside the Ram Janmabhoomi to a temporary structure made of fibre, reports ANI. This comes hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

8.10 am: A flight carrying 227 Indian passengers from Tehran in Iran landed at the Delhi airport on Wednesday morning, ANI reports.

7.50 am: All domestic flights will be suspended from today.

7.40 am: Coronavirus fears are making Indians boycott, evict and threaten their neighbours. Even doctors have not been spared. Experts warn such harassment would hurt the war on Covid-19. Read more here.

7.20 am: Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah says the Narendra Modi government has miserably failed in tackling the coronavirus. “They are not properly managing the crisis,” he adds.

7.18 am: The coronavirus has killed another 240 people in France on Tuesday, bringing the death count in the country from the pandemic to 1,100, reports AFP.

7.15 am: Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao says a situation may arise where the state government will have to impose 24-hour curfew and issue shoot-at-sight orders if people do not follow the coronavirus lockdown, reports ANI.

7.10 am: A 54-year-old Covid-19 patient died at a hospital in Madurai in the early hours of Wednesday. Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijayabaskar said the man had a medical history of prolonged illness with “uncontrolled diabetes”. The toll in India rises to 11.

“Despite our best efforts, the COVID-19 positive patient at MDU, Rajaji Hospital, passed away... he had medical history of prolonged illness with steroid dependent COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], uncontrolled diabetes with hypertension,” the health minister says in a tweet.

Here are the main updates from Tuesday:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown for the entire country to contain the spread of the coronavirus, stating that it was the only way to break the chain of infection. The lockdown will be in effect till April 14. 
  • Essential services such as grocery and ration shops, milk stores and chemist shops will remain open during the 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Ministry of Home Affairs said on Tuesday.
  • The number of positive Covid-19 cases in India rose to 536, according to the Indian Council for Medical Research – the nodal health body for testing cases in the country.
  • The International Olympic Committee accepted Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposal of a one-year postponement for the Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is the first time in history that the Summer Games will be postponed during peacetime.  
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that the deadline for filing income tax returns for 2018-’19 was being extended to June 30 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. “We are close to announcing an economic package, which will be announced sooner or later,” Sitharaman said.
  • Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday condemned the ostracism of doctors and paramedics from residential colonies in various cities over fears of contracting the novel coronavirus. Vardhan said he was “deeply anguished” by the news. 
  • The Election Commission of India deferred Rajya Sabha polls. The Election Commission said that the “unforeseen” situation arising out of the outbreak calls for avoiding any kind of gathering.
  • Meanwhile, two health experts said they believed that community transmission of Covid-19 was happening in India, and that the country needed to test more patients to ascertain this. 
  • More than one lakh people across the world have now recovered from Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic in December, data from the Johns Hopkins University – which is tracking cases reported by the World Health Organization and additional sources – shows.