India on Thursday reported seven more deaths due to Covid-19 infection, taking the toll to 16. The number of patients rose to 694, which includes those who have recovered. The jump of 88 new cases since Wednesday was the highest in a single day so far.
Hours earlier, the Health Ministry had said the rate of growth in the number of cases had decreased, but it was just an initial trend and not time to relax yet.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a Rs 1.7-lakh-crore economic package to help tide over the situation during the coronavirus outbreak. The measures include additional food entitlements for 80 crore people and cash transfers to farmers, among other things.
As India entered the second day of its 21-day nationwide shutdown, authorities extended the ban on all international flights till April 14. The flights were earlier banned till March 31.
The pandemic has infected 4,70,973 people globally, and killed 21,276 people across 173 countries or territories, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University. As many as 1,14,012 people have recovered.
The national helpline number for the coronavirus is 011-23978046, and a toll-free number 1075. Here are the helpline numbers for states and the Union Territories: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/coronvavirushelplinenumber.pdf
Here are the day’s updates:
10.30 pm: Here’s a roundup of the day’s updates:
9.50 pm: A 65-year-old woman who had tested positive for Covid-19 has died in Mumbai, PTI reports. This takes the toll in Maharashtra to five. However, the Centre has confirmed only three deaths in the state so far.
9.28 pm: Maharashtra government decides to release around 11,000 prisoners, whose jail term is less than seven years, on parole, PTI reports.
9.25 pm: At the G20 summit, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warns that the world is not winning the war against Covid-19 and needs a war-time plan to fight it.
“We are at war with a virus and not winning it,” he says. “It took the world three months to reach 1,00,000 confirmed cases of infection. The next 1,00,000 happened in just 12 days. The third took four days. The fourth, just one and a half.”
8.58 pm: Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur says the curfew in the state will be relaxed for five hours every day, PTI reports.
8.53 pm: The number of cases confirmed by India on Thursday is its highest in a single day so far.
8.51 pm: In a joint statement, G20 nations say they will inject $5 trillion into the global economy, AFP reports. They pledge a “united front” against the coronavirus threat.
8.11 pm: The Health Ministry has confirmed three more deaths, taking the toll to 16. The number of patients so far has increased to 694. Of these, 633 are active cases, 44 have recovered and one has left the country.
8.01 pm: Prime Minister Modi says the financial aid announced earlier in the day would go a long way in ensuring food and livelihood security.
8 pm: A 20-year-old man from Patna has been confirmed to be infected with Covid-19 in Bihar, ANI reports.
7.35 pm: A 21-year-old coronavirus positive patient escaped from a quarantine facility in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan, only to be brought back by authorities, PTI reports. The patient had returned from Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh on February 29 and was sent to the quarantine facility on March 23, Jhunjhunu Chief Medical and Health Officer Chhote Lal said.
7.29 pm: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has extended the ban on all international flights till April 14, the last day of the lockdown, PTI reports. On March 19, the DGCA had banned international flights till March 31.
“In continuation of circular-II dated 19.3.2020 issued on the subject cited-above, it has been decided that all scheduled international commercial passenger services shall remain closed till 1830 hrs GMT (0000 hrs of Indian Standard Time) of April 14, 2020,” the aviation regulator,” the aviation regulator says. “However, this restriction will not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA.”
7.23 pm: The Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati was carrying out full-fledged construction work on its campus defying the lockdown, PTI reports. Subsequently, the police arrived and stopped the work.
7.14 pm: Nagpur’s first Covid-19 patient has been discharged from Indira Gandhi Medical College Hospital after his second sample tested negative, says hospital dean Ajay Keoliya according to ANI.
7.12 pm: The Central Reserve Police Force has contributed Rs 33.81 crore fund, drawn from one-day salary of its troops, to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, to combat coronavirus, PTI reports.
7.10 pm: Karnataka Congress President DK Shivakumar claims that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers are being allowed to collect donations and distribute food materials during the lockdown, while everyone else is being made to sit at home, PTI reports. He also demands that the government convene a meeting of all Opposition parties to discuss steps to fight Covid-19.
7.08 pm: The police in Ranbir Singh Pura city in Jammu are stamping people with “corona lockdown violator”, ANI reports. “We are using a permanent ink that takes around 15 days to erase,” police officer Shabir Khan says.
7 pm: Authorities in Punjab and Chandigarh have received frivolous requests for curfew passes, PTI reports. This includes requests for passes for walking dogs, calling the barber for a haircut, etc.
“People have been coming up with funny requests for curfew passes,” a senior official of the Chandigarh administration says. “One such request was from a Chandigarh resident, living in a flat, who sought a pass for taking the dog outside. Another request was for calling a barber at home for a haircut because shops are closed.”
