11.18 pm: Here are the top Covid-19 updates from Wednesday:

  1. The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 49,391 and the country recorded 1,694 fatalities, according to the figures from the Union health ministry on Wednesday. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu recorded a huge increase in the number of Covid-19 cases. With 1,233 new cases, Maharashtra’s tally went up to 16,758, while Tamil Nadu’s tally went up to 4,829 with 771 new cases.
  2. Civic authorities in Ahmedabad ordered the closure of all shops except those selling milk and medicines for a week. Even stores selling groceries, fruits and vegetables will be closed. Ahmedabad has so far reported 4,425 Covid-19 cases and 273 deaths.
  3. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver a keynote address on Thursday in honour of Covid-19 frontline warriors and the patients who have died of the disease.
  4. Union minister Nitin Gadkari assured transporters that the government will soon make efforts to restart public transport services, which have been suspended since the imposition of the nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic on March 25.
  5. Spain’s recorded 244 Covid-19 deaths, after three straight days of less than 200 reported deaths per day.
  6. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the US was wrong to accuse China of being responsible for the coronavirus outbreak without providing any proof.
  7. Globally, the coronavirus has infected over 37 lakh people and killed more than 2.59 lakh people, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

10.52 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will deliver a keynote address on Thursday in honour of Covid-19 frontline warriors and the patients who have died of the disease.

10.47 pm: Two Chinese companies, which supplied five lakh rapid testing kits for Covid-19, express disappointment over negative reports about their products in India, days after the Indian Council of Medical Research asked the states not to use them over poor quality, PTI reports.

“The ‘field conditions’ were not yet disclosed and as we know, there could be so many factors which impact the exact performance of diagnostic test kits,” , Guongzhou Wondfo Biotech and Livzon Diagnostics said. “The storage and transport temperature condition are the first we need to emphasize, where we noticed in India recently temperature started to rise up.”

10.44 pm: Pune reports 99 new Covid-19 cases and seven deaths, taking the city’s tally to 2,300 and the toll to 127.

10.40 pm: Italy’s biggest nursing home discloses 300 Covid-19 deaths, AP reports. The Trivulzio is just one of many nursing homes under investigation for the deaths during Italy’s outbreak.

10.34 pm: The officials in Ahmedabad order all private hospitals, clinics and nursing homes to open within 48 hours or lose licence, PTI reports.

10.28 pm: Two Air India flights to bring back stranded citizens have been delayed, PTI reports. The flight from Delhi to San Francisco, which was scheduled to take off at 3.30 am on Wednesday, will now leave at the same time on Friday, unidentified officials told the news agency. The flight from Mumbai to London will take off at 6.30 am on Friday instead of Wednesday.

10.26 pm: India donates 30,000 Covid-19 testing kits to Bangladesh, PTI reports. The country has reported 11,719 coronavirus cases and 186 deaths.

10.15 pm: New cases reported today:

Rajasthan: 159 new cases, total rises to 3,317; toll at 93,

Telangana: 11 new cases, total rises to 1,107; toll at 29,

Nagpur: 44 new cases, total rises to 204,

Ahmedabad: 291 new cases, tally rises to 4,735; toll at 298,

Uttar Pradesh: 118 new cases, total cases up to 2,998; toll at 60,

10.06 pm: The number of coronavirus cases in Tripura rise to 64 after 22 BSF soldiers test positive, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb says.

10.04 pm: The number of containment zones in Kolkata rise to 334.

10 pm: Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope says the Centre has permitted the state to use the ICUs of defence and railway hospitals but cautioned that it should be used as the last available option.

9.58 pm: The CRPF headquarters in Delhi reopened today, ANI reports. The building was closed on Saturday after a driver tested positive for the coronavirus. It was then sanitised.

9.23 pm: A special train carrying around 1,030 migrant workers arrives at the Habibganj railway station in Bhopal from Telangana.

9.20 pm: Mumbai’s Covid-19 tally crosses 10,000 with 769 new cases.

9.17 pm: The Delhi High Court refuses to hear a petition seeking a blanket ban on chewing tobacco amid the coronavirus lockdown, saying that the Centre and the AAP government have already issued guidelines to regulate sales to prevent spitting in public, PTI reports.

9.14 pm: The Ministry of Home Affairs rebukes the West Bengal government over its Covid-19 management, says the state has the highest rate of fatalities and low testing numbers.

9.11 pm: The Tripura government says it will test all journalists for Covid-19.

9.08 pm: The Indian Council of Medical Research on Monday approved 21 institutions for participation in a randomised controlled study to assess the safety and efficacy of convalescent plasma therapy to limit complications associated with Covid-19.

9.03 pm: The Border Security Force reports 85 new Covid-19 cases, PTI reports. Officials say 40% of the cases have been reported among soldiers deployed in some parts of old Delhi. With this, the BSF tally rises to 154.

9.00 pm: The Central Reserve Police Force forms a special Covid-19 cell as the number of coronavirus cases among various paramilitary forces nears 400, PTI reports.

8.15 pm: Maharashtra’s Covid-19 tally rises to 16,758 with 1,233 new cases. The toll reaches 651.

8.12 pm: Tamil Nadu reports 771 new cases. The state’s tally reaches 4,829. This is the third consecutive day of huge increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the state.

6.55 pm: India bans the export of alcohol-based sanitisers, ANI reports.

6.38 pm: The Delhi government announces summer vacation for schools from May 11 to June 30, says no student will be called in for any activity in view of the Covid-19 situation.

6.36 pm: The police in Dadra and Nagar Haveli on Tuesday arrested over 100 migrant workers for rioting, PTI reports.

6.34 pm: Tamil Nadu hikes liquor prices by up to Rs 20, PTI reports. The new prices will come into effect from Thursday.

6.26 pm: The civic officials in Ahmedabad order the closure of all shops except those selling milk and medicines from May 7 to 15. The city has reported 4,425 Covid-19 cases and 273 deaths.

6.23 pm: Civil Safety Council of India, a non-governmental organisation, files a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking the closure of liquor shops, PTI reports.

6.21 pm: The Delhi government orders the release of 4,000 Tablighi Jamaat members who have completed their required quarantine period, PTI reports.

6.14 pm: Economists have argued that the central government must not wait for the next census to update the ration coverage. With a pandemic raging, it must send extra food stocks to the states free of cost so they can help people who need them.

Read more: Five weeks of lockdown. Year-long losses. Adivasi villages in MP show why Centre must step up relief

6.10 pm: The Union Health ministry launches ‘Aarogya Setu Interactive Voice Response System’ for users with landline connections.

6.06 pm: A 31-year-old Delhi Police constable dies of Covid-19, PTI reports. This is the first Covid-19 death among the police in the Capital.

6.04 pm: Two police constables in Mumbai’s Kurla suburb test positive for Covid-19, PTI reports.

6.01 pm: Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani asks Union Home Minister Amit Shah to send an expert medical team to Ahmedabad, PTI reports. The city has so far recorded 4,425 Covid-19 cases and 273 deaths.

5.56 pm: Union minister Nitin Gadkari assures transporters that the government will soon make efforts to restart public transport services, which have been suspended since the imposition of the nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus pandemic on March 25.

Read more here:

Covid-19: Public transport may resume soon, says Union minister Nitin Gadkari

5.28 pm: The total number of positive cases in Nepal goes up to 99 after 17 new cases were reported on Wednesday, ANI reports.

5.26 pm: No new cases reported in Kerala, says Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The state has recorded 502 coronavirus cases so far.

5.25 pm: New cases reported today:

Himachal Pradesh: one new cases, active cases rise to three,

Uttar Pradesh: Cases rise to 1,831, toll at 58,

West Bengal: 112 new cases, total rises to 1,456; toll stands at 72,

Karnataka: 20 new cases, total rises to 693; toll stands at 29.

4.48 pm: Uttar Pradesh is increasing liquor prices from between Rs 5 to Rs 400 a bottle, reports PTI. This comes two days after the Delhi government also increased the tax on alcohol by 70%. Analysts say the move was made to deter people from crowding at liquor shops and risking contracting the virus, though the decision also came after the Delhi government said there was a huge dip in revenue earned in April.

4.44 pm: China asks the US to present the “enormous evidence” it claims to have that Beijing manufactured the coronavirus, PTI reports. “He (US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo) said “enormous evidence”. Then show us,” PTI quotes Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying telling a media briefing. “Pompeo cannot present any evidence because he does not have any. This matter should be handled by scientists and professionals instead of politicians out of their domestic political need.”

Hua adds that the World Health Organization has also said that the novel coronavirus could not be man-made.

4.12 pm: Delhi issues guidelines to handle passengers landing at the Capital’s airport after the Centre approved flights for Indians stranded abroad. Here are the instructions, according to News18:

  • Passengers will be quarantined for at least 14 days paid facilities.
  • The New Delhi district magistrate will coordinate with airport authorities for arrangements required for triaging the passengers and at least 20 medical teams will be required for triaging of passengers.
  • The Directorate General of Health Services will provide PPE kits and other consumables.
  • A list of passengers, along with their passport details, should be shared with the Delhi Government Nodal Officer a day in advance.
  • Non-residents of Delhi will be looked after by the resident commissioners of their respective states.

3.58 pm: The Congress also asks the Centre what it plans to do after May 17, when the third phase of the lockdown is set to end. “After May 17th, what? And after May 17th, how?” spokesperson Randeep Surjewala quotes party chief Sonia Gandhi as asking.

Read more: Covid-19: Sonia Gandhi questions Centre’s strategy on lockdown, asks for a plan of action

3.43 pm: The Congress asks the central government to share 75% of the income from the fuel price hike with the states, reports PTI.

3.35 pm: Eighty-five more Border Security Force personnel test positive for the coronavirus, reports ANI. This takes the total number of infected BSF personnel to 154.

3.10 pm: After allegations arose about a security breach in the coronavirus monitoring Aarogya Setu app, Union Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad says it is “absolutely safe”. Rejecting the claims, Prasad tells PTI that it is “safe and secure” and everyone’s data on it is in “an encrypted form”.

“It is a very robust invention of technology and many other countries are using similar applications to fight Covid-19,” he says. “And the second most important point is that the data is limited. Routine data remains for 30 days and in the event you are infected, then (for) 45 to 60 days. Then automatically it will vanish.”

2.46 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi says the fight against the coronavirus is proving to be cause of economic distress for his brothers and sisters in India, and now is not the time to increase taxes on petrol and diesel. He demands that the price hikes are withdrawn.

2.30 pm: After Delhi, Uttar Pradesh increases Value Added Tax on petrol and diesel, reports ANI. The tax on diesel has been increased by Rs 1, and by Rs 2 on petrol. New prices will come into effect at midnight tonight.

2.25 pm: The Ministry of Home Affairs says trucks carrying essentials to Bangladesh have been stopped at different points of the border with West Bengal, reports PTI. The MHA also says truck drivers returning from Bangladesh are not being allowed back into India and that West Bengal stopping movement of international cargo violates orders that have been issued under the Disaster Management Act. The ministry adds that West Bengal has not yet sent a compliance report on the supply of essential goods through the Indo-Nepal, Indo-Bhutan, Indo-Bangla borders.

1.45 pm: A special train, ferrying migrant workers, has left from Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati railway station for Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, reports ANI.

1.42 pm: Taiwan’s health minister has asked the World Health Organization to make sure it gets access to first-hand information on tackling the coronavirus, reports Reuters.

1.39 pm: South Korea has largely gone back to normal functioning amid the coronavirus pandemic, reports AFP. The country has 7,572 coronavirus cases and 148 patients have died, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

1.37 pm: Surfers protest against the lockdown in South Africa, reports AFP.

1.34 pm: Germany plans to reopen all shops and schools and resume the football league in May, reports AFP.

1.30 pm: Haryana has recorded seven new coronavirus cases as of this afternoon, reports ANI. The state’s tally has risen to 555 and six patients have died so far.

1 pm: Non-governmental organisation Civil Safety Council of India has moved a plea in the Delhi High Court, seeking closure of liquor shops in the national Capital, reports ANI. The petition states that the opening of liquor shops is failing the purpose of the nationwide lockdown.

12.57 pm: The Kerala High Court hears a plea on the possible leak of personal details of Covid-19 patients by hospitals, reports ANI. The court has adjourned the matter to May 11.

12.55 pm: In Uttar Pradesh’s Ghazipur village, a crowd gathers outside the home of a Central Reserve Police Force soldier Ashwini Kumar Yadav, who lost his life in a terror attack in Kupwara.

12.37 pm: The Bihar administration has sent out showcause notices to over 350 doctors for not attending work without informing. The state has cancelled all leaves, except maternity, of healthcare workers until May 31.

Read more here:

Coronavirus: Over 350 doctors in Bihar get show-cause notice for missing work without informing

12.35 pm: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan expresses concern about the coronavirus situation in Maharashtra as 34 out of 36 districts are affected, reports ANI. “I will hold a meeting with the chief minister as well to discuss further course of action to control spread of the virus in state,” he adds.

12.32 pm: Karnataka reports 19 new coronavirus cases between 5 pm on Tuesday and 12 pm on Wednesday, reports ANI. The overall confirmed cases in the state stand at 692, including 29 deaths and 345 recoveries.

12.15 pm: Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa says his administration has helped nearly one lakh people return to their homes in 3,500 buses and trains. “A package of Rs 1,610 crores will be released as Covid-19 financial package,” he adds, according to ANI. “One-time compensation of Rs 5,000 will be given to 2,30,000 barbers and 7,75,000 drivers.”

12.05 pm: People in Telangana’s Warangal Urban district wait in queues outside liquor shops, reports ANI.

12 pm: Congress chief Sonia Gandhi enquires about the Centre’s plan after lockdown ends on May 17, reports ANI. “What criteria is the government of India using to judge how long the lockdown is to continue,” she asks during a meeting of chief ministers of Congress-ruled states.

11.51 am: Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation chief Praveen Pardeshi has authorised assistant municipal commissioners in the city to take over any private hospital under their jurisdiction, reports The Times of India.

11.48 am: Punjab’s Chief Minister Amarinder Singh criticises the Centre over classification of Covid-19 zones “without knowing ground reality”, reports PTI.

11.45 am: The Karnataka government has written to the South Western Railway, asking it to cancel all special trains from Wednesday.

Also read:

Coronavirus: Karnataka cancels special trains for migrant workers after meeting with builders

11.40 am: Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot says until an extensive stimulus package is provided, it will be difficult to run states and the country. “We lost Rs 10,000 crore revenue,” he says, accordimng to PTI at a Congres chief ministers’ meeting.

11.34 am: Former Prime Minister and senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh asks what will happen after the third phase of the nationwide lockdown ends, reports PTI.

11.31 am: The Indian government has responded to ethical hacker Elliot Alderson’s concerns that the “privacy of 90 million Indians is at stake” due to the mobile application launched by Narendra Modi’s government.

Read more here:

No data or security breach in Aarogya Setu app, says Centre after hacker raises concern

11.25 am: In Haryana’s Gurugram, people line up outside the alcohol stores.

11.22 am: Delhi’s total number of coronavirus cases stands at 5,104, out of which 206 have been found on Tuesday, reports ANI. A total of 1,468 people have recovered and 17 patients are on ventilator. Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain says the doubling rate in the national Capital is now 11 days.

11.17 am: Andhra Pradesh reports 60 new Covid-19 cases and two deaths today, reports ANI. This takes the state’s tally to 1,777. Of these, 1,012 are being treated and 729 have been discharged so far. The state’s toll stands at 36.

10.17 am: Visuals of people outside liquor shops in Hyderabad, Delhi and Haryana.

10.15 am: The Narendra Modi government says there is no security breach in coronavirus tracking app Aarogya Setu. This came after Elliot Alderson, the hacker who exposed flaws with the Aadhaar app, warned that the “privacy of 90 million Indians is at stake”.

The app is meant to alert users if they have come in contact with a Covid-19 positive patient, and what measures they need to take in case that happens. But cybersecurity experts worry that Aarogya Setu could violate its users’ privacy and be a surveillance tool in the hands of the government.

10.06 am: Rajasthan records 35 new Covid-19 cases and one death, reports ANI. The state has 3,193 cases so far and the toll risen to 90.

10.05 am: China reports two new coronavirus cases and 20 new asymptomatic cases, according to Reuters. The total number of coronavirus cases now stands at 82,883, while the toll remains unchanged at 4,633.

9.28 am: Top US health official Anthony Fauci will appear before a panel in the Republican-controlled Senate next week to examine the country’s coronavirus response, reports Reuters. However, he cannot not testify before the Democratic-led House of Representatives.

9.19 am: The Centre has increased the excise duty by a record Rs 13 for every litre of diesel and Rs 10 per litre of petrol in an attempt to shore up revenue as demand remains subdued due to the nationwide lockdown to rein in the coronavirus pandemic.

Read more here: Centre raises excise duty on petrol by Rs 10 per litre, diesel by Rs 13

9.15 am: The country recorded 2,958 coronavirus cases and 126 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the figures from the health ministry.

9.09 am: The health ministry has updated its coronavirus figures. India now has 49,391 cases and the toll has risen to 1,694. Meanwhile, 14,182 patients have recovered from the infection.

8.15 am: The total number of coronavirus cases in Delhi has crossed the 5,000-mark after 206 more people tested positive in the last 24 hours, reports PTI. The Capital now has 5,104 cases and 1,468 patients have recovered so far.

8.05 am: Assam government has announced a list of relaxations during the lockdown to rein in the coronavirus pandemic, reports NDTV.

Here is the list:

  • All industries along with their supply chain are allowed to operate in the state without the need for any specific order. All personnel working will be allowed to commute to work at any time.  
  • Tea industries and workers engaged are allowed to operate at all times.
  • Warehouses are allowed to operate and workers required for their operation are allowed to commute at all times.
  • All activities related to public distribution system, Food Corporation of India warehouses, Railways, LPG and Petroleum delivery and workers and staff engaged in these services are allowed to operate at all times.
  • E-commerce delivery is allowed between 6 am and 6 pm only, however, back-end activities and personnel engaged there are allowed at all times.
  • All automobile dealerships and outlets are allowed to operate between 6 am and 6 pm.

8 am: The Karnataka government has decided that no more trains will be run to ferry migrant labourers from the state to other parts of the country amid the nationwide lockdown. “Directions were given to the ministers to convince the labourers to refrain from returning to their home states,” Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa tweets.

7.57 am: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has directed that returnees from Gujarat’s Surat city should be transported to the state only through trains after taking note of the bus accidents, reports PTI.

7.55 am: United States President Donald Trump has conceded that more Americans will die in the process to reopen the economy, but at the same time he refused to wear a mask during his tour of a factory manufacturing them, reports AFP.

7.52 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has reviewed the status of India’s efforts in developing a coronavirus vaccine in his meeting with the special task force, reports PTI. The task force was created to meet the challenges posed by the outbreak and the prime minister took note of the “extraordinary coming together” of academia, industry and government.

7.45 am: Here are the top updates from Tuesday:

  1. India’s tally rose to 46,711 coronavirus cases and 1,583 deaths in the health ministry’s evening update. Of these, 31,967 people are being treated, 13,160 patients have recovered and one person has left the country.
  2. Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao announced that the lockdown in Telangana will extend till May 29. The state has reported 1,096 cases so far.
  3. Non-essential outlets such as liquor and paan shops in Mumbai will be shut from Wednesday. Only essential items, such as groceries and medicines, will be available. The city’s count of coronavirus cases rose to 9,758 during the day, and Maharashtra’s tally went up to 15,525. Maharashtra also declared a freeze on new capital works till March next year.  
  4. The government will send 64 flights to bring stranded Indians back from different countries between May 7 and 13. Since the passengers will be paying for the journey, the government has fixed ticket prices.
  5. The Border Security Force closed two floors at its headquarters in New Delhi, a day after a head constable tested positive for the coronavirus. Shastri Bhavan, another prominent building in Delhi, was also sealed after a law ministry official tested positive.
  6. The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy said that India’s unemployment rate hit 27.1% for the week ended May 3. This is higher than the 23.8% unemployment rate recorded during the last week of March, when the nationwide lockdown was imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic.