10.45 pm: Here are the top updates from Thursday:

  1. The number of coronavirus patients in India rose to 21,700 on Thursday evening. The toll increased to 686, while the number of patients who have recovered stood at 4,323.
  2. Maharashtra recorded 778 new cases of Covid-19 on Thursday, its worst single-day spike, taking the total number of patients in the state to 6,427. Mumbai accounted for 522 of these cases.
  3. The Centre asserted that India has performed much better in containing the pandemic that developed countries, with the exception of South Korea. It added that the number of cases in India has grown in a linear fashion, not exponentially.
  4. Congress President Sonia Gandhi said the coronavirus pandemic has spread quickly in India, but “unfortunately, testing still remains low and testing kits are still in short supply and of poor quality. PPE kits number and quality is poor”.
  5. The Ministry of Finance announced that three installments of Dearness Allowance to central government employees or pensioners will be put on hold.
  6. United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Globally, the toll from the coronavirus pandemic crossed 1,86,000, and more than 26,60,000 cases have so far been recorded in 185 countries and territories since the disease first emerged in China late last year, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

10.15 pm: At least 56 persons have been sent in quarantine after a dietician associated with the mess of Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital in Delhi tested positive, Medical Superintendent Dr JC Passey says, according to ANI. The kitchen has been temporarily shut down.

9.43 pm: The Uttar Pradesh government confirms 61 more cases, taking the total to 1,510.

9.41 pm: Mumbai’s civic body says 478 new patients were found in the city on Thursday, taking the tally to 4,232, while the toll has risen from 160 to 168, PTI reports. The numbers according to the Maharashtra government are 4,205 and 167, respectively.

9.40 pm: US Senator Elizabeth Warren says her eldest brother Don Reed has died of coronavirus.

9.31 pm: In Rajasthan, the number of cases reaches 1,964 after 76 new cases are reported.

9.25 pm: The Gurugram district administration increases the number of containment zones to 24, ANI reports.

9.20 pm: Delhi confirms 128 new cases, taking the total to 2,376. The toll rises to 50.

9.18 pm: Seven new cases are reported from Kashmir.

9.14 pm: The toll in Punjab rises to 17 after the death of a six-month-old due to Covid-19, PTI reports.

9.11 pm: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tells at an ASEAN video conference that China is taking advantage of the world’s preoccupation with the coronavirus pandemic to push its territorial ambitions in the South China Sea, AP reports.

9.02 pm: Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb says the state is free from coronavirus after the second patient has been found negative in consecutive tests. The first patient had already recovered.

9 pm: Maharashtra reports 778 new positive cases on Thursday, taking the state’s tally to 6,427. The toll rises to 283.

8.55 pm: The number of containment zones in Delhi is now 92.

8.20 pm: The Odisha government announces a 60-hour complete shutdown in Balasore, Bhadrak and Jajpur districts from 10 pm on Thursday till April 26, ANI quotes Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy as saying.

8.07 pm: In a letter to all states, the Union Home Ministry says the lockdown guidelines do not mandate any legal action against an establishment or its head in case an employee is found infected. The ministry said apprehensions about this were based on wrong interpretation of the guidelines by some companies and the media.

8.04 pm: Telangana has 23 new positive cases, taking the total to 970, including 25 deaths, says the state health minister.

7.20 pm: Union minister Prakash Javadekar accused the Congress of deliberately trying to create divisions in the society during the fight against the coronavirus, PTI reports.

7.06 pm: In Madhya Pradesh, the number of cases has reached 1,687 – as many as 945 of them in Indore.

7 pm: On the Centre’s decision to send teams to monitor the situation in West Bengal, Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha says the state has been responding to the ICMR, home secretary and health ministry.

“Tomorrow if I say that Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla has to come here physically to find out an answer from me, what is the logic of this?” he asks. “With the whole technology where we can talk to each other at five minutes’ notice, we can talk to each other over phone, they can see what is happening through satellite, direct and indirect indicators. Why should they come here and expect us to cooperate?”

6.30 pm: Punjab has 26 new cases today, taking the state’s total to 283.

6.28 pm: IndiGo has decided to roll back its pay cuts for employees in deference to the “government’s wishes”, PTI reports. Members of the company’s executive committee and senior vice presidents have, however, volunteered to take pay cuts, staff are told in an e-mail from the management.

6.25 pm: Kerala has 10 new cases, taking the tally to 447. Out of these, 129 are active cases, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan says.

6.20 pm: In Tamil Nadu, the number of cases rises by 54 in a day to 1,683.

6 pm: West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha says it will be a big challenge if the lockdown is opened on May 4, as close to 70% of cases in India are asymptomatic.

5.53 pm: A total of 1,229 new cases and 34 new deaths have been confirmed since Wednesday evening.

5.50 pm: The number of cases rises to 21,700, including 686 deaths, according to the health ministry. A total of 4,323 patients have recovered.

5.23 pm: The number of positive cases in Karnataka rises to 445 after 18 new patients.

5.22 pm: West Bengal reports 58 new positive cases, taking the tally to 334 active cases, ANI reports.

4.45 pm: ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava says it is difficult to tell whether the peak will arrive by May 3, but “it is very stable”. “Positivity rate has been 4.5% throughout, one can say we have been able to flatten the curve,” he says. “However, difficult to predict it.”

4.40 pm: AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria warns against stigmatising Covid-19 patients and says it discourages possible patients from going for testing.

4.32 pm: “Currently, our hospitals are not overwhelmed, but the preparation has to be of a much higher order, given the projections and our limitations,” says Mishra.

4.30 pm: Mishra says the facts show that India’s testing strategy has been focused, targeted and continues to expand. He adds that this is an evolving strategy.

4.26 pm: Mishra cites a graph to show India has performed much better than developed countries, barring South Korea. “We need to evolve our strategy based on the current position as seen here,” he says.

4.25 pm: Mishra says that in terms of the number of people testing positive, the situation is similar to one month ago and not much worse – around 4.5% people who were being tested were found infected.

4.22 pm: The growth in the number of cases in India has been “more or less linear, not exponential”, Mishra claims. Certain strategies have helped the government achieve this.

4.21 pm: The number of tests being done has increased 33 times in 30 days, Mishra says. However, he says the testing needs to be ramped up even further.

4.18 pm: CK Mishra, who heads an empowered committee to deal with the situation, says there has been “a lot of action” in the 30 days of the lockdown, and the government has ensured that the country remains stable during this period. He says that during this period, the country has been able to “cut transmission and minimise spread”, and improve the doubling rate, consistently ramp up testing, and utilise the time gainfully to prepare for the future if the virus spreads further.

4.15 pm: The health ministry says 78 districts have not had a single case in the last 14 days.

4.06 pm: The Centre begins its press briefing about the Covid-19 situation.

The home ministry has told states that in-house caregivers and bedside assistants for senior citizens, prepaid mobile recharge utilities and food processing units in urban areas are exempted from lockdown restrictions.


3.49 pm: Thirty-four police personnel in Bhopal test positive for Covid-19. As many as 30 family members have also contracted the infection, PTI reports.

To control the spread, 2,100 police personnel have stopped going home after their duty. “They have been put up in hotels and provided PPE kits, sanitisers and food,” Bhopal Additional Director General of Police, Upendra Jain, says. “After an analysis, we came to know that the virus found its way into the police force when our personnel went out to search for the people who had come to Bhopal after attending the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi last month.”

He adds: “As per the findings, there was no other source initially, except the Nizamuddin attendees, from whom they could have contracted the infection. The police went to the mosques under Jahangirabad and Ashbagh police stations towards the end of last month to look for the attendees.”

3.46 pm: Spain record 440 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the toll to 22,157, AFP reports. It has recorded 2.13 lakh cases so far.

3.39 pm: Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij directs the police to take action against politicians who violate the lockdown, PTI reports.

3.37 pm: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his country is making “good progress” to contain the spread of the virus, PTI reports. He adds that Australia is on its way to a “COVID-safe economy”.

3.35 pm: Goan crew members from a ship anchored at the Mumbai port have begun to disembark, Goa CM Pramod Sawant says, according to PTI. They will be tested for the coronavirus now and then taken to Goa.

3.25 pm: Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal directs authorities to create a Covid-19 facility for police officers. More than 20 police personnel have tested positive for the virus so far in Delhi.

3.13 pm: More than 100 Sri Lankan students studying at the Lovely Professional University in Amritsar were evacuated by a special Sri Lankan airlines flight, PTI reports. They were stranded after the coronavirus lockdown was put in place.

3.09 pm: Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar asks the Centre to operate special trains from Mumbai and Pune for migrant workers after the lockdown ends, PTI reports.

3.08 pm: Here are the testing numbers till 9 am on Thursday.

2.50 pm: The Haryana government decides to provide health insurance of Rs 10 lakh to all journalists reporting during the pandemic, ANI reports.

2.40 pm: The total number of cases in Rajasthan rise to 1,937.

2.37 pm: Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga says the state would not face any economic crisis due to the pandemic if natural resources are used properly, PTI reports. “We have vast fallow land and an abundant supply of natural resources. If these resources are used effectively, the state is unlikely to face economic crisis,” he says. “We should refrain from blaming each other in our fight against the dreaded virus. We continue with our collective efforts with renewed vigour and will overcome some day.”

2.35 pm: At the Congress Working Committee meeting, Rahul Gandhi says that after May 3, the lockdown must continue only in places declared Covid-19 hotspots. “As a nation we need to think of a transition from a lockdown to lockdown only in disease hot zones and commencement of activities in the green zones,” he says, PTI reports.

2.30 pm: The coronavirus tally in Assam rises to 35, PTI reports.

2.25 pm: The toll in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, rises to 53, PTI reports. The number of patients in the city rises to 945.

2.12 pm: Eighty new cases reported in Andhra Pradesh. The state’s tally now rises to 893, and the death toll increases to 27, PTI reports.

2.11 pm: More than 3,200 people have been arrested in Noida and Greater Noida for defying lockdowns in the past month, PTI reports.

2.10 pm: IndiGo rolls back the decision to cut the salaries of employees in April. Executive committee members and senior vice presidents have instead volunteered to take pay cuts, CEO Ronojoy Dutta says, according to PTI. Dutta adds that the decision was taken in deference to the Centre’s wishes.

2.08 pm: At the Congress Working Committee meeting, Rahul Gandhi says the problems of migrant workers must be addressed first, PTI reports.

2.06 pm: Doctors and other employees at the Lok Nayak Hospital allege that some Covid-19 patients threatened and assaulted them when they were asked to wait, ANI reports.

2.05 pm: In Haryana, the total number of cases rises to 270. Three people have died so far, ANI reports.

2 pm: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel seeks the Centre’s approval for payment of wages to workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in the form of food grains.

1.55 pm: The Delhi government tells landlords to not demand rent from labourers and students for a month amid the pandemic crisis, ANI reports.

1.42 pm: Gujarat Principal Secretary (Health) Jayanti Ravi says as many as 3,000 coronavirus tests are being conducted in the state everyday, reports PTI. “The Gujarat government has also decided to declare the figures of coronavirus tests and deaths only once in 24 hours, instead of the present practice of providing the details twice a day,” she adds.

1.40 pm: China will donate $30 million in cash to the World Health Organisation to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying says. “China already donated $20 million in cash to WHO on March 11,” he tweets. “At this crucial moment, supporting WHO is supporting multilateralism and global solidarity.”

1.35 pm: The governments of Assam and Meghalaya have announced an increase in the taxes levied on petrol and diesel resulting in a sharp rise in the prices even as the global crude oil prices plummeted into negative for the first time in history because of the coronavirus.

Read more here.

1.20 pm: Centre will not pay the additional installment of dearness allowance to government employees and pensioners due from January 1 due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports ANI. However, the dearness allowance and relief at current rates will be paid.

Read more here:

Covid-19: Three installments of Dearness Allowance put on hold amid crisis

1.11 pm: A doctor at an Eastern Railway hospital in Kolkata has tested positive for the coronavirus, reports PTI. Spokesperson of the railway zone says at least 10 staff members and four family members have been asked to quarantine.

1.08 pm: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is recovering well from the coronavirus complications and will be back at work soon, says Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, reports Reuters.

“He is also right now, as he is fully recovering, doing what we are asking people across the country to do, he is taking the advice of the medical experts and the doctors and doing as the doctors outlined him to do,” he adds.

1 pm: German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the country is still at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. “We’re not in the end phase of this infection,” she tells parliament. “This is very much its inception. Hardly any decision has been as hard for me as restricting people’s freedom. The time we have gained, we have used well to further strengthen our health system.”

Germany’s coronavirus toll has risen to 5,094, according to the country’s center for disease control.

12.57 pm: At the Congress Working Committee meeting, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra says compassion is the key to fight Covid-19. “As times pass, we need to permit migrant workers to return home after due testing and precautions,” she says.

12.50 pm: Four new coronavirus cases have been detected in Bihar’s Munger city, taking the total cases in the state to 147, reports ANI.

12.47 pm: A 51-year-old man from Mumbai has been arrested for refusing to accept groceries from a Muslim delivery agent. The police said that the delivery person had tried to reason with the customer but he remained adamant.

Read here: Mumbai man arrested for refusing to accept groceries from Muslim delivery agent

12.45 pm: A health worker sanitises vehicles of employees of Reserve Bank of India in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Credit: PTI

12.42 pm: Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy and Speaker VP Sivakolundhu took RT-PCR tests for Covid-19 as a precautionary measure at the legislative Assembly today. Other MPs, Ministers and MLAs are also expected to undergo the tests too.

12.37 pm: The finance ministry says more than 33 crore poor people have received financial assistance of Rs 31,235 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package.

12.35 pm: Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy says the Narendra Modi government has not provided any assistance to the Union Territory amid the extended lockdown to rein in the coronavirus pandemic. “How will we survive in times of crisis,” he asks. “We are not the enemies but have to act and work together.”

12.32 pm: The Karnataka government has partially relaxed lockdown norms in the state allowing IT services to operate with essential minimum staff along with certain construction activities, manufacturing of packaging materials, courier services, reports PTI. The activities will be permitted only outside the coronavirus containment zones identified by the government.

12.30 pm: Congress leader P Chidambaram at the party meeting urges Centre to provide assistance to states to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. “State of health infrastructure needs to be addressed,” he adds. “A humane policy for return of migrant workers needs to be put in place.”

12.28 pm: The government asked hospitals to stop outpatient departments and elective or non-emergency surgeries. As a result, private hospitals around India are reporting a sharp drop in footfall – as high as 70%-80%, according to a study. Hospital owners say this has caused a financial squeeze which might affect their ability to pay their staff.

Read more here: Fear of Covid-19 spread makes private hospitals turn away patients – or charge them higher bills

12.25 pm: The Telangana government has issued a notification stating that only the primary contacts of coronavirus patients will be tested and brought to the quarantine centres, reports The Indian Express. The home quarantine period has been extended from 14 to 28 days.

12.12 pm: “Conditions to fight Covid-19 aren’t satisfactory,” says Congress leader Ahmed Patel. “Government needs to find solutions to financial crisis being faced by all states, difficulties being faced by our doctors and health workers.”

12.05 pm: Karnataka reports 16 new coronavirus cases, taking the total to 443 in the state.

12 pm: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi says there are a few success stories from the coronavirus pandemic and those must be applauded.

Read more here: Centre acted on Congress’ suggestions in a miserly way, says Sonia Gandhi

11.58 am: Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra urges the Uttar Pradesh government to announce a relief package for Lucknow’s “chikankari’’ craft industry, saying it has been badly hit by the lockdown.

“Lucknow’s chikankari industry has brought laurels to UP in India and abroad,” she tweets. “This industry which is already reeling due to demonetisation and GST has suffered badly due to the lockdown.”

11.52 am: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleges that the Centre had sent defective coronavirus testing kits to the state after opposing the visit of the teams sent by the Centre to review the situation in the state.

Read here: Mamata Banerjee alleges Centre gave faulty testing kits

11.46 am: Coronavirus cases in Mexico cross 10,000, the fifth-highest in Latin America, reports Reuters.

11.41 am: Union Home Minister Amit Shah says the world is appreciating Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic. “Truth is self evident,” he tweets. “Entire world is praising Narendra Modi, the way he is handling Covid-19 global pandemic, taking care of Indians and helping the world community in such challenging times. Every Indian is feeling safe and trusts his leadership.”

11.37 am: Three people in Madhya Pradesh’s Sheopur district attacked a doctor and a policeman on Wednesday when they went to Gaswani village to screen a patient for the coronavirus infection.

Read here: Doctor, police officer attacked in MP village; three accused to be charged with NSA

11.35 am: “BJP is spreading the virus of hatred and communal bias at the time when everyone together should fight coronavirus,” says Congress President Sonia Gandhi, reports ANI.

11.32 am: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel urges Centre to form a policy to ensure return of migrant workers and students stranded in different parts of the country.

“Unless the Central government was to rise to the occasion and provide financial assistance to the states, how will the fight against Covid-19 be won,” he asks.

11.28 am: “Unless Central government comes forward to financially help the states, the fight against Covid-19 will get weakened,” says Rajasthan chief minister. “Unless there is a big financial package for States, how will normalcy return to states post lockdown.”

11.26 am: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot says there is urgent need for centralised procurement of testing kits and ventilators to ensure their availability, quality and quantity.

11.22 am: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh says Centre is yet to release Rs 4,400 crore of goods and services tax. “In place of 1 lakh rapid testing kits, we have received only 10,000 of Chinese make,” he adds. “Their authenticity is to be tested still.”

11.15 am: “Necessary to focus on a number of issues in this fight,” says Manmohan Singh at the Congress Working Committee meeting. “Fight against Covid-19 would very much depend upon the availability of resources.”

11.12 am: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says cooperation between the Centre and the states is necessary to tackle the coronavirus spread.

11.11 am: Sonia Gandhi says facilities must be provided to the farmers for the harvest of Kharif crops. “The issues of weak and unclear procurement policies and disrupted supply chains need to be addressed without delay,” she adds.

11.10 am: The Congress chief says migrant labourers are still stranded, jobless and desperate to return home amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown of the country. “They have been hit the hardest,” she says at the party meeting. “They must be provided with food security and a financial safety net in order to survive this period of crisis.”

She adds: “12 crore jobs have been lost in the first phase of the lockdown. Unemployment is likely to increase further as economic activity remains at a standstill. It is imperative to provide at least Rs.7,500 to each family to tide over this crisis.”

11.08 am: “We have repeatedly urged the prime minister that there is no alternative to testing, tracing and quarantine,” says Gandhi. “Unfortunately, testing still remains low and testing kits are still in short supply and of poor quality. PPE kits number and quality is poor.”

11.06 am: Gandhi says the Centre has only “partially” and “miserly” acted on the suggestions given by her to tackle the pandemic. “The compassion, large-heartedness and alacrity from the Central Government is conspicuous by its absence,” she adds.

11.02 am: “Trade, commerce and industry have come to a virtual halt and crores of livelihoods have been destroyed,” Sonia Gandhi says at the Congress Working Committee meeting. “Sections of our society face acute hardship, especially our farmers, migrant labour, construction workers and those in the unorganised sector.”

10.58 am: Congress President Sonia Gandhi says the coronavirus pandemic has increased disturbingly both in spread and speed since past three weeks.

10.52 am: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration says air pollution over northern India has fallen to a 20-year-low for this time of the year because of the nationwide lockdown, reports ANI. “I have never seen aerosol values so low in the Indo-Gangetic plain at this time of year,” says Pawan Gupta, scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

10.47 am: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says the coronavirus pandemic must not become an excuse for erosion of human rights.

“We see the disproportionate effects on certain communities, the rise of hate speech, the targeting of vulnerable groups, and the risks of heavy-handed security responses undermining the health response,” he adds. “Against the background of rising ethno-nationalism, populism, authoritarianism and a pushback against human rights in some countries, the crisis can provide a pretext to adopt repressive measures for purposes unrelated to the pandemic. This is unacceptable.”

10.45 am: Sikkim Tourism Minister BS Panth says the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and border trade between India and China through the Nathula pass will not take place this year because of the coronavirus outbreak, reports PTI.

10.43 am: American credit rating agency Fitch Ratings’ has slashed India’s economic growth projections to 0.8% in the current 2020-’21 fiscal, saying an unparalleled global recession was underway due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown, reports PTI.

10.26 am: Punjab has allocated labs for all the 22 districts in the state for coronavirus testing.

10.20 am: Four more tigers and three lions at the Bronx Zoo in New York have tested positive for the coronavirus, National Geographic reports. This comes nearly three weeks after one tiger at the zoo was confirmed to have the virus and six other cats were said to be exhibiting symptoms.

10.12 am: Chhattisgarh Health Minister TS Singh Deo says people should not be under any illusion that the coronavirus will disappear on May 3, when the second phase of the lockdown ends, reports The Hindu.

“The lockdown, at best, can manage to control the spread to some extent, but we should know that the novel coronavirus is not going to go,” he says. “A huge population will get infected with the virus, we should be ready for it. We should learn to live with it.”

10.06 am: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says all member nations of the World Health Organization should support a proposed independent review into the coronavirus pandemic, reports Reuters. “If you’re going to be a member of a club like the World Health Organization, there should be responsibilities and obligations attached to that,” Morrison tells reporters in Canberra.

10 am: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says that the United States has called on China to permanently close its wildlife wet markets, citing links between those markets and zoonotic diseases, reports Reuters.

9.56 am: As many as 20 primary contacts of a 45-day-old infant who died due to the coronavirus have tested negative in Telangana, reports The NewsMinute.

9.53 am: The Indian Council of Medical Research says total 5,00,542 samples have been tested till Thursday 9 am. Of these, 21,797 samples have been confirmed positive.

9.46 am: Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Dilbag Singh claims that Pakistan is pushing militants infected with the coronavirus to spread the disease among the people of the Valley, reports PTI. “Till now, Pakistan had been supporting terrorists and now it is exporting coronavirus patients to infect people of Kashmir,” he says. “This is something on which there is a need to take precaution.”

9.42 am: South Korea records biggest contraction since 2008 in the first quarter due to the coronavirus pandemic, reports Reuters. Gross domestic product decreases by a seasonally adjusted 1.4% in the first quarter from three months earlier, according to central bank data.

9.36 am: The World Bank says that the nationwide lockdown to contain coronavirus spread in India has impacted nearly 40 million internal migrants in the country. The lockdown, which was imposed on March 25 and was supposed to end on April 14, has been extended till May 3.

Read more here: India remittances likely to decline by 23% in 2020, says World Bank

9.33 am: The Indian Council of Medical Research has allowed Maharashtra government to try plasma therapy on coronavirus patients in Mumbai, says Health Minister Rajesh Tope.

9.30 am: First Lady Savita Kovind stitches face masks at Shakti Haat in the President’s Estate as part of efforts to tackle coronavirus spread in the country.

9.16 am: Rajasthan reports 47 fresh cases, says the state health department.

9.03 am: The Delhi government adds Campa Cola street and F-313 and F-274 Lado Sarai under South district to the list of containment zones, reports ANI. The total number of containment zones in the city is now 89.

8.58 am: India’s tally goes up to 21,393, according to the Union health ministry’s Thursday morning update. Of these, 4257 people have recovered while the toll has increased to 681.

8.55 am: President Ram Nath Kovind approves to promulgate The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 that provides stricter punishments for attacks against health workers, reports ANI.

8.51 am: Harvard University announces that it will turn down the $8.7-million federal coronavirus relief.

8.50 am: China reports 27 new asymptomatic coronavirus cases, taking their total to 984.

8.48 pm: All elected representatives in Kerala will take a 30% cut in their monthly salary and honorarium for 1 year, announces the state’s Information and Public Relations Department quoting the chief minister.

8.45 am: The Greater Mumbai’s municipal corporation has asked deans and medical superintendents to extend contract period of their employees.

8.43 am: The World Bank says the nationwide lockdown has impacted nearly 40 million internal migrants. According to its report, the magnitude of internal migration in India is about two-and-a-half times that of international migration. It adds that global remittances are projected to decline sharply by about 20% in 2020 due to the economic crisis induced by the pandemic and shutdown.

8.40 am: The World Health Organisation on Wednesday warned that most countries were still in the early stages of tackling the coronavirus pandemic and that the infection will persist for a long time to come. There were “worrying upward trends” in early epidemics in parts of Africa, Central and South America and Eastern Europe, Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists in a virtual briefing.

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‘Coronavirus will be with us for a long time, remains extremely dangerous,’ says WHO chief

7.42 am: Health authorities say that two cats in New York have become the first pets in the United States to test positive for the new coronavirus but there is no evidence pets can spread the virus to humans, reports Reuters.

7.36 am: Assam government will allow movement of people stranded in different parts of the state for three days from April 25 in accordance with guidelines issued by the home ministry, says health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, reports PTI.

7.35 am: United States President Donald Trump sings an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here: Donald Trump signs executive order suspending immigration to ‘protect’ American workers

7.30 pm: Here are the top updates from Wednesday:

  • The Union Cabinet approved an ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, making acts of violence against healthcare professionals a cognisable and non-bailable offence. The crime may attract imprisonment for a period between six months and seven years.
  • The number of coronavirus patients in India rose to 20,471 after 1,486 cases were reported, according to the health ministry. The toll increased by 49 to 652, while the number of patients who have recovered stood at 3,959.
  • The Indian Medical Association withdrew its symbolic protest against attacks on healthcare professionals after Union Home Minister Amit Shah assured them that the safety and dignity of doctors at their workplace is non-negotiable. IMA members had demanded a special central law against violence on doctors, nurses, healthcare workers and hospitals by an ordinance and to implement it on a priority basis.
  • The West Bengal government said that it will fully cooperate with the Centre’s inter-ministerial team to review the coronavirus situation in the state. The team leaders had alleged that that the ruling Trinamool Congress was not providing them access to some districts.
  • An official from the ministry of civil aviation tested positive for the coronavirus. The employee was present in office on April 15 and was tested positive on April 21, the ministry said in a tweet. All colleagues who came in contact with the official were asked to go into self isolation as a precautionary measure.