6.52 pm: As many as 1,600 wholesale fruit and vegetable mandis have started functioning smoothly and 300 more will operate from Friday, a senior agriculture ministry official tells reporters in New Delhi according to PTI. “There were initial resistance but we have persuaded state governments and APMC board to keep mandis open,” he adds.
6.49 pm: The Singapore government has unveiled a package of S$48 billion to fight the epidemic in the country, Channel News Asia reports. Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat says the Singaporean economy could be seriously affected by the global crisis.
6.44 pm: China is set to drastically cut its international flight routes, capping the number at just one route a week to each country, AFP reports quoting the civil aviation ministry. Airlines flying into China will face the same restrictions.
6.40 pm: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan says Kannur accounted for the highest number cases on Thursday with nine, while three cases each were from Kasaragod and Malappuram districts, PTI reports. As many as 1.20 lakh people in the state are under observation, Vijayan adds.
6.37 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has sought immediate financial assistance from the Centre to clear all the pending liabilities under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, PTI reports. Singh tells Union Minister of Rural Development and Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar that as of March 24, wage liabilities of Rs 84 crore are pending for approximately 1.30 lakh workers in the state.
6.21 pm: Kerala reports 19 fresh cases of coronavirus, says Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, according to PTI. The total number of people under treatment is now 126.
6.20 pm: The BJP says it is putting in place a mechanism to link various community kitchens, which can serve a minimum of 1,000 people per day, to ensure food to the urban poor, migrant workers and others working in the unorganised sector, PTI reports. BJP National President Jagat Prakash Nadda has held a meeting via videoconferencing with all state chiefs of the party to scale up the programme to make available food to the poor.
6.12 pm: Egyptian authorities have forced a Guardian journalist to leave the country after she reported on a scientific study that said that Egypt is likely to have many more cases of the coronavirus than officially reported, according to The Guardian. Ruth Michaelson has lived in and reported from Egypt since 2014.
6.05 pm: Vietnam has banned gatherings of 20 or more people, government-run VGP News reports. The restrictions will be in place for two weeks. The government has also ordered temporary closure of such services like massage parlors, tourist sites, cinemas and restaurants. As many as 148 infections have been reported in Vietnam, according to the official estimates.
6.02 pm: Bombay High Court says all interim orders passed by courts across Maharashtra will continue to be in force till April 30, PTI reports.
5.58 pm: Two more test positive for coronavirus in Kashmir, PTI reports.
5.55 pm: Over 200 Australians are stranded on the Costa Victoria cruise ship, which has docked at the Italian city of Civitavecchia, The West Australian reports. Of these, one person has tested positive for Covid-19. The ship has over 700 passengers and a similar number of crew.
5.50 pm: Iran has banned intercity travel in an attempt to stem the pandemic, BBC reports. Government spokesperson Ali Rabiei has lamented that some people had ignored advice and travelled during the Nowruz new year holidays. The toll in Iran is over 2,000, but the government has not yet locked down the country.
5.47 pm: West Bengal Transport Secretary NS Nigam claims that a truck carrying medical equipment, including ventilators, meant for the West Bengal Health Services has been detained by authorities at Nagpur, PTI reports. The West Bengal government has written to the Maharashtra transport secretary seeking immediate release of the vehicle.
5.44 pm: Rupee closes 78 paise higher at 75.16 per United States dollar after government announces Rs 1.7 lakh crore package to fight Covid-19.
5.42 pm: Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur is developing portable ventilators which will be significantly cheaper than the ones available in the market, PTI reports. Two graduates from the institute – Nikhil Kurule and Harshit Rathore – who are running a start up called “Nocca Robotics” incubated at IIT Kanpur, have developed a prototype for the portable ventilator.
5.35 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi calls government’s relief package a “step in the right direction”. “India owes a debt to its farmers, daily wage earners, labourers, women & the elderly who are bearing the brunt of the ongoing lockdown,” Gandhi tweets.
5.33 pm: The Haryana Police stalled preparations for a wedding ceremony in Fatehabad, citing violation of lockdown rules, ANI reports. “We have registered a report on this matter and are verifying facts,” Fatehabad Deputy Commissioner of Police Subhash Chandra says.
5.29 pm: Odisha will set up two large hospitals with 1,000 beds each, says Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik according to ANI.
5.22 pm: Here is a comparison of tests per million population, between India and other countries:
5.14 pm: Andaman and Nicobar Islands Chief Secretary Chetan Sanghi says one islander has tested positive for the coronavirus. Sanghi says the man returned on a Vistara flight from Chennai on March 24, and added that the administration is taking follow-up action as per protocol.
5.10 pm: World Health Organization Europe says that there are encouraging signs that the rate of infection on the continent is on the wane, AFP reports. “While the situation remains very serious, we are starting to see some encouraging signs,” WHO Regional Director (Europe) Hans Kluge says at a press conference.
