10.46 pm: Here are the top updates from Friday:

  • The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare last updated its website with data about Covid-19 patients on Friday morning, reporting 30 new cases since Thursday evening and 75 since Thursday morning. The toll rose to 17. State governments have reported dozens of new cases and several deaths since the data was released.
  • The Reserve Bank of India slashed the repo rate by 75 basis points to 4.4%, and allowed all commercial banks and non-banking financial corporations a three-month moratorium on payment of installments of all term loans.
  • All domestic commercial flights in India will remain suspended till April 14.
  • India is likely to join the World Health Organization’s “solidarity trial”, an international study for developing effective drugs against the coronavirus, the Indian Council of Medical Research said.
  • The Ministry of Home Affairs issued an advisory to all states and Union Territories, urging them to take immediate steps to stop the mass exodus of migrant workers employed in the informal sector.
  • The Centre released Rs 4,431 crore to clear pending wage dues under the rural jobs scheme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said 325 government schools will be turned into temporary kitchens that will offer free lunch and dinner to four lakh people.
  • Global credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service slashed its estimate of India’s economic growth forecast for the year from the previous estimate of 5.3% to 2.5% due to the rising economic cost of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Health Secretary Matt Hancock tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Friday. Johnson, 55, is the first head of government to have contracted the infection.
  • International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva said that it is clear that the global economy has entered a recession worse than the one of 2009.
  • The total number of cases, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University, rose to over 5.6 lakh, and the toll to over 26,000. Of these, Italy has accounted for over 9,000 deaths, and Spain for 4,934.

10.42 pm: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has yet to update the numbers for Friday on its website. The last update was at 9.15 am.

9.03 pm: The number of patients in Rajasthan rises to 50 after seven new cases, ANI reports.

9 pm: The coronavirus pandemic has driven the global economy into a downturn that will require massive funding to help developing nations, International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva says.

“It is clear that we have entered a recession that will be worse than in 2009 following the global financial crisis,” she said.

8.45 pm: The Delhi government says the number of patients has reached 40, ANI reports.

8.43 pm: The global toll rises to over 25,000, AFP reports.

8.42 pm: Four more people test positive for Covid-19 in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, PTI reports. The number of patients in the Union Territory rises to six.

8.40 pm: An 85-year-old doctor who was suspected to have the coronavirus, dies at a private hospital in Mumbai, PTI reports.

8.38 pm: Himachal Pradesh reduces the length of daily curfew relaxation period from six hours to three hours, PTI reports.

7.54 pm: Three policemen have been arrested and dismissed from duty for allegedly thrashing and firing at a youth who was transporting potatoes in Patna’s Danapur in Bihar on March 25, ANI reports quoting Director General of Police Gupteshwar Pandey. The police personnel have been identified as Anirudh Kumar, Rajnish Kumar and Bablu Kumar.

7.48 pm: The Delhi Police have registered 65 cases and detained over 3,400 people for violating lockdown orders, PTI reports. However, this is lower than the number of cases filed and people detained on Thursday.

7.43 pm: The Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, an umbrella organisation of sex workers in West Bengal, is in talks with the government, as many sex workers have been thrown out of work, PTI reports. A senior minister says the state government is mulling to extend the benefits of free ration to the sex workers.

7.38 pm: The total number of coronavirus cases in Latin America has passed 11,000, reports AFP.

A volunteer of a soup kitchen sews face masks for the low-income people at her home on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina on Thursday. (Photo credit: Reuters)

7.35 pm: The Ministry of Human Resource Development has postponed the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test, ANI reports.

7.26 pm: Around 3,000 police personnel who are engaged in keeping people off the streets in Indore in Madhya Pradesh have been advised to stay away from their families as a precaution against possible spread of coronavirus, PTI reports. The order has been issued by Inspector General of Police Vivek Sharma.

7.22 pm: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has said that hotels are allowed to provide home delivery of food, Mumbai Mirror reports. However, they will not be allowed to serve food inside the establishments.

7.17 pm: IAS officer and Kerala Sub-Collector Anupam Mishra has been suspended for violating instructions to be under home qurantine after his trip abroad, PTI reports.

7.11 pm: Even though no coronavirus case has been reported in Assam so far, the state government has decided to turn three state-run hospitals into centres for treating Covid-19 patients, minister Himanta Biswa Sarma says according to PTI. “We have decided to keep these three medical college and hospitals free from the burden of general patients,” he adds.

7.08 pm: A 56-year old man in Dakshina Kannada district has allegedly died by suicide after suspecting that he had coronavirus, PTI reports. The man hanged himself from the ceiling fan of his house in Mangaluru on Friday morning.

7.04 pm: The Maharashtra Health Department says that the number of cases in the state has risen to 153 after five more people were detected positive in Mumbai, and one in Navi Mumbai.

6.56 pm: United Kingdom Health Secretary Matt Hancock tests positive for Covid-19, according to BBC.

6.53 pm: Pakistan has opened its borders with China for a day to accept Chinese medical supplies to fight the coronavirus outbreak, PTI reports. Over 1,300 people have been infected in Pakistan so far, and nine have died.

6.50 pm: People walk home on foot in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur due to the absence of transport:

6.46 pm: Kerala has reported 39 positive cases of the coronavirus on Friday. This takes the total number of cases in the state to 164, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan says. He adds that 34 of the 39 infected are from Kasargod.

6.41 pm: Uttarakhand government issues helpline numbers for Covid-19 for each district:

6.35 pm: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation says that nine more people have tested positive for the virus in Mumbai on Thursday, ANI reports. Five of them have a history of travel abroad, and four are close contacts. Six of them are from Mumbai and three are from outside.

6.31 pm: The Jammu and Kashmir government says the total number of cases in the Union Territory has risen to 18. It adds that one patient has recovered and one has died.

6.26 pm: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has announced a Rs 2,200-crore financial package to assist the weaker sections of the society.

“The novel coronavirus has emerged as a major crisis for people across the globe,” Patnaik says in a video message. “This crisis has affected the life and livelihood of our poor people. Therefore, I announce a special package of Rs 2,200 crore for the welfare of the poor.”

6.20 pm: Public gatherings will be limited to four people and a range of establishments shut in Hong Kong, after the region reported its highest single-day rise in cases – 65, the South China Morning Post reports. However, a proposal to ban bars and restaurants from serving alcohol has been rejected.

6.16 pm: Spain has decided to return some “faulty” test kits sent to it by a Chinese company, Reuters reports. China’s Shenzhen Bioeasy Biotechnology Company says it will replace the kits, after the Spanish government deemed them too inaccurate.

6.10 pm: The Goa Congress attacks the Pramod Sawant-led BJP government for keeping shops selling essential items closed during the 21-day lockdown despite the Centre exempting these establishments, PTI reports. “The CM should say who gave him the right to overrule Central guidelines,” Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar says. “He should explain if he has any vested interest in keeping shops closed.”

Chodankar adds that the Sawant-led government has been unable as yet to set up any testing laboratories in the state.

6.07 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi calls for a “more nuanced and compassionate approach” to deal with the coronavirus crisis. “The lockdown will devastate our poor and weak,” Gandhi says posting a video on Twitter of some children who had been starving. “It will deliver a heavy blow to the India we love. India isn’t black and white. Our decisions have to be carefully thought through. A more nuanced and compassionate approach is required to deal with this crisis. It’s still not too late.”

6 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishes his British counterpart Boris Johnson recovery. “You’re a fighter and you will overcome this challenge as well,” Modi tweets referring to Johnson. “Prayers for your good health and best wishes in ensuring a healthy UK.”

5.54 pm: “Even if there is an increase of 100, 500, or 1000 cases in a single day, we are ready for it,” says Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. “Testing kits, ambulances and ICU beds have been arranged. We are not saying cases will increase, we are just preparing ourselves for any eventuality.”

5.50 pm: Centre will clear entire pending wages of Rs 11,499 crore under MNREGA, say agriculture ministry officials according to PTI.

5.44 pm: Centre releases Rs 4,431 crore to clear pending wages under rural job scheme Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, PTI reports.

5.42 pm: Indian Army has distributed ration packets among the daily wage earners, migrant workers and the needy in Kashmir, ANI reports.

5.39 pm: BJP National President JP Nadda says that on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s request, one crore BJP workers will distribute 5 food packets each, every day among the poor. “Initiating this drive today, I handed over 10 food packets to police personnel, to be distributed among the needy,” Nadda says.

5.38 pm: The Mangaluru Police are forcing violators of the lockdown to hold “I am guilty” placards, The Indian Express reports. “I am guilty. I have violated Covid-19 lockdown orders,” the placard reads.

5.32 pm: Indian Army officials say five hospitals across the Army, Navy and Air Force can carry out Covid-19 tests as of now, ANI reports. “Six additional hospitals are also being equipped with the resources to begin testing,” they add.

5.24 pm: Over 100 people, including the dean, doctors and health staff of a medical college and hospital in Ahmedabad have been quarantined after the dean’s wife tested positive for Covid-19, PTI reports. “The college dean’s wife, who tested positive for coronavirus yesterday, works as a pathologist at some other hospital and may have got infected during her work,” Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Deputy Commissioner Om Prakash says.

5.19 pm: Telangana Chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has called for greater public discipline and asked people to stay indoors, The Indian Express reports. “Even with the lockdown, 10 new cases were reported today,” he says. “So people should realise how serious the situation is. They should cooperate with the authorities and stay indoors. People going out to buy essentials should not move around in groups.”

5.15 pm: Congress MP Digvijaya Singh has said he will donate Rs 25 lakh from his local area development fund to Bhopal district authorities to provide relief to those affected by the lockdown, PTI reports.

5.10 pm: The Uttar Pradesh Police have collected Rs 1.92 crore in fines from people for violating the lockdown, PTI reports. “To strictly implement the lockdown in districts, police registered 3,710 FIRs against 11,317 violators since Monday after the lockdown orders,” Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi says.

5.05 pm: President Ram Nath Kovind has asked governors and lieutenant governors of states and Union Territories to rope in volunteers from the Red Cross and other religious organisations to contain the spread of Covid-19 as soon as possible, PTI reports.

4.58 pm: Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar demands that the Reserve Bank of India give clear instructions to banks and other financial institutions to stop loan recovery for three months, PTI reports. He says the banks will not heed a mere request.

4.54 pm: United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus, Downing Street has said according to BBC. He says he has mild symptoms and is self-isolating.

4.51 pm: Lav Agarwal claims WHO’s strategy to “find, isolate, test, track and treat” has been India’s strategy from the start, The Indian Express reports. “Lockdown is one of the strategies; WHO talked about find, isolate, test, track and treat,” he says in response to a question. “This has been our strategy from Day 1. It was a comprehensive approach from the very first.”

4.42 pm: The Centre says it will provide three-months pension in advance to senior citizens, disabled individuals and widows, PTI reports.

4.38 pm: India will soon participate in the World Health Organization’s “solidarity trial” for developing potential drugs for Covid-19, says the Indian Council of Medical Research, PTI reports.

4.33 pm: On OPDs being shut, a health ministry official says: “We have issued guidelines for tele-medicine facilities. We urge patients to take advantage of them.”

4.28 pm: Spain’s toll reaches 4,858 after 769 people die in 24 hours, AFP reports.

4.22 pm: Agarwal says a public sector undertaking has been asked to make 10,000 ventilators, while another set of 30,000 will be made available by Bharat Electricals, News18 reports.

4.18 pm: States, Union Territories have been asked to make arrangements for shelter, food for migrant labourers, says Agarwal according to PTI.

4.10 pm: 1.4 lakh companies have allowed employees to work from home to check spread of coronavirus, says health ministry according to PTI.

4.01 pm: As many as 75 new cases of coronavirus have been reported in last 24 hours, says Joint Health Secretary Lav Agarwal, as the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare begins its press briefing.

3.53 pm: Iran announces 144 new deaths from the coronavirus, taking the number of fatalities to 2,378, reports AFP.

3.50 pm: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has extended restrictions on domestic flights till April 14 amid a countrywide lockdown.

3.42 pm: The Maharashtra health department says 12 more people, who are contacts of earlier positive cases, test positive for coronavirus in Sangli district, reports ANI. So far, there are 147 positive cases in the state.

3.39 pm: The Rajasthan government says a person in Jodhpur has tested positive for Covid-19, reports ANI. He came in contact with a coronavirus patient during travel from United Kingdom to Jodhpur. With this, the total number of cases in the state has risen to 46.

3.36 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath says he has urged the chief ministers of Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Haryana to arrange food and lodging for citizens amid the coronavirus lockdown, reports ANI. “We will bear the cost of the arrangements,” he says. “We’ve appointed nodal officers to coordinate with governments of 12 states whose people are living in Uttar Pradesh.”

3.32 pm: The Supreme Court seeks response from the Centre on a plea seeking directions for immediate evacuation of around 850 pilgrims stranded in Iran’s Qom city in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, reports PTI. A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Surya Kant, heard the matter through video-conference, and directed the government to provide adequate medical support to the citizens till their evacuation.

3.28 pm: People in Singapore could be jailed for up to six months if they intentionally stand close to someone else, according to new rules announced to halt the spread of the coronavirus, reports AFP.

3.23 pm: The Union government directs states and Union Territories to ensure that caregivers of persons with disabilities are able to reach them during the three-week lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to control the spread of the coronavirus.

“While COVID 19 is impacting the entire population, persons with disabilities are more vulnerable to the disease due to their physical, sensory and cognitive limitations,” Secretary of the department Shakuntala Gamlin says. “As such, there is a need to understand their disability specific requirements, daily living activities and take appropriate and timely measures to ensure their protection and safety during situations of risk.”

3.20 pm: The Department of Telecommunications has asked telecom operators to submit their requirement for additional spectrum necessitated due to the upsurge in data consumption because of the lockdown to the Wireless Planning Commission, reports PTI.

3.17 pm: India’s aviation regulator DGCA extends validity of pilots’ licences that were nearing expiry by 90 days, stating that they were facing problems in completing various requirements due to the restrictions imposed contain Covid-19, reports PTI.

3.13 pm: The Tamil Nadu government says it will issue appointment orders to 1,508 lab technicians, 500 doctors and 1,000 nurses for immediate joining to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, reports ANI.

3.08 pm: The Karnataka health department says a 10-month-old male child from Dakshina Kannada district has tested positive for the coronavirus, reports The Indian Express. The patient “has no history of travel to COVID-19 affected countries and was isolated at a designated hospital in Dakshina Kannada,” says a media bulletin. “As per the preliminary investigation, the child was taken to Kerala by their family members. The detailed investigation is under process and six primary contacts have been traced and are under house quarantine.”

3.03 pm: Three new positive cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Uttar Pradesh’s Gautam Buddh Nagar, according to PTI. Two cases are from Sector 137 in Noida, while the third case is from Sector 3. This takes the total number of cases in Gautam Buddha Nagar to 17.

3 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to represent India at a global meeting of city leaders, organised by C40 group, to share lessons in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, reports Times Now. Meeting will be held via video conference and the chief minister will address around 35 city leaders around the world.

2.55 pm: GoAir says it has offered government its aircraft, crew and airport staff members to carry out emergency services and repatriation of citizens during the coronavirus outbreak, reports PTI. “GoAir has reached out to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the DGCA and offered its services in the wake of a complete lock down across the nation,” the budget airline says in a press release.

2.52 pm: The Kerala Police have registered a case against an IAS officer who jumped home quarantine, reports PTI.

2.49 pm: Kolkata Municipal Corporation reserves two burial grounds and a crematorium for last rites of coronavirus victims, days after a controversy erupted over the cremation of West Bengal’s first casualty, reports PTI.

2.45 pm: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Germany has risen to 42,288 and 253 people have died of the disease, reports Reuters.

2.42 pm: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat sanctions Rs 50 lakh from the chief minister’s relief fund for food, lodging and transportation of the citizens of the state who are stranded in Delhi amid the coronavirus lockdown, reports ANI.

2.40 pm: A chart showing new cases in India.

2.36 pm: A chart of testing done in India so far.

2.33 pm: A chart showing the cumulative figure of the coronavirus cases in India.

2.30 pm: The South Delhi magistrate also assures people that food and basic amenities will be provided to them during the lockdown period.

2.29 pm: Mishra says they have issued 1500 e-passes for commute during the coronavirus lockdown. He adds that 200 more e-passes will also be issued in the next few hours.

2.27 pm: South Delhi District Magistrate Brijmohan Mishra tells ANI that the government has prepared the database for requirement of food for daily wage earners. “We’ve also roped in certain agencies to provide food packets,” he adds. “Yesterday, we distributed 9,500 food packets.We require 11,134 food packets daily for locations in South Delhi.”

2.22 pm: Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba tells state governments to step up the surveillance of international passengers who reached India before the government banned commercial flights from abroad from landing in the country to contain the coronavirus spread. Gauba says there was a gap in the number of passengers who should have been monitored and the actual number.

“This may seriously jeopardise our efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19, given that many amongst the people who have tested positive for Covid-19 so far in India have a history of international travel,” the Cabinet Secretary wrote in a letter to all chief secretaries.

2.15 pm: Four new patients in Punjab, including three in Hoshiarpur and one in Jalandhar, test positive for the coronavirus, reports Hindustan Times. This takes the total number of cases in the state to 37. Meanwhile, a coronavirus patient who died in Punjab on March 18 is believed to have spread the virus to at least 23 of the state’s 33 cases, according to NDTV.

2.08 pm: The staff members of Odisha Assembly have been directed to stay under home quarantine as one of them had come in contact with a person who tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday night, reports The Hindu.

2 pm: Jammu Municipal Corporation bans all construction activities with immediate effect due to the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, reports ANI.

1.56 pm: The Department of Financial Services urges people to not believe rumours regarding the closure of banks’ branches. “Customer service branches committed for necessary services during the lockdown,” it says in a tweet.

1.50 pm: Goa’s disaster management authority to provide shelter to homeless people during the 21-day coronavirus lockdown, says PTI.

1.44 pm: The home ministry also tells state governments to ensure hotels, hostels, rented accommodations remain functional and to get essentials amid lockdown to combat the coronavirus spread.

1.42 pm: The home ministry advises states and Union Territories to tell vulnerable groups about free food grains, other essentials to stop mass exodus during the coronavirus lockdown, reports PTI.

The Union government on Thursday announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore package, providing free food and cash transfers to support the poorest citizens who are most vulnerable during the crisis.

1.40 pm: Head constable of Government Railway Police has been suspended after he allegedly took money to illegally ferry migrant workers in train during the coronavirus lockdown on Thursday, reports PTI.

1.14 pm: Former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar donates Rs 50 lakh, reports PTI.

Also read

Coronavirus: Sachin Tendulkar donates Rs 50 lakh, Hima Das gives one month’s salary

1.10 pm: The Director General of Civil Aviation extends the validity of pilots’ licences that were up for renewal for 90 days, reports PTI.

12.58 pm: Maharashtra government has asked the Ministry of Defence for permission to use their hospitals in case of any emergency, says state Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, according to News18.

12.57 pm: Tamil Nadu reports six new positive cases.

12.55 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi tells Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami to enforce the three-week national lockdown strictly, says the state government. “Considering public good, the prime minister said the prohibitory orders under Section 144 should be followed strictly and people should ensure social distancing,” the government’s release reads. “The chief minister replied that all these aspects are being fully implemented.”

12.49 pm: A 65 year-old man who had tested positive for coronavirus died in Karnataka’s Tumakuru, K Rakesh Kumar, the deputy commissioner, tells ANI. “He had travelled to Delhi by train on March 5 and returned on March 11,” he adds. “All passengers who travelled with him on the train are being traced.”

12.43 pm: Three fresh cases of coronavirus have been reported from Bihar in the last 24 hours, says the health department, according to PTI. Total number confirmed cases in the state is now nine.

12.40 pm: South Africa records first two coronavirus deaths, reports AFP. Infections have crossed 1,000.

12.38 pm: Brazil churches are exempted from quarantine as President Jair Bolsonaro says places of worship are “essential services”, reports AFP.

12.32 pm: Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the shahi imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid, urges all Muslims to offer prayers from their homes.

12.30 pm: Two more patients who were admitted at Naidu Hospital have tested negative in their repeat test, says Dr Rajendra Hunkare, the chief of health department of Pune Municipal Corporation. Total number of positive cases in Pune district is now 32, of which 10 have recovered, reports ANI.

12.23 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi praises the RBI for safeguarding the economy. “The announcements will improve liquidity, reduce cost of funds, help middle class and businesses,” he adds.

12.20 pm: The Moody’s slashes its estimate of India’s GDP growth during 2020 calendar year to 2.5% from an earlier estimate of 5.3%.

12.17 pm: The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority asks all states and union territories to ensure seamless movement of stock and manpower of pharma companies, reports PTI.

12.16 pm: China reports one local case after three days, and 54 new imported cases.

12.15 pm: Russia orders cafes to close nationwide from Saturday, reports AFP.

12.14 pm: Kejriwal says the Delhi government has made arrangements to provide lunch and dinner in 325 schools. “Around 500 people will be provided food in all these schools,” he adds. “So far, we were providing food to 20,000 people daily, the number will now increase to around 2,00,000 from today. The number will be doubled from tomorrow, we’ll be providing food to 4,00,000 people daily.”

12.12 pm: No case has been reported in Gujarat in the last 12 hours, says Jayanti Ravi, the principal secretary of Health and Family Welfare department.

12.03 pm: There are a total of 39 positive cases in Delhi today, says CM Arvind Kejriwal. “29 of them had come from outside and were kept in quarantine and 10 of these are cases of local transmission.”

11.57 am: The Indian Army has named its anti-Covid-19 fight as “Operation Namaste”. The army has, so far, established eight quarantine facilities across the country. “[The] Army has successfully come out of all operations in the past, and will successfully execute Operation Namaste as well,” Army chief General MM Naravane tells ANI.

11.56 am: The Kerala government has sought an explanation an IAS officer for allegedly skipping home quarantine after he returned from Singapore nearly 10 days ago, reports PTI. “We have asked him to provide his current address and travel details to Bengaluru,” says District Collector B Abdul Nasser. “On his return to Kerala from the foreign trip, he had undergone, medical examination and did not show symptoms. His close family and personal staff, including gunman, are under observation.”

The officer claims he was quarantined in Bengaluru. However, his cell phone location showed him to be at his hometown in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, reports The News Minute.

11.50 am: The total number of coronavirus cases in Andhra Pradesh rises to 12 after another man tests positive in Visakhapatnam today, reports PTI.

11.49 am: The Karnataka government asks district administrations to use residential schools and hostels that fall under Social Welfare Department as quarantine centres, reports PTI. “Wherever necessary, these residential schools and hostels can be converted as quarantine facility without any extra cost by the district administrations,” Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol says. The total number of Covid-19 cases in Karnataka stands at 55 as of Thursday.

11.45 am: Chinese President Xi Jinping says China and US must ‘’unite to fight virus’’, reports AFP. Xi and Donald Trump speak over phone. Trump says the US and China are “working closely together”.

11.41 am: Another man has tested positive in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the second such case in the Union Territory, says Chief Secretary Chetan Sanghi, according to News18.

11.39 am: Saurashtra Cricket Association donates Rs 21 lakh to Prime Minister Relief fund and Rs 21 lakh to Chief Minister Relief Fund to fight the pandemic, reports ANI.

11.37 am: The Tamil Nadu prison department procures 58 cell phones to facilitate videochat between the inmates and their family members during lockdown, reports The Times of India.

11.36 am: NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant praises the RBI governor for allowing the three-month moratorium. “This is the way to go,” Kant tells ANI. “This is a progressive and timely measure.”

11.23 am: Israel thanks the Indian government for evacuating over 500 Israelis by special Air India flights on Thursday and Friday, reports ANI. “Today, we are evacuating 317 Israelis,” ambassador Ron Malka said on Thursday. “In another flight tomorrow, 200 more Israelis to be evacuated. Indian government has helped us a lot, I want to thank them; Israel took drastic measures to fight coronavirus, the situation there is under control.”

11.20 am: Maharashtra Transport Commissioner Shekar Channe has issued a special pass to a 28-year-old man to drive from Mumbai to Kolkata to attend his father’s last rites, reports The Indian Express. Anindya Roy got the pass after he made appeals on social media platforms. “It is the first such request we received,” says Channe. “We have issued a pass for him to facilitate his journey home on humanitarian grounds.”

11.14 am: The man who died after jumping off the Safdarjung Hospital earlier this month has tested negative for Covid-19, reports The Indian Express.

Also read

Delhi: Suspected coronavirus patient taken for tests dies by suicide at Safdarjung Hospital

11.12 am: A total of 31 hotels in Kolkata have agreed to offer pay-and use rooms to people who have been asked to live in isolation for 14 days, reports PTI. The rooms will be available at a very subsidised rate and all meals will be provided. “Responding to an appeal made by the Hotel & Restaurant Association of Eastern India, its members have agreed to offer these rooms to be reserved for isolation purposes,” says association secretary Sudesh Poddar.

11.08 am: The Delhi Police withdraw its previous order allowing delivery services by online retail firms, reports The Indian Express.

Also read

Coronavirus lockdown: Delhi Police withdraw order allowing online deliveries

11.05 am: The Editors Guild of India expresses concern over “high-handed and arbitrary” police action against journalists reporting on the pandemic. “The state and union territory governments and the police also need to be reminded that media has been exempted as an essential service under the current lockdown guidelines of the Union Home Ministry,” it says in a statement.

11.04 am: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will address the media at noon.

11.02 am: Five more people – four from Nagpur and one from Gondia – have tested positive, Nagpur divisional commissioner tells ANI.

10.58 am: The Patna Police in Bihar arrested three police officials for shooting at a driver of a vehicle carrying potatoes, and demanding a bribe of Rs 5,000, reports The Indian Express. The driver, Sonu Sah, was ferrying the vegetable from the riverine belt to Danapur town. He was shot in the leg after an altercation with the police constables.

Sah was admitted to the Patna Medical College and Hospital, and the three police constables were booked for attempt to murder and extortion.

Also read

Covid-19 lockdown: Three Bihar policemen shoot at van driver, demand bribe; arrested

10.53 am: The Maharashtra Police find over 300 migrant workers holed up inside two container trucks meant for carrying essential commodities from Telangana to Rajasthan, PTI reports.

Also read

Coronavirus lockdown: 300 migrant workers found holed up in two container trucks in Maharashtra

10.50 am: The Union health ministry restricts the sale and distribution of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, reports PTI. “The Central government is satisfied that the drug ‘hydroxychloroquine’ is essential to meet the requirements of emergency arising due to pandemic Covid-19 and in the public interest, it is necessary and expedient to regulate and restrict the sale and distribution of the drug and preparation based thereon for preventing their misuse,” reads the government order.

10.37 am: Das urges people to not resort to panic withdrawals.

10.36 am: Das assures that Indian banking system is safe and sound. “RBI will continue to be vigilant and take steps necessary to mitigate impact of coronavirus,” he says.

10.35 am: RBI chief Shaktikanta Das says all banks, lending institutions may allow a three-month moratorium on all loans.

10.33 am: “Cash reserve ratio lowered to 3% from 4% for all banks for a period of one year,” says Das.

10.33 am: RBI reduces the Cash Reserve Ratio by 100 basis points.

10.32 am: RBI has cut the liquidity adjustment facility by 90 bps to 4%.

10.31 am: “It is our effort to ensure normal functioning of the markets, nurture the impulses of growth and preserve financial stability,” says Das, adding that the central bank has quarantined 150 members in order to maintain continuity of their work.

10.30 am: The intensity, spread and duration of the coronavirus will determine the state of the global economy, says Das.

10.29 am: RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das says if Covid-19 prolongs then supply chain could get disrupted and it could jeopardise India’s growth. “We hope that drop in crude oil prices will help India,” he adds.

10.26 am: “Finance is the lifeline of the economy,” says Das. “Keeping it flowing is the purpose of the RBI.”

10.22 am: “We are not giving out inflation and growth projection numbers due to the uncertain conditions,” says RBI chief, adding that banks must do everything to ensure that credit flow is maintained. “We are fighting an invisible assassin,” he says.

10.19 am: Das says that the government has taken timely and appropriate measures to contain intensity, spread and duration of the coronavirus.

10.17 am: “There is a rising probability that large parts of the world economy will slip into recession,” says Das.

10.15 am: Das says Monetary Policy Committee met from March 24 to March 27. “Speaking to you under extraordinary circumstances,” he adds.

10.13 am: Das say repo rate has been reduced by 75 basis points to 4.4.%, and reverse repo-rate reduced by 90 basis points to 4%. Four out of the six members of the Monetary Policy Committee voted in favour of the move, he adds.

10.11 am: RBI chief Shaktikanta Das addresses media.

10.02 am: RBI chief Shaktikanta Das will address the media a day after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled a Rs 1.75 lakh-crore fiscal stimulus package as the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise sharply in India.

Also read: Sitharaman’s ‘quick response’ to Modi’s coronavirus lockdown is a start – but much more is needed

9.59 am: Rajasthan health department says two new positive cases have been reported in Bhilwara, reports ANI. Both patients are close relatives of the person who was tested positive and died on Thursday.

9.55 am: Another coronavirus patient has died in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara city, reports BBC. MG Hospital chief Rajan Nanda says that ‘source of infection is still not clear”, adding that they have not found any foreign contact history.

9.40 am: The Union Health Ministry says the toll in the coronavirus pandemic has risen to 17, and the total number of cases is 724 now. Of these, 640 patients are still being treated.

9.30 am: Two more positive coronavirus cases have been found in Bihar – one each in Siwan and Nalanda.

9.25 am: Union minister Prakash Javadekar says the 1987 television series Ramayan, based on the Hindu epic, will be retelecast on DD National from Saturday. There will be two episodes, according to ANI.

9.18 am: Shiv Sena MLAs and MPs will contribute a month’s salary to the chief minister’s fund, ANI reports.

9.15 am: Another case of the virus has been reported in Telangana, ANI reports. The 45-year-old man had travelled to Delhi and is now in a stable condition.

9.10 am: Testing is the key to fighting coronavirus – so why does India have such a low testing rate? Testing kits are being under-utilised because of restrictive norms. Read more here.

9 am: Police in some parts of the country distribute food to those in need amid the lockdown.

8.55 am: Venezuela reports first death after a 47-year-old man dies, AFP reports. The man had an “occupational disease in the lungs,” Vice President Delcy Rodriguez says. The South American country has recorded 107 cases so far. The country is under a total lockdown as schools and businesses have been closed and no commercial flights have been banned.

8.50 am: The Japanese government says there is no immediate need to declare emergency, Reuters reports.

8.45 am: RBI chief Shaktikanta Das is expected to address the media at 10 am amid the economic uncertainty caused due the lockdown over Covid-19 pandemic.

8.40 am: India’s coronavirus lockdown leaves transgender people at heightened risk of poverty and ill health because they exist on the margins of society, eking out a living through sex work and begging, activists and community members said on Tuesday.

Read more here:

As India enters 21-day lockdown, the transgender community will be pushed further to the margins

8.35 am: The spread of the coronavirus and the unplanned lockdowns have created economic havoc in the lives of the millions who are part of the informal sector – not just daily wagers, but also workers of the gig economy. The economic situation resulting from the lockdown that is necessary to contain the spread of the virus will hurt even those who will escape the disease. Here are a few suggestions on what can be done immediately to deal with this situation.

Read more here:

Coronavirus lockdown: 30 steps government should take to ease the suffering of the poorest Indians

8.30 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said there was a need to strengthen and reform the World Health Organization so that it can adapt to new challenges. The prime minister made the remarks during a special G20 summit video conference where the group of nations committed to unite against the coronavirus pandemic, and inject $5 trillion (Rs 374 lakh crore) into the world economy to counter the impact of the crisis.

Read more here:

  1. At G20 summit, Narendra Modi calls for a stronger WHO to fight coronavirus, say reports
  2. Coronavirus: G-20 countries to inject $5 trillion in global economy to fight pandemic

8.25 am: Three Covid-19 patients from Pimpri Chinchwad have recovered, reports ANI.

8.20 am: India has approved the sale of 18 diagnostic kits made by private companies for coronavirus testing, a top official confirmed on Thursday. These include three kits made by Indian companies which have been evaluated by the National Institute of Virology in Pune, and 15 kits which have obtained fast-track approvals based on licences and certificates obtained in other countries.

Read more here:

Coronavirus: 18 testing kits approved for sale in India. Experts raise concerns

8.15 am: In the age of eSports, millions of gamers play every day and many do so for the many positives it brings. Read how online gaming can create a sense of community here.

8.10 am: Policemen in Budaun, Uttar Pradesh forced migrant labourers seeking to return home after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a nationwide 21-day lockdown to hop like frogs on the road. In a video posted on social media, they were seen using their batons to make five civilians do this.


UP: Migrants forced to hop like frogs on the road during lockdown, Budaun police chief apologises

8.05 am: Visuals of people taking shelter in Anand Vihar as India entered its third day of shutdown on Friday. The Delhi government is providing free meals at these shelters.

8 am: A Covid-19 patient has died in Bhilwara in Rajasthan, ANI reports. The death has not yet been confirmed by the Centre. “He had comorbid conditions including diseases relating to kidney and blood pressure,” says Rajan Nanda, the principal of Mahatma Gandhi Hospital.

7.50 am: The second positive coronavirus case has been recorded in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, ANI reports. This person travelled with the first patient. Both have been hospitalised.

7.45 am: China, Iran and some other countries seek UN pressure to make the US lift sanctions, AFP reports.

“We urge you to request the complete and immediate lifting of such illegal, coercive and arbitrary measures of economic pressure...in order to ensure the full, effective and efficient response of all members of the international community to the coronavirus,” the signatories say in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. They said they want to “reject the politicization of such a pandemic”.

The signatories include Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela, North Korea, Nicaragua, Cuba and Syria. While the letter does not specifically mention the US, all the signatories face sanctions from the Donald Trump government.

7.40 am: The United States surpasses China and Italy to have the most reported cases – 85,505. There have been 1,288 deaths in the country so far. Experts have warned that the US may soon become the epicentre of the pandemic.

The epicentre of the pandemic shifted from China to Europe this month. At least 8,215 people have died in Italy, 4,365 in Spain, and 1,696 in France. On the other hand, the number of new domestic infections in Wuhan, China, the original epicentre of the outbreak, has closed in on zero – though the country has reported a total of over 81,782 cases. Italy has reported 80,589 cases while Spain had 57,786.

7.35 am: France reports 365 deaths in a single day, the country’s highest, AFP reports. French health official Jerome Salomon says the country’s toll has now risen to 1,696. But this does not include the people who died at their homes or in retirement homes.

As many as 29,155 people have tested positive for the virus so far in France, he says but admits that there may be more cases as only high-risk patients have been tested.

7.30 am: The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world cross half a million – 531,708.

Here are the top updates from Thursday:

  • 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 and 633 active cases. 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.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended an emergency virtual G-20 summit convened to discuss the pandemic. While the G-20 leaders agreed to release $5 trillion to combat Covid-19, Modi said that they should put human beings rather than economic targets at the centre of their vision for global prosperity. He called for free and open sharing of medical research for the benefit of humanity.
  • The chief ministers of Delhi and Maharashtra announced that medical and grocery shops, as well as shops selling other essential commodities, can remain open all 24 hours of the day.
  • The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation announced that all metro services in the national Capital will be closed till April 14.
  • The Andaman and Nicobar Islands reported their first coronavirus case on Thursday. A man who returned from Kolkata two days ago tested positive for Covid-19, a government official said.
  • The Chhattisgarh government took control of the privately-run Raipur Institute of Medical Sciences in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The takeover, under the Chhattisgarh Epidemic Disease Covid-19 Rules, 2020, gave the state control of all staff and healthcare facilities at the hospital.
  • The Karnataka government, like the Delhi government on Wednesday, warned landlords against evicting doctors and paramedics from their residences.
  • More than 1,000 people are stranded on the Telangana-Andhra Pradesh border due to the nationwide lockdown, a report said.
  • Congress President Sonia Gandhi expressed support for Modi’s decision to lock down the country for 21 days.
  • The Maharashtra government has decided to release around 11,000 prisoners, whose term of imprisonment is less than seven years, on parole, amid the coronavirus epidemic.
  • Globally, the total number of cases rose to 4,95,068, and the number of deaths to 22,295, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University.