The number of people who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in India rose to 1,024 on Sunday evening, according to Ministry of Health figures. The toll rose by two since the morning, taking it to 27.
The Narendra Modi-led government told states and Union Territories to seal their borders, as migrant labourers attempted to return home on foot. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also asked people to stay where they are amid an exodus.
As the 21-day nationwide lockdown entered its fifth day on Sunday, the movement of migrant labourers became a major cause of concern, as they tried to return home from large cities where they have lost sources of income and livelihood. State and the central governments have urged them to remain where they are as crowding increases the risk of infection.
Globally, the total number of cases, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University, rose to over 6.8 lakh and 31,882 people have been killed due to it as of Sunday morning. Of these, Italy has accounted for over 10,000 deaths, and Spain for more than 6,500.
The national helpline number for the coronavirus is 011-23978046, and a toll-free number 1075.
Here are the day’s updates:
8.45 pm: Maharashtra and Kerala continue to have the highest cases in the country, at 186 and 182 people each. The number of cases in Delhi has jumped by 23, and by 11 in Uttar Pradesh.
8.15 pm: The health ministry says the number of cases of coronavirus has now risen to 1,024, with 27 deaths.
7.52 pm: Assam issues passes to people feeding stray animals, reports News18. “Passes have been issued to animal lovers but they should maintain social distancing and follow other guidelines,” an official said.
7.49 pm: Congress leader Priyanka Vadra write to the chiefs of major telecom companies including Airtel, Reliance, Vodafone and BSNL, asking them to make calls free to ease communication during the pandemic.
7.40 pm: The home ministry clarifies that the transportation of all goods is now allowed, and there is no distinction between “essential” and “non-essential” good anymore. It also allows the Red Cross Society to work, the transportation of all milk and dairy, as well as delivery of newspapers.
The Union home secretary issues issues a note to the chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories on this.
7.19 pm: Spain records a new record toll as 838 people have died in the country in the last 24 hours due to the coronavirus, reports AFP. This takes the total number of deaths in Spain to 6,528.
7.18 pm: The health ministry issues an advisory for elderly people during the pandemic.
7.17 pm: The civil aviation authority has suspended breathalyser tests for pilots amid the outbreak, reports News18.
7.15 pm: The toll over the last 24 hours in the UK is 209 people, down from 260 from the previous day, reports The Guardian.
6.53 pm: Tamil Nadu reports eight new cases from Erode district, ANI reports. The patients were identified through contact tracing and were in contact with Thai nationals who were undergoing treatment at IRT Perundurai, state health minister Dr C Vijayabaskar says.
6.48 pm: Karnataka Health Department reports seven new cases of the coronavirus in the state, ANI reports. The total number of Covid-19 cases in the state stands at 83, out of which, 5 have been discharged and 3 have lost their lives, the state health department adds.
6.41 pm: The Delhi Chief Minister urges industrialists and businessmen to help their employees. “Please don’t let your workers go hungry,” he says. “If you have earned wealth, this is the time to use it.”
6:39 pm: Kejriwal appeals to all landlords not to force tenants to pay rent amid the lockdown, PTI reports. “If anyone is unable to pay, the government will pay for them,” he adds.
6.32 pm: United Food Delivery Partners’ Union in Bengaluru issues a statement demanding financial assistance of Rs 1,000 per day for all food delivery partners and workers who face the risk of getting infected while carrying out their duties. The union also demands that food delivery workers are made to work on alternate days with an assurance of getting paid even on their non-working days. “Food delivery partners reach out to many people and hence they are constantly under the threat of getting infected,” the statement adds. “Therefore, ensure that the companies provide necessary mask and hand sanitizer for the delivery workers.”
6.18 pm: Kerala records 20 more positive cases in the state, News18 reports. Out of these, 18 have travel history abroad and two were in contact with other patients, state health minister KK Shailaja says. Of the total of 202 cases in the state, 181 are active, while four people who were under treatment tested negative today, she adds.
6.14 pm: Kejriwal says the Delhi government has made arrangements for food and shelter for whomever needs it.
6.13 pm: I appeal to people to stay where they are, says Arvind Kejriwal.
6.12 pm: Kejriwal says if people do not listen to the prime minister and stay where they are, the purpose of the lockdown will fail.