4.56 pm: A video of Rajasthan Police punishing people in Pratapgarh for allegedly violating lockdown orders:
4.53 pm: The Indian embassy in the Philippines says that hundreds of Indian students who are stranded in that country can fly back to India when the temporary travel ban is lifted, PTI reports. “Embassy is in regular contact with students in Perpetual Help,” the embassy says in a tweet. “Shops & essential stores in area open. Indian restaurants are ready to deliver. 16,000 Indian students in Philippines are advised- can travel to India when temporary ban is lifted. Emergency no. 09477836524.”
4.48 pm: Maulana Mohamed Khalid Hameed, the chief mufti of Aligarh, has issued an edict to all mutawallis (caretakers) and imams of all mosques in the Uttar Pradesh district to not offer the daily congregational prayers in mosques, PTI reports.
4.44 pm: The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kolkata has asked all churches under its order to suspend public gatherings during religious services till the lockdown is lifted, PTI reports. In a circular issued recently, Archbishop Thomas D’Souza asked priests of 65 city churches, to put on hold all public gatherings during religious services like Friday prayers, held every week in the run-up to Easter.
4.36 pm: There is still no hard evidence to say there has been community transmission of coronavirus in India, the health ministry says.
4.32 pm: The health ministry debunks an estimate by the University of Michigan which says that lakhs of people will be infected in India by May. The ministry says sometimes such estimates are made randomly in the absence of data.
4.22 pm: Another health ministry official recommends that even within the family, people observe around three feet of distance from each other.
4.18 pm: Another health ministry official says that the government is trying to make more and more people aware about the necessity for social distancing. She adds that people should not think that there will be any shortage of essential commodities.
4.16 pm: Joint Health Secretary Lav Agarwal says during the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare briefing that though the number of cases being detected are increasing, the rate of this increase is either stable or declining. However, he hastens to add that this is only an initial trend.
4.10 pm: Government of India allows doorstep delivery of medicines/drugs to people in view of the coronavirus pandemic, ANI reports.
4.07 pm: The Press Information Bureau in Maharashtra has adopted a unique way of spreading awareness.
3.53 pm: A chart of testing done in India so far.
3.50 pm: Iran’s toll has reached 2,234 as the country reports 157 new deaths, according to AFP.
3.48 pm: A chart showing the cumulative figure.
3.46 pm: In a letter to 18 chief ministers, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee asks them to provide basic amenities to those from her state who are stuck in various parts of the country, reports ANI.
3.45 pm: Goa government has asked private sector to release full salaries for March to enable staff to buy essentials during lockdown, reports PTI.
3.44 pm: A chart of the new cases reported today.
3.39 pm: Government gives permission to distilleries and sugar mills to manufacture hand sanitisers in bulk, reports PTI.
3.37 pm: Srinagar district magistrate orders closure of all places of worship.
3.27 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi says the government announcement of financial packages today was the “first step in the right direction”. “India owes a debt to its farmers, daily wage earners, labourers, women & the elderly who are bearing the brunt of the ongoing lockdown,” he tweets.
3.19 pm: Dr Kafeel Khan, who has been in jail since February after being charged under the National Security Act, offers his help to Prime Minister Modi during the coronavirus outbreak. Khan writes a letter to Modi offering suggestions on how to tackle the crisis and asks that he be released so that he can help as well.
“I propose that we should increase rapid testing strength (1 in each district level), opening up of new ICUs (100s in each district), isolation wards (1000s in each district), extensive training of doctors/paramedics/support group including AYUSH and private sectors, curb on rumours, avoid unscientific views and mobilise all our resources as soon as possible,” he suggests.
3.07 pm: Union Minister of Food and Public Distribution Ram Vilas Paswan says there are enough reserves of foodgrain to feed people during the nationwide lockdown, PTI reports.
3 pm: Officials tell PTI that Noida authorities are allowing delivery staff to operate in the district. Staff of online services Zomato, Flipkart, Amazon, 24Seven, BlueDart, DTDC, Wow Express, Swiggy, Grofers, BigBasket, Milkbasket, Dunzo, Big Bazaar, Snapdeal, Licious, Medlife, PharmEasy, Urban Clap, Ninja Kart, Honasa Consumer and Healthians Diagnostic are allowed to move around with their ID cards, officials claim.
According to the district magistrates orders, other services allowed to operate without any pass are Delhivery, Nutrimoo Milk Dairy, More Retail Ltd, Easy Day, Jabong, Myntra, Spencer’s, Reliance Fresh, Jubilant Food works (Dominos Pizza), Food Panda, Faasos, Pizza Hut, Uber Eats, Needs Supermarket, 1mg, Dr Lal Path Labs, Max Path and Satva Cart, PTI reports.
This comes amid multiple reports of shortages of essential goods in Gautam Buddh Nagar since the lockdown was announced on Tuesday evening. Besides the police, many security personnel employed by Residents’ Welfare Associations across Noida have also not allowed delivery staff and employees working at shops selling essential items to enter residential sectors.
2.50 pm: There are 182 new cases of Covid-19 in Russia, taking the country’s total to 840, reports RT.
2.49 pm: The king and queen of Malaysia have been quarantined after seven of their staffers tested positive for coronavirus.
2.43 pm: The Jharkhand government is facilitating home delivery of essential items during the lockdown, The Times of India reports. Chief Minister Hemant Soren has tweeted a list of shops and supermarkets that will deliver items to people’s homes.
2.37 pm: Telangana extends the lockdown by two days to April 16, reports The News Minute.
2.31 pm: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar says the state will bear the expenses of migrant workers stranded in other states.
2.27 pm: Three more people test positive for the virus in Noida, reports PTI. This takes the number of cases in Noida to 14.
District Magistrate BN Singh says the administration has sealed the residential societies of the three infected people for 48 hours during which sanitisation work will be carried out. A hotel at which a British traveller stayed, who might have passed on the virus to a family of three, is also being sanitised and disinfected, Singh says.
2.15 pm: The Dalai Lama says Modi’s measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus will be effective, reports PTI.
2.13 pm: There are three more cases of the virus in Telangana, while one person with the infection has recovered. The number of Covid-19 cases in the state is now 43, ANI quotes the Telangana health department as saying.
2.07 pm: When asked if there will be more financial packages announced, Sitharaman says, #Live | “We have responded within 36 hours of lockdown. Our top priority is to help the poorest of the poor.”
2.04 pm: The cash transfers will begin from April 1, while the Rs 1.7 lakh crore economic package will come into effect immediately.
2 pm: Sitharaman says Centre will also request state governments to use district mineral funds to augment medical testing and screening of the coronavirus.
1.56 pm: For the organised sector, provident fund scheme regulations will be amended to allow non-refundable advance of 75% of amount in account or 3 months of wages – whichever is lower, says Sitharaman.
1.53 pm: The finance minister says collateral-free loan has been doubled to Rs 20 lakh for 63 lakh women self-help groups, reports PTI. This decision will impact seven crore households.
1.50 pm: Sitharaman also says government will pay EPF contribution for employer and employee for 3 months. She say this is for those establishments which have upto 100 employees and 90% employees earn less than Rs 15,000 per month.
1.49 pm: “Widows, senior citizens and differently abled people to receive additional one time amount of Rs 1000, to benefit 3 crore people,” Sitharaman adds.
1.46 pm: Nirmala Sitharaman says Ujjawala scheme will provide free cylinders for three months, which will benefit nearly 8.3 crore below poverty line families.
1.44 pm: Women Jan Dhan account holders will be getting ex-gratia amount of Rs 500 per month for next three months, move will benefit 20 crore women, says Nirmala Sitharaman.
1.42 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also announces wage increase in MGNREGA to benefit 5 crore families, additional wage of Rs 2,000 per worker.
1.38 pm: Sitharaman also says 1 kg of preferred pulses will be free every month for the next three months.
1.36 pm: “Free of cost 5 kg of rice or wheat for 80 crore Indians for the next three months under the scheme,” says Sitharaman.
1.32 pm: She says the package is known as Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan scheme.
1.30 pm: Sitharaman says the insurance cover will benefit 20 lakh people.
1.29 pm: Sitharaman announces relief package of Rs 1,70,000 crore for poor via cash transfer and food subsidy amid lockdown.
1.28 pm: Doctors and paramedics dealing with coronavirus will be given Rs 50 lakh insurance cover, says finance minister.
1.27 pm: Sitharaman pays her gratitude to the frontline workers dealing with coronavirus patients before announcing the relief package.
1.25 pm: The finance minister says a package will take care of the poor and migrants during the lockdown. “Do not want anyone to remain hungry and without money,” she adds.
1.20 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addresses media.
1.15 pm: Delhi metro to be shut till April 14 during the 21-day coronavirus lockdown.
1.13 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s to address media shortly. She is likely to announce an economic bailout package during the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
1.10 pm: All India Institute of Medical Sciences has constituted a task force to develop management protocols for the coronavirus pandemic, reports ANI.
1.07 pm: Two residents of Munger district in Bihar test positive for the coronavirus, reports PTI. The total number of confirmed cases in the state rises to six.
1 pm: The Assam government is building a massive quarantine centre to keep coronavirus patients, state health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma says in a tweet. The center will have a capacity of 700 people.
12.58 pm: The Russian government has ordered the civil aviation authority to suspend all regular and charter flights to and from the country from Friday to contain the coronavirus spread, reports AFP.
12.55 pm: More than 1,000 people stranded at various checkpoints on the Andhra Pradesh-Telangana borders due to the nationwide lockdown that began on Wednesday to check the spread of Covid-19. Read more here.
12.53 pm: Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav urges government to set up temporary shelters for people during the nationwide lockdown. “In this difficult time, the government should make arrangements to immediately transfer funds to the bank accounts of all Jan Dhan account holders in the country,” he tweets. “At the same time, rain-baseras should be set up for those wandering on the roads for their food, water, medicines, while maintaining a safe distance.”
12.51 pm: The West Bengal government is preparing a quarantine centre at Kaliyaganj in Uttar Dinajpur, tweets Trinamool Congress leader Derek O’Brien. “Centre has male and female ward, nursing station, doctors’ room, separate rooms for health workers, cleaning staff and security personnel,” he adds.
12.50 pm: Visuals of people following social distancing at a vegetable market in Tirupati during the 21-day coronavirus lockdown.
12.42 pm: Arvind Kejriwal says government has requested police officials to allow anyone who is seen delivering essential commodities despite not having a pass or identity card.
12.40 pm: “Shops and factories for essential services can remain open 24x7,” says Arvind Kejriwal.
12.38 pm: Arvind Kejriwal says there is a rumour that government is shutting all mohalla clinics in Delhi. “This is not true,” he adds. “They will remain open. It is unfortunate that a doctor of one such clinic, his wife and daughter have tested positive for the coronavirus. We are taking care of it.”
12.37 pm: “Station house office officer and district magistrate’s duty to ensure that essential services’ shops and factories are open and working in their areas,” says Kejriwal.
12.35 pm: Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal says online service providers, e-retailers delivering essential services and goods will be allowed to operate. “All essential services shops can remain open 24 hours so that there is no rush of people,” he adds.
12.32 pm: Kejriwal says the government is working hard to make sure essential services reach people. “Request people to stay home,” he adds. “Do not let others pay for your actions.”
12.30 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal address a press conference about the coronavirus situation.
12.27 pm: Anthony Fauci, who leads research into infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health in US, says there is a strong chance the new coronavirus could return in seasonal cycles, reports AFP. “What we’re starting to see now... in southern Africa and in the southern hemisphere countries, is that we’re having cases that are appearing as they go into their winter season,” he adds. “And if, in fact, they have a substantial outbreak, it will be inevitable that we need to be prepared that we’ll get a cycle around the second time.”
12.22 pm: India’s Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, says both the countries are working together to combat the spread of the coronavirus and collaboration is underway in the areas of diagnostics and therapeutics of the disease, reports PTI.
12.18 pm: Forty-eight people, who had come in contact with the first coronavirus fatality in Kashmir, are in quarantine and authorities are in touch with the states visited by the man to track those who may have been infected by him, reports PTI.
12.15 pm: Health Minister Harsh Vardhan urges people to not harass medical personnel involved in treatment of Covid-19. He assures people that they are taking necessary steps to prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus.
12.12 pm: Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren says his government has decided to provide two months ration in advance to the beneficiaries of the public distribution system during the coronavirus lockdown, reports PTI. Soren says around 90% of the families in the state will benefit from this decision.
12.10 pm: Delhi government orders all health care staff involved in the treatment of the coronavirus to undergo tests, reports The Times of India. Patients admitted with acute respiratory distress will also be tested for Covid-19.
12.08 pm: A 32-year-old man in West Bengal who was out to buy milk during the coronavirus lockdown has died after allegedly being beaten up by the police, reports India Today.
12.05 pm: Karnataka government has asked officials to take strict action against landlords who have been forcing doctors and paramedics to vacate from residential colonies over fears of contracting the novel coronavirus, reports PTI.
12 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will hold a press conference at 1 pm. Reports say she is likely to announce relief measures amid the 21-day coronavirus lockdown.
11.57 am: China for the second consecutive day has no new local coronavirus cases, reports Reuters. A total of 67 new cases were reported as of end-Wednesday, up from 47 a day earlier, all of which were imported, says the National Health Commission.
11.52 am: Bahujan Samaj Party President Mayawati urges Centre and state governments to provide relief package to the poor and daily wage earners during the 21-day coronavirus lockdown. “After effectively imposing the 21-day lockdown/curfew restrictions on 130 crore poor/working people of the country, the central and state government must provide a relief package for them so that they don’t starve,” she tweets. “Besides the various concessions given to the private sector during the lockdown, the people working there must get their monthly salary.”
11.48 am: The divisional commissioner of Kashmir has ordered an inquiry into the death of the first coronavirus patient in the region. “The patient who was later tested positive for Covid-19 has not been handled as per protocol required for treating such patients,” says an order issued.
11.42 am: Delhi Police issues directions to all deputy commissioners to ensure hassle free movement of e-retailers delivering essential services, reports ANI.
11.37 am: Jayanti Ravi says there have been three coronavirus deaths in Gujarat. This includes a 85-year-old woman who had a travel history to Saudi Arabia and had comorbid conditions and a 70 year old man from Bhavnagar who also had comorbid conditions.
11.36 am: Gujarat Principal Secretary (Health) Jayanti Ravi says 43 positive coronavirus cases have been detected in the state so far, reports ANI.
11.33 am: Sonia Gandhi suggests some measures to face the coronavirus health crisis in her letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi:
- Centre must consider announcing sector-wise relief package, including tax breaks, interest subvention, deferment of liability.
- All loan installment deductions from salaries of government employees may also be deferred for six months.
- Centre must consider deferring all EMIs for 6 months, interest charged by banks for this period may consequently be waived.
11.30 am: Congress President Sonia Gandhi writes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. She says the 21-day lockdown announced by him is a welcome measure in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. However, she seeks measures to protect doctors, paramedics and ease supply chain.
11.28 am: Delhi Police has suspended a constable posted at Ranjit Nagar Police Station for allegedly vandalising vegetable shops during the lockdown, reports ANI.
11.25 am: Pakistan’s centrally-contracted cricketers will contribute Rs 5 million to the national government’s emergency fund to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Pakistan Cricket Board Chairman Ehsan Mani on Wednesday said apart from centrally-contracted players contributing Rs 5 million, the employees in the board, up to the senior manager level, will contribute their one day’s salary. Those employed as general managers or on higher posts will give two days’ salary to the fund.
Read more here:
11.20 am: Bangladesh opposition leader and former Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia walked out of the jail on Wednesday afternoon after 25 months as the government conditionally suspended her jail term by six months. But several observers note that the ruling Awami League has chosen a time when the political impact will be minimal.
Read more here:
11.18 am: On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared the world’s largest ever quarantine measure, putting 1.3 billion Indians under lockdown as a way to halt the spread of the coronavirus disease. That the pandemic requires drastic measures is obvious.However, the legal method by which India implemented the lockdown has raised questions.
Read more here:
11.16 am: Doctors in Wuhan find that about 3% to 10% of patients who recovered from Covid-19 tested positive again after being discharged from hospital, reports South China Morning Post.
11.14 am: The US has so far reported 66,132 cases. Of these, 1,031 have died while 616 have recovered. More than half of all Americans have been told to stay home. New York is considered the epicentre of the US outbreak with over 30,000 cases. However, New York witnessed a slowdown in the hospitalisation rate after authorities strictly enforced social distancing.
Read more here:
11.12 am: Some shops and their customers are trying to follow the norms during the lockdown that began on Wednesday.
11.10 am: Pictures and videos have emerged from around the country of people being brutally hit by lathis, of doctors being assaulted and of vegetable vendors being slapped around and extorted for bribes. But arbitrary state violence will not help win public cooperation. The Indian Police must understand that coronavirus cannot be beaten with a lathi. Read more here.
11.08 am: Maharashtra health department says that a 65-year-old woman from Mumbai who tested positive for Covid-19 has died, reports ANI. However, the cause of the death is yet to be ascertained.
11 am: Raipur AIIMS Director NM Nagarkar says coronavirus cases in Chhattisgarh has risen to six, reports ANI.
10.52 am: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath holds meeting with officials over the spread of Covid-19, reports ANI. With social distancing – a term used to refer to a conscious effort to reduce close contact between people to prevent the spread of the virus – becoming the norm, senior officials were seen seated at a distance from one another during the meeting.
10.47 am: A total of 800 people who came in contact with the mohalla clinic doctor in Delhi have been quarantined for 14 days, says Jain.
10.44 am: Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain says the total coronavirus cases in Delhi has risen to 36, reports ANI. “A mohalla clinic doctor and four others have been tested positive after they came in contact with an infected woman who returned from Saudi Arabia,” he adds. “The doctor’s wife and daughter have also tested positive.”
10.40 am: Budget carrier SpiceJet to operate special flight from Delhi to Jodhpur on Sunday to take Indians who have returned from Iran to a government quarantine facility, reports PTI.
10.35 am: The Union Health Ministry says total number of positive Covid-19 cases in India stands at 649 now. This includes 593 active cases, 42 cured and 13 deaths in the country.
10.27 am: A group of 40 labourers, stranded at Sealdah railway station in Calcutta since March 21 due to the coronavirus outbreak, reach Chagolia interstate checkgate in Assam’s Dhubri district after two days, reports The Telegraph.
10.25 am: Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan says he will be donating Rs 50 lakh to the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana chief minister relief funds to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
10.18 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will today join a virtual summit of G-20 leaders, organised to discuss the coronavirus epidemic, which will be chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
10.12 am: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik says he will give four months’ advance salary to doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff engaged in the treatment of the coronavirus, reports PTI.
10.10 am: Doctor Sudhir Singh at Lucknow’s King George’s Medical University Hospital says four people have tested positive for the coronavirus, reports ANI. This includes a 21-year-old woman whose parents tested positive, a 32-year-old man with travel history to Dubai, a 33 year-old woman and a 39 year-old man.
9.55 am: Health officials in West Bengal say that an elderly man has tested positive for the coronavirus in the state, reports PTI. The 66-year-old from Nayabad in Kolkata has no history of travelling abroad or outside the state.
9.49 am: Doctors at the Ernakulam Medical College Hospital in Kerala say that a British national who tested positive for coronavirus and was administered HIV antiretroviral drugs has now tested negative, reports PTI.
9.42 am: The police in Uttar Pradesh say 50 people have been booked for violating coronavirus lockdown stipulations in Muzaffarnagar district, reports PTI. “Strict action will be taken against those found wandering on the roads during the lockdown,” says Senior Superintendent of Police Abhishekh Yadav.
9.39 am: Maharashtra health department says two new coronavirus cases have been reported in Mumbai and Thane, according to ANI. The total Covid-19 cases in the state is now 124.
9.35 am: Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal says a 65-year-old man from Hyderpora, Srinagar, has died due to coronavirus. He adds that four of his contacts also tested positive on Wednesday.
9.27 am: Gautam Budh Nagar District Magistrate BN Singh says vehicles transporting essential goods do not need a pass and they shall not be stopped from going to their destinations during the 21-day lockdown, reports ANI.
9.25 am: Haryana Chief Secretary Keshni Anand Arora says the state has decided to extend terms of government doctors and others involved in essential services who are set to retire this month to stop the coronavirus spread, reports PTI.
9.22 am: The government temporarily suspends toll collection on national highways to ease emergency services in view of the coronavirus spread. Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari says this will not only reduce inconvenience to emergency services but also save critical time.
9.19 am: A petition filed before Chief Justice of India SA Bobde seeks release of all persons kept in the foreigners detentions centers in Assam due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports LiveLaw.
9.15 am: Steven Dick, deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Budapest, has died after contracting coronavirus, reports BBC. The Foreign Office in a statement says that the 37-year-old diplomat died in Hungary on Tuesday. He had served as Deputy British Ambassador to Hungary since December, according to a biography published on the UK government’s website.
9.10 am: The number of recorded coronavirus cases in Russia reached 658 on Wednesday, the biggest one day rise so far, reports Reuters.
9.09 am: Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, revered in Christian tradition as the site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial, was shut on Wednesday for a week, as a precaution against the coronavirus, reports AFP.
9.05 am: France registers 1,331 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, a jump of 231 from the day before, reports AFP.
9 am: Health officials in Madhya Pradesh say five more patients in Indore hospitals test positive for Covid-19, reports PTI. This takes the total number of cases in the state to 20. This includes a Ujjain-based woman, who died on Wednesday in Indore, say officials.
8.58 am: The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States has reached 60,115, while 827 people have died so far, according to Johns Hopkins University tracker.
8.52 am: Here’s what celebrities are doing during lockdown:
8.48 am: New York City in US takes aggressive measures to battle the coronavirus crisis, closing streets and asking people to stop playing basketball and other contact sports in public parks, reports Reuters. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says more than 30,800 people have tested positive for the virus in his state.
8.40 am: Health officials in Goa say three people with history of foreign travel have tested positive for the coronavirus, reports PTI. All three are male patients of ages 25, 29 and 55 years. They have travel history of returning to Goa from Spain, Australia and the USA, respectively, the officials said.
8.42 am: The total number of positive coronavirus cases in Telangana rises to 41, reports PTI. Two new cases including a three-year-old boy, have been reported in the state. The other case is a 43-year-old woman from Hyderabad who is “the family/primary contact of a previous positive case”, a government bulletin says.
8.12 am: The pandemic has infected 4,70,973 people globally, and killed 21,276 people across 173 countries or territories, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University.
8.07 am: Visuals of social distancing being practised at a milk booth in Gautam Budh Nagar.
8 am: The World Health Organisation on Wednesday urged countries that have locked down their populations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to find new cases and do everything they can to “suppress and stop” the transmission of Covid-19.
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7.50 am: The Haryana government will extend services of medical and para-medical staff who were due to retire this month, ANI reports.
7.48 am: A 66-year-old man in West Bengal’s Nayabad tests positive, ANI reports. This takes the number of positive cases in the state to 10, but the Centre has so far confirmed only nine active cases.
7.45 am: Visuals from the National Capital Region show the movement of vehicles transporting essential commodities and vehicles of doctors, media personnel and ambulances.
But private vehicles are not being allowed to enter.
7.43 am: Circulation of newspapers in Jammu and Kashmir has been affected by the lockdown, ANI reports.
7.40 am: Countries such as Russia, Iran, Germany and Canada have asked their populations to stay home but not mande it mandatory.
7.37 am: At least 18 countries, including Chile, Egypt, Ivory Coast and Serbia, have curfews in place. In Ecuador, people must stay home between 5 am and 2 pm every day.
7.35 am: South Africa will begin a 21-day lockdown from today, AFP reports. Panama began a lockdown on Wednesday.
7.30 am: The number of people who have been told to stay home is now more than 3 billion across 70 countries, according to AFP. This includes countries such as India, Italy, Britain, Argentina and some states in the US, where mandatory lockdowns are currently in place.
Here are the top updates from Wednesday:
- The total number of cases of the coronavirus in India rose to 606 on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Of these, 553 are active cases, 42 patients have recovered, 10 have died and one has left the country.
- The government postponed the first phase of the Census and National Population Register exercise in light of the pandemic. The exercises were scheduled to take place between April 1 and September 30.
- The Indian government has banned the export of anti-malarial drug hydroxycloroquine to ensure that enough stock is available in the domestic market.
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed his home constituency of Varanasi via video conferencing and said that the fight against the pandemic is a war that Indians will fight for 21 days and emerge victorious.
- Modi chaired a Cabinet meeting to discuss strategies of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. In the meeting, senior ministers were seen sitting at a distance from each other, to follow social distancing norms.
- Establishments selling essential commodities, such as groceries and milk, adopted innovative ways of practicing social distancing on the first day of the lockdown. Shopkeepers demarcated boundaries by drawing squares and circles in white paint for people to wait. Each circle was spaced at a distance from the other and individuals were seen standing inside their mark.
- E-commerce firm Flipkart and online grocery delivery companies Grofer and Bigbasket partially resumed services after assurance from authorities.
- Congress leader P Chidambaram asked the people, who he called the “foot soldiers” to support “Modi the commander”. Chidambaram suggested a 10-point plan to ensure that vulnerable groups do not miss out on food and money during the lockdown.
- A report said that over 2,000 daily wage workers and migrant labourers in Gujarat travelled on foot for several hours to reach Rajasthan’s Bichhiwara tehsil on Tuesday and early Wednesday.
- Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray assured the public that the state has adequate inventory of essential commodities, and appealed to people to not step out of their homes during the lockdown.
- The Kerala government closed all outlets of its state-run liquor corporation BEVCO.
- The Delhi Police arrested a man for allegedly spitting at a woman from Manipur, and calling her “corona”. The accused was identified as Gaurav Vohra, a resident of Model Town locality.
- The United Nations on Tuesday expressed solidarity with India and said it supported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision of imposing a 21-day countrywide lockdown in an attempt to stop coronavirus from spreading. World Health Organisation Representative to India Henk Bekedam described India’s response to the escalating health crisis as “comprehensive and robust”.
- The Indian health ministry’s internal data showed that the country has a capacity of 37,618 isolation beds, 9,512 intensive care unit beds and 8,432 ventilators as of Tuesday to tackle the crisis brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Domestic benchmark indices rallied nearly 7% to log their biggest single-day gain since 2009, after crashing on Tuesday. The markets shook off concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, buoyed by hopes of receiving an economic stimulus package.
- China on Tuesday asked India not to use the country’s name while referring to the coronavirus, and said that it could stigmatise the country and harm international relations. Beijing has strongly objected to the terms “China virus” or “Wuhan Virus”, and had engaged in a diplomatic spat with the United States over the origin of COVID-19 earlier this month.
Across the world
- The pandemic has infected over 4.41 lakh people and killed over 19,700 across 169 countries or territories, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University.
- Chef Floyd Cardoz, who tested positive for Covid-19, died of the infection in a hospital in New Jersey on Wednesday. He was the co-owner of two popular restaurants in Mumbai – the Bombay Canteen and O Pedro. He had recently launched his third venture, the Bombay Sweet Shop.
- Prince Charles of the United Kingdom on Wednesday tested positive for the novel coronavirus, his office Clarence House said in a statement. The 71-year-old heir to Queen Elizabeth II exhibited mild symptoms of Covid-19. Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, have gone into self-isolation in Scotland.
- The International Monetary Fund and World Bank urge governments to put a hold on debt payments from the poorest nations.
- US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed that G7 nations have agreed that China was waging a “disinformation” campaign about the pandemic.
- 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.
- Iran President Hassan Rouhani has warned that his government is poised to introduce tough new measures to combat Covid-19.
- 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. It is now second only to Italy.