11.15 pm: Here are today’s top updates:

  • The central government on Thursday started the evacuation process of Indians stranded abroad during the coronavirus pandemic. The first flight carrying stranded Indian citizens from Abu Dhabi landed in Kochi around 10 pm. Another flight is on its way. The Indian Navy INS Jalashwa entered the Male harbour in Maldives on Thursday morning, and 1,000 people are planned to be brought back to India during the first trip.
  • The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 52,952 and the country recorded 1,783 fatalities, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday. Maharashtra has recorded the highest number with 16,758 cases so far and 651 deaths. More than 100 people tested positive in Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail on Thursday. Gujarat has 6,625 cases and 65 fatalities.
  • Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday passed an ordinance prescribing a maximum punishment of life term to anyone who intentionally infects another person with the coronavirus, thereby leading to their death. It also exempted businesses from the scope of all but four labour laws for the next three years to boost investments hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Ministry of Finance has asked central ministries and departments to release funds under centrally sponsored schemes on a “need basis”, and not as per entitlements of states.
  • The World Health Organization said an average of 80,000 Covid-19 cases were reported each day in April, and South Asian nations such as India and Bangladesh are seeing a spike in infections. The health agency added that the numbers are declining in regions such as Western Europe.
  • The Orissa High Court on Thursday ordered that migrant workers stranded in other parts of the country due to the nationwide lockdown should test negative for the coronavirus before entering the state. However, it is not yet clear who will pay for the tests.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping warned people against complacency, as China downgraded coronavirus risk levels in all regions amid a decline in the number of cases. China has so far recorded 83,970 cases and 4,637 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
  • Globally, the coronavirus has infected over 37.84 lakh people and killed more than 2.64 lakh people, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.

10.40 pm: Delhi reports 448 new cases, taking the total positive cases to 5,980. The toll rises to 66.

10.38 pm: The number of containment zones in Delhi reduces to 83.

10.35 pm: Mumbai reports 692 new cases, PTI reports. This takes the city’s coronavirus tally to 11,219. The toll in the city reaches 437.

10.30 pm: First flight of evacuated Indians lands in Kochi. As many as 177 people travelled from Abu Dhabi.

10.08 pm: Jharkhand has 132 coronavirus cases and three deaths, ANI reports.

10.05 pm: The government of Rajasthan increases VAT on petr

10 pm: Uttarakhand Cabinet increases price of petrol by Rs 2 and diesel by Rs 1. The prices of Indian Made Foreign Liquor bottles have gone up between Rs 20 to Rs 200, while that of overseas liquor has increased by Rs 475 per bottle. Indian liquor rates have increased by Rs 20 per bottle, ANI reports.

9.55 pm: In Mumbai’s Arthur Road prison, 77 inmates and 26 police personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus, ANI reports, citing Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.

9.50 pm: New cases reported today:

Rajasthan: 110 new cases, total rises to 3427; toll stands at 99,

Telangana: 15 new cases, total up to 1,122; toll rises to 29.

9.45 pm: ICMR expands the list of private labs performing coronavirus tests in Delhi from eight to 13, ANI reports.

9.40 pm: The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet has cleared an ordinance that exempts businesses from most labour laws for the next three years, Business Standard reports.

8.56 pm: The United Kingdom announces five more flights to bring home British citizens stranded in India, with four flights scheduled between Amritsar and London and one from Ahmedabad to London next week, PTI reports.

8.54 pm: Madhya Pradesh’s Covid-19 tally rises to 3,252 with 114 new cases.

8.52 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of the European Council Charles Michel discuss the situation arising out of the coronavirus pandemic.

8.49 pm: The Indian Railways says it will deploy over 2,500 doctors and 35,000 paramedics at its coaches-turned-coronavirus care centres.

8.46 pm: The World Tourism Organization says the number of international tourist arrivals could plunge by 60 to 80% in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to AFP.

8.44 pm: Moscow extends lockdown till May 31, AFP reports.

8.42 pm: Gujarat reports 88 new Covid-19 cases. The state’s tally rises to 7,013.

8.20 pm: Maharashtra’s Covid-19 tally rises to 18,120 with 1,362 new cases.

8.10 pm: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan says 13 states and Union Territories, including Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir, have not reported any new case of Covid-19 since Wednesday morning, PTI reports. He adds that 3,561 new coronavirus cases have been reported and 1,084 patients have recovered since Wednesday morning. The minister says India’s recovery rate is now 28.83%.

8.06 pm: Over 70 inmates at the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai test positive for Covid-19, PTI reports, quoting Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh.

8.04 pm: Over 170 Indian citizens leave for Kozhikode in Kerala from Dubai.

8.01 pm: The police in Uttarakhand’s Rudrapur district file a case against Congress leader Tilak Raj Behad for holding a public meeting in violation of lockdown guidelines, PTI reports.

7.58 pm: An inspector posted at the Delhi Police Special Cell office in Lodhi Colony tests positive for Covid-19, ANI reports.

7.56 pm: Mumbai’s Dharavi slum reports 50 new Covid-19 cases, according to ANI. The area’s tally rises to 783.

7.50 pm: The Delhi government launches an e-token system for liquor sales to stop crowding outside shops.

7.44 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh urges Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clearly define the plan to rebuild the economy and the strategy to exit the nationwide lockdown.

7.40 pm: Over 70 buses carry migrant workers to the New Delhi railway station to board the first Shramik special train from the Capital to Madhya Pradesh, PTI reports.

7.35 pm: The World Health Organization issues specific guidelines for the rational use of personal protective equipment among frontline medical staff amid complaints about shortage, Reuters reports.

7.29 pm: West Bengal reports 92 new Covid-19 cases. The state’s tally rises to 1,548.

Image tweeted by ANI

7.22 pm: The Institute of Nuclear Medicines and Allied Sciences certifies personal protective equipment designed by the Indian Navy for clinical use and mass-production.

7.20 pm: Over 51,000 stranded migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh have reached the state in 43 Shramik trains since the special service was started last week, officials tell PTI.

7.17 pm: Thirty-seven Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel test positive for Covid-19 in Delhi, ANI reports.

7.14 pm: An association of wine merchants and liquor shop owners in Maharashtra’s Nagpur city file a petition in the Bombay High Court, seeking cancellation of the order restricting sale of alcohol in the city, PTI reports.

7.11 pm: Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren says nearly three lakh people from the state, stranded in various parts of the country, have registered to return home, PTI reports. He says the government will make all efforts to bring them back safely.

7.07 pm: The first of the two flights from the United Arab Emirates, carrying stranded Indian citizens, takes off for Kochi.

7.03 pm: More than 500 Maharashtra police personnel have tested positive for Covid-19 so far, officials tell PTI.

7.00 pm: A batch of 1,168 migrant workers arrives in Bhopal from Panvel city in Maharashtra, PTI reports.

6.47 pm: The Gujarat government says it has sent 80,000 migrant workers home on 67 special trains in the last five days, PTI reports.

6.43 pm: A Central Industrial Security Force head constable posted at the Mumbai airport dies of Covid-19, ANI reports.

6.40 pm: Twenty-six employees of a pharmaceuticals manufacturing plant in Ahmedabad test positive for Covid-19.

6.39 pm: Punjab reports 118 new Covid-19 cases. The state’s tally reaches 1,644.

6.33 pm: Tamil Nadu’s Covid-19 tally crosses the 5,000-mark with 580 new cases. This is the fourth consecutive day of a huge increase in the state’s Covid-19 cases.

6.22 pm: Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal announces that the Joint Entrance Examination – Advanced will be held on August 23.

6.19 pm: Nearly 3.2 million workers in the United States seek jobless aid, raising total layoffs to 33 million, AP reports.

6.16 pm: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari says the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector is on the verge of collapse, PTI reports He urges major industries to release the outstanding dues to such companies within a month.

6.14 pm: Passengers at the boarding gate of the Abu Dhabi Airport prepare to board a flight to Kochi.

6.09 pm: The Odisha government restrains the entry of migrant workers without a negative test report for Covid-19.

6.01 pm: Karnataka’s Covid-19 tally rises to 705 with 12 new cases, ANI reports.

5.59 pm: The Odisha government declares Ganjam district as a Covid-19 red zone, ANI reports . Jagatsinghpur and Mayurbhanj districts are orange zones. Odisha reports 21 new Covid-19 cases.

5.56 pm: Chandigarh reports 15 new Covid-19 cases. The Union Territory’s tally rises to 135.

5.53 pm: Indian citizens in Dubai are about to board a flight to Kerala’s Kozhikode city.

5.51 pm: A police inspector and five members of his family test positive for Covid-19 in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad city, PTI reports.

5.48 pm: The Indian Council for Medical Research rejects the Jal Shakti Ministry’s proposal to undertake clinical studies for treatment of Covid-19 patients with Ganga water, PTI reports.

Dr YK Gupta, who is chairing the committee for Evaluation of Research Proposals at ICMR, says the evidence and data available at the moment is not strong enough to start the clinical studies.

5.45 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray holds an all-party meeting on Covid-19 via video conference.

5.42 pm: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan says no new cases have been reported in the state on Thursday, ANI reports.

5.41 pm: A group of migrant workers in Haryana’s Rohtak city leaves for Jhansi in Uttar Pradesh.

5.36 pm: The Madras High Court dismisses a public interest litigation seeking to allow convicts serving jail terms to assist the government in efforts to control the spread of Covid-19, PTI reports.

5.34 pm: With several hundred Covid-19 cases recently detected and numerous deaths in Dharavi, India’s most romanticised informal settlement is in the news again, with news reports referring to it as a “ticking time bomb”. The case of Dharavi is a reminder of the millions of migrants – not just in India, but globally – who move to cities in the hope of better lives but live in subhuman conditions.

Read more: From Dharavi to Sao Paulo’s favelas, a Covid-19 response must engage the communities that live there

5.29 pm: Bangladesh allows Muslims to attend prayer congregations in mosques as the government eases certain lockdown restrictions, PTI reports. The country has reported 12,425 Covid-19 cases so far.

5.27 pm: Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma says the state’s first Covid-19 patient has been discharged from a hospital.

5.25 pm: India’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Pavan Kapoor speaks to citizens who are being brought back on special planes.

5.22 pm: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation forms a committee to investigate a widely-circulated video showing bodies kept next to the patients at the city’s Sion Hospital, ANI reports.

5.18 pm: The Indian Railways says it is ready to provide 5,231 coaches to be uses as Covid-19 care centres in 215 stations across the country.

5.07 pm: The Dalai Lama says the world must face the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic through a global, coordinated effort, PTI reports.

A file photo of Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama. (PTI)

5.05 pm: Pakistan’s Covid-19 tally crosses 24,000 with 1,523 new infections, PTI reports. The toll rises to 564 with 38 new deaths.

5.00 pm: The police in Gujarat’s Anand district arrest 71 people for disrupting the cremation of a man who died of the coronavirus.

Read more: Gujarat: 71 arrested in Anand district after locals protest cremation of coronavirus patient

4.56 pm: The Indian Railways says it has operated 163 Shramik Special trains since May 1 and transported over 1.60 lakh migrant workers to their native places, PTI reports.

4.54 pm: The police in Noida arrest two staff members of a private hospital for sexually assaulting a Covid-19 patient, PTI reports.

4.50 pm: Dr Randeep Guleria, the director of All India Institute Of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, says Covid-19 infections are likely to reach their peak in June-July, ANI reports.

4.48 pm: Indian Consulate officials help passengers at the Dubai airport.

4.46 pm: Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla ask secretary generals of both Houses to explore if parliamentary committee meetings can be held through video conference, PTI reports. This comes in view of demands from various members of Parliament for holding such meetings through video conference amid the nationwide lockdown.

4.44 pm: Uttar Pradesh reports 61 new Covid-19 cases, PTI reports. The state’s tally rises to 3,059.

4.39 pm: The Indian Council of Medical Research approves a low-priced Covid-19 testing kit designed by a group of researchers in West Bengal, PTI reports.

Priced around Rs 500, the device has demonstrated a near-100% accuracy in detecting the virus in a short span of 90 minutes, the ICMR said in a report, according to the news agency.

4.37 pm: Spain reports about 200 new Covid-19 fatalities, taking the total toll just over 26,000 since the start of the outbreak, AP reports. This is down from over 900 deaths a day a month before.

4.32 pm: A video showing a municipal worker in Lucknow spraying a boy with a bleach-and-water disinfectant emerged on social media on Thursday. A similar incident took place in Bareilly district in Uttar Pradesh in March, when migrants returning to the district were made to sit in a group and sprayed with bleach.

Read more:

Lucknow: Video shows boy being sprayed with bleach-based disinfectant outside railway station

4.31 pm: A video shot inside a ward at the municipality-run Sion hospital in Mumbai shows bodies wrapped in black plastic bags lying next to patients who are being treated for the coronavirus. The video was widely shared on social media on Wednesday.

Read more here:

Mumbai: Video shows bodies next to coronavirus patients at Sion hospital

4.25 pm: The police in Himachal Pradesh stop former Punjab Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini at border after he tries to enter the state without a curfew pass, PTI reports.

4.17 pm: Four Covid-19 patients in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city recover after plasma therapy, PTI reports.

“According to the protocol set by the Indian Council of Medical Research for the plasma therapy, we had started clinical trial on a woman and three male patients aged 23, 40 and 55 years from April 26,” Dr Ravi Dosi from the Sri Aurobindo Institute of Medical Science says. “Now all four patients are free of COVID-19 infection.”

4.13 pm: Ten people test positive for Covid-19 in Noida. The district’s tally rises to 202.

4.02 pm: The Karnataka government decides to resume special train services for migrant workers stranded in the state. The government sent letters of request to several states seeking their consent to operate trains for stranded labourers, tourists, students, pilgrims and “other persons”.

3.58 pm: Forest rights groups, researchers and experts urge the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to take urgent steps to support tribals and other traditional forest dwellers affected due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. They say the Centre is yet to announce a comprehensive Covid-19 response plan to help these communities during the crisis.

Read full story here:

Covid-19: Ensure healthcare to protect tribals, forest dwellers amid crisis, experts tell Centre

3.48 pm: London Mayor Sadiq Khan calls for a record of a person’s ethnicity on all death certificates to “expose the disproportionate effect” that Covid-19 and other illnesses have on the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, PTI reports.

3.41 pm: The Uttar Pradesh government lifts the ban on “paan masala” which does not contain nicotine and tobacco, PTI reports. The order clarifies that the ban on manufacturing, storage and sale of “gutka or paan masala” with nicotine and tobacco will continue.

3.38 pm: A private medical lab in Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, has been banned from conducting Covid-19 tests after a person declared positive by them tested negative for the disease at a government hospital in Lucknow, PTI reports.

3.37 pm: Nearly three lakh people from Jharkhand, mostly labourers, stranded in various states have registered to return home, Chief Minister Hemant Soren says, according to PTI. “They will be brought back without any ifs and buts,” he adds.

3.35 pm: Two Border Security Force personnel die of Covid-19 infection, PTI reports. Another 41 personnel test positive for the virus.

3.30 pm: The Karnataka government decides to resume special train services for migrant workers stranded in the state, The Quint reports. The government sent letters of request to several states seeking their consent to operate trains for stranded labourers, tourists, students, pilgrims and “other persons”.

3.20 pm: Indians rescued from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Malaysia will be housed in the quarantine facilities maintained by three Services – army, navy and air force – in Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bhopal, Kochi, Visakhapatnam and Chennai, the defence ministry adds.

3.17 pm: Indian Armed Forces have dispatched naval ships with medical teams and aid supplies to several countries in the Indian Ocean Region to bring back stranded Indians, the defence ministry says, according to ANI.

3.14 pm: Rajasthan reports 45 more coronavirus cases, ANI reports, quoting state health department’s figures. The total number of cases in the state is now 3,400 with 95 deaths.

3.10 pm: Pavan Kapoor, Ambassador of India to United Arab Emirates says the process of evacuating Indian citizens stranded in the country has begun, reports ANI.

3.07 pm: The Delhi High Court orders the release of a convict suffering from a serious mental illness for 45 days, observing that he is more vulnerable to Covid-19 while in prison, PTI reports.

2.50 pm: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan announces several measures to boost the state economy amid the pandemic, ANI reports. “Shops used to remain open from 8am to 10 pm earlier,” he says. “[However], we have made amendments to the Establishment act... shops can now stay open from 6am to midnight.”

2.43 pm: Over 3,400 migrant workers reach Uttar Pradesh from various parts of the country by special trains, PTI reports.

2.39 pm: Singapore reports 741 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections in the country to 20,939, PTI reports.

2.29 pm: Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh says 487 policemen have tested positive for coronavirus in the state ever since the nationwide lockdown came into force.

2.26 pm: Himachal Pradesh reports one more case of the coronavirus, taking the total tally in the state to 47, PTI reports. The woman who tested positive had recently lost her 21-year-old son to Covid-19, Mandi Chief Medical Officer Jeevanand Chauhan says.

2.22 pm: The civic body in Maharashtra’s Thane city deploys marshals in slums and congested localities to ensure proper enforcement of the lockdown, PTI reports.

1.57 pm: An undertrial and two prison guards have tested positive for Covid-19 at Mumbai Central Prison, The Indian Express reports. As many as 150 others, including over 15 staffers and senior prison officials who came in contact with them have undergone tests, Inspector General (Prisons) Deepak Pandey tells the newspaper.

1.53 pm: Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal condoles the death of a Delhi Police constable because of the coronavirus and says his family will be provided with an ex-gratia of Rs one crore.

1.44 pm: An inmate at the Agra Central Jail tests positive for the coronavirus, ANI reports. Fourteen others who came in contact with him have been quarantined.

1.35 pm: Two more patients die of Covid-19 in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, taking the toll in the district to 83, PTI reports. Chief Medical and Health Officer Praveen Jadia says with 18 more people testing positive for the virus, the total tally of cases there is now 1,699. Indore is the worst-affected region in the state.

1.27 pm: A group of 130 pilgrims who were staying at a Gurudwara in Manmad area of Nashik, Maharashtra, have been sent back to Punjab in buses, ANI reports. All pilgrims were screened and will be quarantined for 14 days on their arrival to Punjab.

1.21 pm: All visas for foreign nationals and the OCI card for Indians who are not in the country, remain suspended till the restrictions on international travel are not lifted, the Indian embassy in the United States says, according to PTI. However, for all foreign nationals in US whose visas have expired can apply for their visa extension without any additional fee, it adds.

1.20 pm: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar says he spoke with his Japanese counterpart to discuss the return of Indians stranded there, ANI reports. During the meeting, the also leaders dwelled upon the economic recovery challenges the pandemic poses, he adds. “Our Indo-Pacific partnership will be more important in the coming days.”

12.54 pm: In Andhra Pradesh, 56 new cases and two more deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, ANI reports quoting the state health department’s figures. The total tally of Covid-19 cases in the state is now 1,833 with 38 deaths.

12.53 pm: About 250 police officers test positive for the coronavirus in Mumbai, says Mumbai Commissioner of Police Param Bir Singh, according to ANI. “The number of symptomatic cases is low and none of them are in the intensive care unit,” he adds.

12.52 pm: The first Air India flight to bring back Indians stranded in Abu Dhabi takes off from Kochi in Kerala, ANI reports.

12.16 pm: Food delivery company Zomato aims to branch out into delivering alcohol, according to Reuters, as it seeks to cash in on the high demand for alcohol during the countrywide lockdown.

12.13 pm: A man in his thirties in Srinagar dies of Covid-19 in a hospital, taking the toll in Jammu and Kashmir to nine, PTI reports.

12.09 pm: The police of Kerala resort to baton-charging in Koothattukulam area of Ernakulam district to disperse a crowd of migrant workers who were protesting they be sent back to their homes, ANI reports.

11.56 am: Odisha reports the largest single-day rise in the number of coronavirus cases after 20 people test positive, PTI reports. With these new cases, the total number of people infected in the state is now 205.

11.54 am: Chinese President Xi Jinping warns people against complacency, as China downgrades COVID-19 risk levels in all regions amid a decline in the number of cases, PTI reports.

11.49 am: Migrant workers walk along the Mumbai-Nashik Highway towards their villages in various states, ANI reports. “I do not have money,” Preeti Kumar, a worker who is on her way to Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh, says. “How will I feed my children here?”

11.46 am: Universities in the United Kingdom urge Indian students to get in touch with their varsity support services if they need help or guidance during the lockdown, irrespective of whether they are in Britain or India, PTI reports.

11.42 am: The INS Jalashwa reaches Male port for the first phase of repatriating Indian citizens stranded in Maldives, ANI reports.

11.35 am: An average of 80,000 Covid-19 cases were reported each day in April, says the World Health Organisation, according to PTI. The health agency says that South Asian nations such as India and Bangladesh are seeing a spike in infections, while the numbers are declining in regions such as Western Europe.

11.22 am: The number of cases in Delhi rises to 5,532, says health minister Satyendra Jain, according to ANI. Out of these, 428 cases were reported yesterday. The doubling rate of Covid-19 in the Capital is 11 days, he adds.

11.20 am: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath holds a review meeting on the coronavirus situation in the state with chairpersons of 11 committees, ANI reports.

11.19 am: The Mizoram government quarantines over 150 people who returned to the state without informing the state authorities, PTI reports. These people came back from Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura, an unidentified home department official says.

10.56 am: A 58-year-old assistant sub-inspector of police dies of Covid-19 in Maharashtras Solapur district, PTI reports.

10.49 am: The International Monetary Fund approves a disbursement to Nepal of about $214 million to help the country cover the urgent balance of payments and fiscal needs stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, PTI reports.

10.47 am: DMK chief MK Stalin protests outside his residence in Chennai against the government’s decision to allow state-run liquor stores to open from today, ANI reports. However, the exemption does not apply to containment zones in the state.

10.40 am: Bhalla says his observations were based on the reports submitted by the two inter-ministerial central teams that recently visited West Bengal to monitor whether coronavirus measures are being implemented properly.

10.36 am: The Union Home Ministry attacks the West Bengal government for not enforcing Covid-19 containment measures effectively by allowing “specific groups in specific localities” in Kolkata and Howrah to violate the curbs, as well as attack police and healthcare workers.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla in a letter to the government flags the plying of rickshaws, children playing cricket, and people bathing in rivers among the violations.

10.26 am: Migrant workers stranded in Bengaluru, Karnataka, tell The Indian Express that all these companies [in the state] are worried that once we leave, there will be no one to do their work. “Par humne unka theka le rakha hai kya (However, are they our responsibility),” Rishi, a worker from Bihar ,tells the newspaper.

The Karnataka government on Tuesday announced that no more trains will be run to ferry migrant workers stranded.

10.16 am: The Civil Aviation Ministry’s website crashes as panicked Indian citizens stranded abroad rushed to register for a repatriation from 12 countries on planes and naval ships, AFP reports.

10.13 am: People start queuing up outside a liquor shop in Thiruvallur in Tamil Nadu early in the morning, after the state government granted permission to state-run alcohol shops to resume operations from today, ANI reports.

10.11 am: Rajasthan reports 38 new coronavirus cases with two more deaths, ANI reports, quoting health department figures. The state now has 3,355 cases with 95 deaths.

10.03 am: The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet clears the Public Health and Epidemic Disease Control Ordinance, 2020. The ordinance prescribes a maximum punishment of life term if “death be caused by intentional Covid-19 affliction”, The Indian Express reports. Section 25 of the ordinance defines “mass affliction” as infecting five or more persons.

9.58 am: As many as 950 bottles of country liquor kept in the strong room of a police station in Mihona district of Madhya Pradesh have gone missing, PTI reports. Two policemen have been suspended and an investigation is underway.

9.56 am: Over 2 lakh bottles of liquor have gone missing from a godown in Haryana’s Sonipat district, PTI reports. The state government sets up a three-member special investigation team to probe into the incident.

9.53 am: India is projected to record the highest number of births in the 9 months since the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, with more than 20 million babies expected to be born between March and December, says the United Nations Children’s Fund, according to PTI.

9.47 am: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s spokesperson tests positive for the coronavirus, AFP reports. Army General Otavio Rego Barros, 59, “is home following all recommended protocols” after his positive test result was confirmed on Tuesday, the president’s office says in a statement.

9.38 am: A special train for about 1,200 migrant workers will leave from Delhi for Madhya Pradesh today, ANI says, quoting the Delhi government. This is the first such train to embark from the Capital.

9.21 am: “Buddha is the symbol of self realisation of India,” Modi says. “With this self realisation, India is working in the interest of humanity and the world, and will continue to do so.” The prime minister is addressing the nation on the occasion of Buddha Purnima.

9.20 am: “India is constantly working to help other countries across the globe and will continue to do the same.” Modi says. “All of us have to fight together to defeat coronavirus.”

9.15 am: “Today, India stands firmly in support of everyone who are in need or in trouble in the country or the world, without any discrimination,” Modi says.

9.13 am: “In these difficult times, a lot of people around us are working round-the-clock to help others , to cure infected persons and to maintain law and order during the lockdown,” Modi says. “All of them deserve appreciation and honour.”

9 am: The number of coronavirus cases in the country rises to 52,952, the Ministry of Health’s figures show. So far, there are 1,793 deaths recorded due to the virus.

8.47 am: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India is doing everything it can to save lives during the pandemic. Modi is addressing the public on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. “Many people have imbibed Buddha’s teachings,” he says. “People have come out to help those in need. I salute those making such efforts.”

8.28 am: The World Health Organization warns against ending lockdowns too early and said restrictions must be lifted “extremely carefully”.

8.27 am: Narendra Modi today will give a speech honouring Covid-19 frontline workers and victims.

8.15 am: US President Donald Trump says the coronavirus “attack” is worse than Pearl Harbour and 9/11, Fox News reports. The country has 73,418 deaths due to the virus so far, while 2,403 people died at Pearl Harbour and 2,977 died in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“There’s never been an attack like this,” he says. “And it never should have happened. It could’ve been stopped at the source, it should’ve been stopped at the source. It should’ve been stopped in China.”

8.10 am: Delhi records its largest rise in the number of coronavirus cases, PTI reports. Late on Wednesday, the Capital recorded 428 new cases, taking its total to 5,532.

8.03 am: Maharashtra asks 25,000 private doctors to enlist for Covid-19 duty, reports NDTV. The number of cases in the state shot up on Wednesday to 16,758. Mumbai alone has more than 10,000 cases.

8 am: Air India opens bookings for flights plying between May 8 and May 14, reports Hindustan Times. The flights will carry a limited number of passengers who meet certain eligibility criteria to destinations including Singapore, London and cities in the US and will bring back Indians stranded abroad.

Thursday’s flights include ones from Kochi to Abu Dhabi, Delhi to Singapore, and Calicut to Dubai, the report adds.

Hundreds of hotel rooms have been booked in Delhi to quarantine passengers returning on these flights to the Capital, IANS reports. The passengers will be quarantined for 14 days.