6.10 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal briefs the media. He says thousands of people are leaving the city they are in and even crossing borders to go back to their home towns, breaking lockdown rules.
5.57 pm: The Gujarat government has decided to release around 1,200 prisoners for two months on parole and interim bail to reduce jail crowding, an official says according to PTI. “Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has informed the home ministry, which will prepare a list of convicts, undertrials who can be released on parole and interim bail respectively, as required,” Ashwani Kumar, secretary to Rupani, says.
5.52 pm: A video of a Madhya Pradesh police officer writing “I have violated lockdown restrictions, keep away from me” on the forehead of a labourer in Chhatarpur district has gone viral on social media, The Indian Express reports. A show cause notice has been issued to the officer.
5.44 pm: India has shifted all personnel at its consulates in Herat and Jalalabad in Afghanistan to Kabul because of Covid-19 concerns, the Hindustan Times reports citing sources. The consulate at Herat is located very close to the border with Iran and the region has seen a massive influx of Afghan refugees and workers from the neighbouring country. On the other hand, it was felt that medical facilities in both Herat and Jalalabad are not good enough to deal with a Covid-19 outbreak.
At least 110 cases of the coronavirus and four deaths have been reported in Afghanistan so far, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University.
5.36 pm: Several residents protest against the burial of a coronavirus victim at a cemetery located near her house in Ahmedabad, PTI reports. The health officials and police take her mortal remains to another burial ground where, after some protests, she is finally laid to rest.
5.22 pm: Tokyo reports 68 cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, The Japan Times reports. This is the highest number of cases the city has recorded in a day.
5.14 pm: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu asks Rajya Sabha MPs to contribute one month’s salary to the PM-CARES fund for strengthening the government’s efforts to contain Covid-19.
5.10 pm: Dozens of prisoners broke furniture and smashed windows during a riot in Buriram prison in Thailand on Sunday, after rumours that a coronavirus epidemic was spreading through the prison, AFP reports. Some convicts escaped during the violence, but some arrests were also made.
5 pm: A meeting of Union Cabinet ministers is under way at the residence of Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss the Covid-19 crisis, ANI reports. Home Minister Amit Shah, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and other senior ministers are at the meeting.
4.55 pm: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, says stricter restrictions could be put in place if necessary, BBC reports. Johnson wrote a letter to all British households on Sunday, saying: “It’s important for me to level with you – we know things will get worse before they get better.”
Britons will also get a leaflet detailing government rules on leaving the house and health information.
4.52 pm: The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi says five Pakistanis returned to Pakistan via the Attari-Wagah border on Sunday, ANI reports. These individuals had come to India on medical visas and they were stranded in Noida, due to restrictions.
4.50 pm: Punjab government is in discussion with Radha Soami Satsang Beas, which has already offered its buildings as quarantine facilities, to allow migrant labourers to stay there, says Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh according to ANI. These individuals would be needed for wheat harvesting, which begins in two weeks.
4.40 pm: Six deaths and 106 positive Covid-19 cases were reported in the last 24 hours from six states, says the Health Ministry. The ministry is trying to identify hot spots for the virus.
4.38 pm: The Home Ministry says provision must be made for food and shelter for stranded labourers, PTI reports. It adds that by and large, the lockdown has been effectively enforced.
4.31 pm: Pope Francis has backed the United Nations’ call for a ceasefire in all global conflicts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, AP reports. During his traditional Sunday blessing, the pope calls for ‘’the creation of humanitarian aid corridors, the opening of diplomacy and attention to those who are in situations of great vulnerability”.
4.26 pm: “Under Indian Railways, 1.25 lakh wagons transporting essential commodities, such as food grains, sugar, salt, coal, petroleum, etc, have been operated in last 5 days,” says Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal.
4.24 pm: “Till today we have conducted 34,931 tests,” ICMR official R Ganga Ketkar says according to ANI. “Capacity utilization in the Indian Council of Medical Research network is around 30%. We have increased some labs, 113 have been made functional and 47 private labs have been given approval.”
4.20 pm: Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope says three more people have tested positive for the coronavirus, PTI reports. The total number of cases in the state has increased to 196.
4.12 pm: Frustrated at not being able to get liquor due to the lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus, two men in Kodungaloor in Thrissur district allegedly died by suicide, PTI reports. “Suneesh was frustrated over the non-availability of liquor and was showing withdrawal symptoms,” a police officer said.
Noufal was admitted to hospital in Alappuzha district after he felt uneasy. However, he consumed shave lotion after facing withdrawal symptoms and died.
4.05 pm: After SpiceJet said that one of its pilots has tested positive for Covid-19, an Air India pilots union has requested aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation to temporarily suspend breath analyzer tests, PTI reports. A letter by Indian Commercial Pilots Association says “continuing BA Tests in these circumstances is extremely dangerous”.
3.50 pm: Indian Oil Corporation says India has enough reserves of petrol, diesel and cooking gas to last the three-week period of the countrywide lockdown. All fuel plants, refineries and supply chain channels across the country are fully operational, the corporation’s chairperson Sanjiv Singh tells PTI in an interview.
3.46 pm: SpiceJet says that one of their pilots, who did not fly any international flights in the month of March, has tested positive for the coronavirus. “The test report came on March 28,” a SpiceJet spokesperson says. “He did not operate any international flight in March.”
3.40 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi says the sudden lockout announced by the Centre to combat novel coronavirus has created immense panic and confusion, PTI reports. Gandhi, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, says it is necessary to take steps different than enforcing a complete lockdown, as India’s conditions are unique.
Gandhi says the number of poor people in India who are dependent on a daily income is too large to unilaterally shut down all economic activities. “The consequences of a complete economic shut down will disastrously amplify the death toll arising from Covid-19,” Gandhi adds.
3.34 pm: Spain announces 838 virus deaths in past 24 hours, a new record, AFP reports.
3.30 pm: The Centre issues an order to all states and Union Territories to ensure that all state borders are sealed. This in effect will prevent migrant labourers from crossing into other states to return to their villages.
3.20 pm: South Korea will enforce a two-week mandatory coronavirus quarantine for all entrants from overseas starting Wednesday, Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun has said according to The Korea Times. All entrants to the country, regardless of their nationality, should stay in quarantine, the prime minister has said.
3.14 pm: Bollywood actor Salman Khan has pledged to financially support 25,000 daily wage workers from the film industry, the Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees has said according to PTI. “Salman’s Being Human Foundation has come forward to help daily wage workers,” the federation’s president BN Tiwari says. “They called us three days ago. We have about 5 lakh workers out of which 25,000 are in dire need of financial help.”
3.06 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has said that his government will take care of all migrant labourers and provide them basic necessities like food and water, PTI reports. The “Shiv Bhojan” scheme offering meal at Rs 10 will now be available at Rs 5 from April 1, he says.
“The state will protect them and provide food, but they should not leave their place,” Thackeray says. “I understand that they are anxious but they should not leave. They should avoid increasing the risk of infection.”
2.55 pm: In Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur, government officials record temperature and stamp people who came from Delhi before allowing them to board buses for their destination, ANI reports. “The stamp shows that the person’s temperature has been recorded,” says Naib Tehsildar Radhyesham Gupta.
2.41 pm: Gautam Buddh Nagar District Information Officer Rakesh Chauhan says four more people have tested positive for Covid-19, ANI reports. A total of 31 people have thus tested positive in the district.
2.30 pm: In many villages in Purulia district, barricades have been put up to restrict entry of outsiders, ANI reports. Announcements are being made asking people who have returned from cities to take necessary precautions and stay home.
2.01 pm: Seven migrant labourers who returned to Purulia district of West Bengal from Chennai have quarantined themselves on a banyan and two mango trees back home amid the coronavirus pandemic, The New Indian Express has reported. The labourers’ families live in single-room mud huts, so they decided to live away from their homes and their village.
1.52 pm: The police in Thane have filed cases against 11 people, including a Covid-19 patient, for allegedly flouting quarantine norms and organising pre-wedding functions despite prohibitory orders, PTI reports. Maharashtra has the maximum number of coronavirus cases – 186 – in India.
1.41 pm: The United States now has more than 1.24 lakh cases of Covid-19, the maximum in the world. The number of deaths has doubled in two days, reaching 2,000 on Saturday night, according to The Washington Post.
1.34 pm: The police in Navi Mumbai found 60 people – mostly labourers – being ferried in a container truck and a tempo early on Sunday, PTI reports. A case has been filed against the drivers of both the vehicles.
1.25 pm: Seventy-year-old woman dies after Karnataka police stop ambulance coming from Kasaragod in Kerala from reaching hospital Mangaluru, reports PTI. Karnataka has sealed its border with Kerala because of coronavirus.
1.16 pm: The Madhya Pradesh government decides to promote students of all classes, except 10 and 12, without exams, reports PTI.
1.13 pm: Sri Lanka reports first death due to covid-19, reports Reuters. There are 115 confirmed cases in the country.
1.07 pm: Government schools in Delhi are being converted into temporary shelters for the homeless and migrant workers amid the coronavirus lockdown, reports ANI. On Saturday, thousands of migrants left Delhi for their hometowns in special buses.
12.59 pm: Forty-year-old woman dies of Covid-19 in Mumbai, reports ANI. The toll in Maharashtra is now seven.
12.52 pm: Central Board of Secondary Education donates Rs 21 lakh to PM CARES fund. The fund to combat coronavirus was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.
12.33 pm: SpiceJet says one of its pilots has tested positive for the coronavirus. The pilot did not fly any international flight in March, and his last flight was a domestic one on March 21, the airline says.
12.04 pm: Restrictions on the movement and assembly of people in Kashmir have been strengthened after a second Covid-19 death, PTI reports.
11.35 am: The prime minister expresses sadness at incidents of ill-treatment of those in home quarantine and those with suspected Covid-19.
11.30 am: Modi says social distancing is also a time to reduce emotional distancing. He praises those who have quarantined themselves after returning from foreign travel, despite not having symptoms.
11.08 am: Modi says some people are violating lockdown rules. “If you break the lockdown rules, the fight against the coronavirus will become even more difficult,” he says. “Many people in other countries thought they would get away, but they are all now regretting their actions,” Modi says.
11.06 am: “The fight against the coronavirus is a matter of life and death, and we must win this fight,” Modi says. “This is why these stringent measures were necessary. We must keep you and your families safe.”
11.04 am: Modi apologises to citizens for the lockdown, “especially to the poor”.
11.02 am: In his Mann Ki Baat address, PM Narendra Modi says the lockdown appeared to be the only way possible to contain the spread of the pandemic, and apologises for the inconveniences.
11.01 am: Bihar minister Sanjay Kumar Jha says migrant workers coming back from neighbouring states will be kept in quarantine in relief centres at state borders for 14 days, ANI reports.
10.58 am: Three more people have tested positive in Ahmedabad, taking the total number of cases in Gujarat so far to 58, ANI reports.
10.55 am: The Delhi government releases Google Maps locations of “hunger relief centres” across the city, where free lunches and dinners will be available.
10.53 am: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife Sophie says she has recovered from Covid-19. “I am feeling so much better,” Sophie Trudeau says.
10.48 am: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appeals to migrants to stay in the city and not return to their villages. He says the risk of infection is higher in big crowds, and this would take the disease to remote villages across the country. He assures them of shelter and food in Delhi.
10.22 am: The Centre has confirmed six more deaths, taking the toll to 25. The number of total cases so far is 979 – including 867 active cases, 86 recoveries and one person who left the country.
9.56 am: A man suffering from Covid-19 dies at a Srinagar hospital, PTI reports. This is the second death in Jammu and Kashmir.
9.54 am: Indian Oil Corporate Chairperson Sanjiv Singh tells PTI that there is no need for the public to panic on LPG supplies. He says the company is servicing 100% of refill orders.
There is more than adequate petrol, diesel and LPG available to last beyond the lockdown period, he says.
9.47 am: Late on Saturday, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister KP Maurya urged migrants in Delhi to not leave the city, and warns them of a 14-day quarantine in government camps if they return to their villages. “No one will return home from Delhi, you will have to stay in government camps, not in your homes and villages, for 14 days,” he tweeted. “The government will cater to all your needs.”
The Uttar Pradesh government had arranged for nearly 1,200 special buses to ferry those who work in other northern states back home. However, the buses made available on Saturday were too few – there were 10,000 to 15,000 people at the Anand Vihar bus depot at 9.30 pm, and only 60 to 70 buses, Shahdara Deputy Commissioner of Police Dinesh Kumar Gupta told PTI. More than 500 more buses were due to reach by midnight, he said.
9.37 am: United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson writes a letter to every household in the country to urge them to stay home. He tells them it is important for them to not venture out so that the National Health Service can cope with the pandemic.
Johnson himself had been found positive for the coronavirus on Friday and is isolating himself.
9.32 am: Earlier in the day, United States President Donald Trump decided against ordering a quarantine in three states – New York, New Jersey and Connecticut – after consulting with their governors. Instead, he asked for a “strong travel advisory” from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The country now has over 1.24 lakh cases – over 53,000 of them in New York state alone.
9.20 am: Delhi’s Tihar jail has released 419 prisoners to “reduce overcrowding”, Hindustan Times reports. Of these, 356 were released on a 45-day interim bail, and 63 on an eight-week emergency parole.
9.08 am: Thousands of migrant workers from northern states were seen scrambling to board buses to get home at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border on Saturday as a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus stripped them of livelihoods and shelter.
8.46 am: An infant has died of Covid-19 in Illinois, United States – the first known death of a child younger than a year old.
8.43 am: In an article in The Indian Express, economists and Nobel laureates Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo express concern at the widespread movement of migrant labourers wanting to get back home. They warn of the disease exploding in rural areas over the next many months.
Their solutions to avert this include stronger awareness campaigns, honest reporting, offering more ways to report the disease, training rural health practitioners on Covid-19, and setting up large mobile teams of health workers in states with testing kits and other equipment. They also urge the government to be “much bolder” with the social transfer schemes.
“We...need to be prepared for the disease to explode in pockets all over the country, including some of the more remote rural areas, over the next many months. Moreover, some of these hotspots will be exactly where our system of healthcare is the weakest. On average, we have about 1/8 as many hospital beds per capita as China, which is frightening in itself, but even those are concentrated in the more prosperous areas.”
8.40 am: A 39-year-old man who set off on foot from Delhi to his hometown in Madhya Pradesh due to the countrywide lockdown collapsed and died after walking around 200 km, The Times of India reports. The man used to deliver orders for a restaurant in Delhi that shut down due to the spread of Covid-19.
8.39 am: A batch of 275 Indians has reached Jodhpur after being evacuated from Iran, ANI reports. They will be kept at an Indian Army centre.
8.38 am: Today’s Mann Ki Baat episode will be focused on the Covid-19 situation, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
8.37 am: A person who came back from Amravati in Maharashtra and four members of his family have tested positive in Meerut, ANI reports.
8.35 am: The managing director of an unidentified company in Noida has been booked for hiding his travel history, district Chief Medical Officer Anurag Bhargav tells ANI. Thirteen employees of the company have tested positive for Covid-19.
8.15 am: In Goa, several churches have announced that Sunday masses will be live-streamed and broadcast on TV, ANI reports.
8.10 am: The Gautam Buddh Nagar district administration in Uttar Pradesh issues an order saying that any worker or employee infected with Covid-19 in Noida and Greater Noida will get 28 days of paid leave from their employer, PTI reports. The administration orders shops, industries and factories that are closed because of the ongoing lockdown to give daily wages along with leave to their workers.
8.07 am: The number of deaths in the United States crosses 2,000, according to Johns Hopkins data.
8.02 am: The toll in Turkey crosses 100, says Health Minister Fahrettin Koca.
8 am: Spain will halt all nonessential economic activity for two weeks to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez says.
7.30 am: Here are the top updates from Saturday:
- The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in its 5.45 pm update said there are 918 cases of the coronavirus in the country so far. Of these, 819 are active cases, 79 have recovered, and 19 people have died. One person has left the country.
- A 69-year-old man, who tested positive for the coronavirus, died in Kerala’s Ernakulam district on Saturday. This is the first Covid-19 death in the state. However, the Union Health Ministry has not confirmed it yet.
- Over 200 citizens urged the Narendra Modi government to provide immediate assistance to migrant workers stranded in several parts of India due to the three-week lockdown. However, the Centre said India’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been “proactive, preemptive and graded”, brushing aside criticism that the 21-day nationwide lockdown was announced without planning.
- Staff at the King George’s Medical University in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, were asked to donate a day’s salary so that the administration can purchase protective equipment for the front-line workers to tackle Covid-19. However, the order, issued on Friday, appears to have been rescinded on the same day.
- The Uttar Pradesh government arranged 1,000 buses to ferry migrant workers trying to return to their villages amid the countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus.