Maharashtra on Thursday reported a massive surge of 1,602 new coronavirus cases and the state’s tally reached 27,524. The total number of fatalities breached the 1,000-mark and stood at 1,019.
Earlier in the day, the Centre announced that about eight crore migrant workers, irrespective of whether they have ration cards, will get free foodgrains for the next two months. It has also planned to introduce an affordable housing scheme for urban poor and migrant workers. The announcements, made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, were part of the second tranche of the Centre’s economic rescue package of Rs 20 lakh crore. It focussed on migrant workers, street vendors, small traders, the self-employed and small farmers.
The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 78,003 on Wednesday morning and toll stood at 2,549. The country recorded 3,722 cases and 134 deaths in the last 24 hours. Globally, Covid-19 has infected more than 43.99 lakh people and claimed 2.99 lakh lives, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
The national helpline number for the coronavirus is 011-23978046, and a toll-free number 1075.
11 pm: Here are the day’s top updates.
10.30 pm: The Congress on Thursday criticised the government for allocating just Rs 3,500 crore to provide relief to migrant labourers, who are affected by the nationwide lockdown implemented to curb the coronavirus pandemic. In a video briefing, Congress leader Manish Tewari said the paltry allocation shows that the Narendra Modi-led government is a “suit boot ki sarkar”.
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10 pm: The Haryana government tells the Delhi High Court that people engaged in essential services will be allowed to move between Delhi and Haryana if they produce e-passes during the ongoing lockdown. Trucks carrying essential and non-essential goods will also be allowed, the government says, according to PTI.
9.47 pm: The Ministry of Home Affairs allows states and Union territories to hire special buses to transport passengers arriving at train stations across the country as there is no public transport available due to lockdown restrictions.
9.40 pm: Rajasthan reports 206 new positive cases and four deaths, taking the total number of positive cases to 4,534 and deaths to 125, ANI reports.
9.20 pm: United Nations chief Antonio Guterres says the Covid-19 crisis in increasing “psychological suffering” and calls for countries to commit to addressing mental health problems that arise due to the pandemic, PTI reports.
“Mental health is at the core of our humanity. It enables us to lead rich and fulfilling lives and to participate in our communities,” Guterres says. “But the Covid-19 virus is not only attacking our physical health; it is also increasing psychological suffering,”
9.10 pm: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu says his government won’t seek special trains to return people of the state stranded in other parts of the country, PTI reports. “It does not mean that we are not ready to bring them back,” Khandu says. “We will do so depending upon the quarantine facilities available here. I have already spoken to the Assam government to help us in this regard to which they have agreed.”
The state will do a staggered evacuation, he says.
9 pm: Scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research and the National Institute of Virology in Pune have developed a test for the detection of antibodies, the ICMR says. It adds that the test has a sensitivity of 98.7% and specificity of 100%.
8.45 pm: Mumbai reports 998 new positive coronavirus cases and 25 fatalities today. The city now has total 16,579 infections and toll rises to 621.
8.25 pm: Gujarat records 324 new cases and 20 deaths, increasing the state’s tally of total coronavirus infections to 9,592 and fatalities to 586.
8.23 pm: Maharashtra reports 1,602 new coronavirus cases and 44 deaths today. With this, the total number of infections in the state has risen to 27,524 and the fatalities stood at 1,019. A total 6,059 patients have recovered so far.
8.20 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party leaders praise the announcements made by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman as part of second tranche of Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package.
8.18 pm: The Supreme Court will on Friday hear the plea filed by the Tamil Nadu government against the Madras High Court’s order to close all state-run liquor shops amid the nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus, reports ANI.
8.15 pm: The health ministry has issued guidelines for RT-PCR based pooled sampling for migrant workers in institutional quarantine facilities, international passengers in institutional quarantine facilities/hotels and for surveillance purposes in green zones that have not reported no coronavirus cases in last 21 days.
8.12 pm: Mumbai’s Dharavi slum reports 33 new cases, bringing its tally to 1,061, according to ANI.
8.08 pm: The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security has allowed passengers boarding an aircraft to carry hand sanitiser up to 350 ml in their cabin baggage, says Airports Authority of India. “This will be implemented with immediate effect,” reads the order.
8.02 pm: “Government should give direct cash transfer to the pockets to enhance the demand and this is not more than Rs 65,000 crore while the so called stimulus package is only ‘loan mela’,” says Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate.
8 pm: “The migrants who are walking towards their homes are left to the mercy of god and if they reach home the government is offering 5 kg rice or wheat and 1 kg of gram, its pathetic,” adds Tewari.
7.57 pm: Addressing an online press briefing, former Union minister Manish Tewari says Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s entire media conference was a “classical display of arrogance, ignorance and insensitivity”.
7.53 pm: Congress leader Ahmed Patel also criticises the announcements made by Nirmala Sitharaman. “This wasn’t an economic package,” he tweets. “It’s an empty package wrapped by speeches since last 3 days. The migrants and the poor were having great expectations after the prime minister’s speech. Sadly, the government has turned a blind eye to their problems and is back to headline management.”
7.50 pm: Congress leader Anand Sharma says the country believed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was serious when he made the “dramatic” announcement of giving 10% of the GDP as a package to revive the economy and support workers and migrant labourers, and that expectations had soared.
“FM’s announcement dashed all hopes,” he tweets. “Too little money to support crores of workers who lost livelihood wages and incomes, migrant labour have suffered the most and got very little, forced to trudge back hungry and starving to distant villages of forced to pay train fare. Shockingly no emergency transfer to the states.”
7.47 pm: Congress says Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcements were nothing but a “jumla package”.
7.15 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi praises the announcements made by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, saying it will especially benefit the farmers and migrant workers. “The announcements include a series of progressive measures and will boost food security, credit to farmers as well as street vendors,” he tweets.
6.55 pm: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh allows tiny/cottage industries in non-containment mixed use areas of Ludhiana to immediately resume operations to revive the industries. “Resumption of operations in these small units, which normally have labour living on or in vicinity of premises, will be subject to requirements of access control,” says a tweet from his office.
6.48 pm: Meanwhile, Karnataka reports 28 new cases, increasing the state’s tally of infections to 987.
6.47 pm: Tamil Nadu reports 447 fresh coronavirus cases, taking the total number of infections in the state to 9,674, says Health Minister C Vijayabaskar, according to ANI. He also adds that two more fatalities were reported in the state taking the toll to 66.
6.35 pm: While answering to questions during the press conference, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made the following points:
- The ‘one nation one ration card’ is an Aadhaar-linked digitised card, wherein the Aadhaar number of all family members are added. So, if a migrant worker is in one city and their family is another part of the country, they can decide and divide the ration how they feel best and avail it accordingly in both places based on the allocation per family.
- The modalities for extending help to street vendors will be worked out.
- The prime minister had requested people to please stay where they are, but we understand the movement of migrant workers nevertheless. The whole country is concerned about the plight of migrants. Even today, we are seeing migrant families and children walking on the roads. This government is very concerned. We have worked together with state governments to provide train facilities, and so far, 806 special trains have been run and ten lakh migrants have gone back to their respective destinations.
- Uttar Pradesh has accepted 386 trains, Bihar has accepted 204 trains, Madhya Pradesh has taken 67 trains, Jharkhand has taken 44 trains, Rajasthan has accepted 18 trains, and Chhattisgarh and West Bengal have accepted seven trains each.
- The 44 labour laws will be condensed into four codes and they will be implemented through the Parliamentary process.
6.16 pm: Kerala reports 26 new coronavirus cases, taking the state’s tally to 560, reports ANI.
6.12 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says her government has made arrangements for 105 more trains to bring back people stranded in different parts of the country amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The state government’s initiative to run special trains will continue till June 14.
“Towards our commitment to helping all our people stuck in different parts of the country and who want to return back to Bengal, I am pleased to announce that we have arranged 105 additional special trains,” Banerjee tweets. “Over the coming days, these special trains will embark from different states for various destinations across Bengal bringing our people back home.”
6.06 pm: The Central Board of Secondary Education has announced that students who have failed in class 9 and 11 will be given another opportunity to appear for school-based tests in view of the coronavirus crisis.
6 pm: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi says the party will ensure that the screams of migrant workers reach the Narendra Modi-led government. “There is a dense darkness and these are difficult times, have courage, all of us are standing for the safety of all of them,” he tweets. “We will ensure that their screams reach the government and they get the help they deserve. They are not the ordinary public of the country, they are the flag bearers of the country’s self-respect. We will never let them bow down.”
5.50 pm: Congress leader and Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy says the government’s Rs 20 lakh crore economic stimulus package has let down the poor and the migrant workers, reports PTI.
5.24 pm: Here are some key takeaways from the second tranche of the economic relief package:
- Food grains: Free foodgrains to be supplied to around eight crore migrants for two months. Those who do not hold a central or state ration cards will be given five kg of rice/wheat and one kg of chana for the next two months.
- ‘One nation one ration card’: Under this anyone can avail ration from any Fair Price Shop irrespective of the state or Union Territory. The government aims to roll out the scheme across the country by March 2021.
- Affordable rentals: This is a scheme where manufacturing units and the government will make affordable rental housing accommodation for workers and migrant labourers.
- Street vendors: The Centre has introduced a special credit facility scheme for street vendors worth Rs 5,000 crore. Under this, each vendor can take up to Rs 10,000 as loan.
- Small and marginal farmers: The Centre will immediately release Rs 30,000 crore additional emergency working capital for farmers fund through National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development.
- Shishu loans under MUDRA: The Centre will provide interest subvention of 2% for prompt Micro Units Development and Refinance Agency Bank -Shishu loans payees for a period of 12 months. This is expected to benefit roughly three crore people, according to the government.
5.15 pm: Fishermen and animal husbandry farmers will also be included in PM Kisan Credit Cards scheme, Sitharaman says.
5.06 pm: The Centre will immediately release Rs 30,000 crore additional emergency working capital for farmers fund through National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, says Sitharaman. “About 3 crore farmers – mostly small and marginal farmers –will benefit from this,” she adds.
5.05 pm: The government has extended the affordable housing credit scheme for the middle income group till March 31, says Sitharaman. The scheme for those who have an annual income between Rs 6 lakh to Rs 18 lakh, was started in 2017. “About 330,000 families have benefitted from this scheme,” Sitharaman adds. “Another 250,000 more people are likely to benefit from it.”
5.02 pm: The Centre has introduced a special credit facility scheme for street vendors worth Rs 5,000 crore, says Sitharaman. Under this, each vendor can take up to Rs 10,000 as loan. “Those who make repayments digitally will get additional benefits,” she adds.
4.55 pm: The Centre will provide interest subvention of 2% for prompt Mudra-Shishu Loans payees for a period of 12 months, the finance minister says. “Rs 1,62,000 crore has been given out under this type of loan so far,” she adds. “Over 1.30 million people will benefit from this scheme.
4.52 pm: The government is working on a special scheme to incentivise manufacturing units to build affordable rental housing complexes for migrant workers. The Centre is also looking into converting government-funded houses into rental accommodation. “Detailed guidelines about the scheme to come from the ministry soon,” Sitharaman says.
4.49 pm: The government announces the ‘One nation, one ration card’ scheme. “The scheme will enable a migrant beneficiary to access a Public Distribution System from any Fair Price Shop in the country,” Sitharaman says.
4.43 pm: The government announces a free food scheme for migrant workers under which 8 crore workers will get free food grains for two months. For those who’re non-card holders, they shall be given 5 kgs per person of wheat/rice and 1 kg chana per family, Sitharaman says. “The cost will be borne entirely by the Central government.”
4.36 pm: The government is planning to make Employees’ State Insurance mandatory for workers employed in hazardous jobs, Sitharaman says.
4.33 pm: Here’s a full list of measures and announcements the government has announced for migrant workers and the urban poor in the last two months, according to the finance minister:
4.31 pm: The government has taken steps worth Rs 10,000 crore this year so far, for generating work for migrant workers in 187,000 gram panchayats, she adds.
4.28 pm: The finance minister goes on to spell out measures taken by the government to support migrant workers in the country. “We had announced the increase in average wage rate from Rs 182 to Rs 202 under Mahatma Gandhi Employment Guarantee Act 2005,” she says. “We have already generated 14.62 crore man-days of work till May 13. This is 40% to 50% more than May last year. We’re ensuring they [workers] get enrolled in large numbers.”
4.26 pm: About 12,000 self-help groups have produced over 30 million masks in the Covid-19 period, Sitharaman adds.
4.24 pm: For the poor in urban areas, in just the last two months, the Centre has permitted state governments to utilise the State Disaster Response Fund to set up shelters and basic facilities for migrants, Sitharaman says. “ Rs 11,002 crore of its governmental share was advanced to all states on 3rd April under SDRF
4.22 pm: Sitharaman announces the measures taken by the government to support farmers during the lockdown.
4.20 pm: The Centre sanctioned Rs 6,700 crore to state agencies for procurement of agricultural produce in March and April, Sitharaman says.
4.16 pm: Interest subvention on small loans to farmers has been extended to May 31, Sitharaman says.
4.10 pm: “We must remember that within hours of announcing the first phase of the lockdown, we had announced the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana, for providing money and food to the poor,” Sitharaman says.
4.06 pm: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman begins press briefing on the second tranche of the Centre’s Rs 20 lakh crore fiscal stimulus. “Today’s initiatives focuses on migrant workers, street vendors, small traders, the self-employed and small farmers,” she says.
3.51 pm: Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh says the recent anti-worker measures taken by the states are “unheard of in history and rare even in the most undemocratic countries”, PTI reports.
3.48 pm: Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan inaugurates an automated Covid-19 testing machine at the National Centre for Disease Control.
3.39 pm: President Ram Nath Kovind will forego 30% of his salary for one year to help India in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, ANI reports. The Rashtrapati Bhavan will also cut down expenditure on ceremonial banquets.
3.27 pm: Air India will soon begin reservation for flights from India to select destinations in the United States, the UK and Australia and to Frankfurt, Paris and Singapore.
3.16 pm: Experts from the United Nations say India’s Rs 20 lakh crore-stimulus package to counter the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic is the largest among developing nations, PTI reports.
Julian Slotman, the associate economic affairs officer of the Department of Economic and Social affairs, told the news agency that India’s “impressive” stimulus package would help reassure markets and boost domestic consumption.
3.12 pm: The Indian Railways says 10 lakh migrant workers have been sent back home in 800 trains since May 1, ANI reports.
3.08 pm: Mangaluru Deputy Commissioner Sindhu B Rupesh orders the director of the city’s airport to personally oversee the arrangements for passengers arriving from abroad after complaints, PTI reports.
3.04 pm: The Delhi High Court dismisses a petition accusing the government of failing to provide adequate protective gear to frontline healthcare professionals, PTI reports. The court says that the Centre and the Delhi government were doing their bit.
2.59 pm: The Union health ministry says it will use one time RT-PCR (Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) based pooled sampling for Covid-19 screening among migrant workers and returnees from abroad kept in quarantine facilities.
2.53 pm: The administration in West Bengal’s Hoogly district issues prohibitory orders and suspends internet services till Sunday after a clash between two groups amid the nationwide lockdown.
2.50 pm: Assamese migrant workers in Chennai urge the government to help them return home.
2.46 pm: Army Chief General MM Naravane says the coronavirus pandemic will not affect the force’s activities along border areas.
2.41 pm: A 30-year-old migrant labourer died by suicide at a quarantine centre in Chhattisgarh’s Raigarh district on Wednesday, according to PTI. He had returned from Telangana on May 10.
2.34 pm: Congress leader P Chidambaram says the money allocated for migrant workers from the PM CARES fund will not even reach them.
2.30 pm: The Mumbai Traffic police say they have collected Rs 9 crore by issuing challans to the people violating lockdown norms in the city since the travel restrictions came into force in March, PTI reports.
2.26 pm: Health officials in England approve a new antibody test to establish whether a person has been infected with coronavirus in the past, PTI reports. The procedure involves a blood test that looks for antibodies to see if a person has already had the virus and might now have some immunity.
“This is a very positive development because such a highly specific antibody test is a very reliable marker of past infection,” says Professor John Newton, the national co-ordinator of the UK Coronavirus Testing Programme.
2.21 pm: The police in West Bengal’s Hooghly district have arrested 129 people so far for their alleged involvement in clashes between two communities last week. The clashes had erupted after the members of a community were allegedly called “corona” by some people belonging to the other group.
2.17 pm: Sanitation workers disinfect the Ghazipur wholesale fruit and vegetable market in Delhi. The market has been closed for two days after two officials tested positive for Covid-19.
2.12 pm: Jammu and Kashmir Principal Secretary Rohit Kansal says 900 residents will be brought back to the Union Territory aboard a special train on Thursday, ANI reports. He adds that over 50,000 people have been brought back to the region so far through various modes of transport.
2.10 pm: A huge crowd gathers at a flower market in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore city.
2.05 pm: More distressing videos of the hardships of migrant workers amidst the nationwide lockdown continue to emerge. In one case, a migrant worker improvised a wooden cart and pulled his pregnant wife and infant daughter nearly 700 km from Hyderabad in Telangana to Balaghat in Madhya Pradesh. Another video showed a woman walking towards her home, dragging a trolley bag while a sleeping child clung to it.
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2.03 pm: Seven people who came to Assam from Mumbai test positive for the coronavirus, state minister Himanta Biswa Sarma says.
1.59 pm: India’s new High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Gopal Baglay presents his credentials to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a ceremony held through video-conferencing.
1.55 pm: Lakhs of migrants from Chhattisgarh work in the booming construction sectors of cities like Hyderabad. Adivasis from the state’s Bastar region also take up seasonal work in the chilli farms of rural Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. This year, thousands are stranded without wages and food, panic mounting as states extend lockdowns and the red tape to get on a train home seems impenetrable.
1.51 pm: Pakistan’s coronavirus tally rises to 35,788 with 1,452 new cases, PTI reports. The toll reaches 770 with 33 more deaths.
1.47 pm: Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel says the state government began over 300 infrastructure projects after the Centre announced lockdown relaxations.
1.39 pm: Delhi reports 472 new cases and no deaths. The Capital’s tally rises to 8,470 and the toll reaches 115.
1.36 pm: The Delhi chief minister adds that the suggestions given by citizens will be discussed at a meeting of the State Disaster Management Authority and Lieutenant Governor Anij Baijal in the evening. “After that, we will send a proposal to the Centre on how much relaxation should be allowed in Delhi,” he says.
1.25 pm: “Most people also said that hotels should stay closed but restaurants should be allowed to offer take-away and home delivery services,” Kejriwal adds. “There is a consensus among the people that barber shops, spas, saloons, cinema halls, and swimming pools should remain closed.”
1.21 pm: Kejriwal adds that most people in Delhi want buses and the metro to re-start.
1.17 pm: Kejriwal thanks the people for sending suggestions on easing Covid-19 restrictions in the Capital. He adds that the government received over 5 lakh suggestions.
1.15 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal begins press briefing on the coronavirus.
1.11 pm: Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Y Naik says India is working on four Ayurvedic medicine formulations to treat Covid-19. He adds that the trials for these medicines will start soon
1.04 pm: Around 1,000 migrant labourers assembled near a hotel in Mumbai’s Nagpada area on Wednesday, demanding a train to take them to their hometowns. As more people continued to gather, the police resorted to using force, but eventually arranged three trains for them.
12.57 pm: New cases reported:
Karnataka: Twenty-two new cases, tally rises to 981; toll at 35.
Andhra Pradesh: Thirty-six new cases, tally rises to 2,100; toll at 48.
12.54 pm: Health officials in Assam place a family of four in quarantine after they showed symptoms upon arrival from Delhi.
12.51 pm: More than 300 Indian citizens land in Gujarat from the United Kingdom and Kuwait, according to PTI.
12.49 pm: A Delhi Police officer, posted at a station in the South East part of the Capital, tests positive for Covid-19, PTI reports.
12.46 pm: A social worker files a petition in the Delhi High Court seeking the release of nearly 3,300 Tablighi Jamaat members, who continue to be kept in quarantine centres despite negative Covid-19 test results, PTI reports.
12.41 pm: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel demands resumption of more economic activities in the country to raise the revenue of states, PTI reports. He adds that the state governments must be given the freedom of making decisions.
12.37 pm: A 28-year-old sumo wrestler died of the coronavirus on Wednesday. Kiyotaka Suetake is reportedly the first sumo wrestler to die from the infection, and also among the youngest in Japan.
12.24 pm: A Border Security Force soldier tests positive for the coronavirus in Tripura’s Dhalai district, PTI reports. The state’s tally rises to 156.
12.17 pm: The Shiv Sena raises questions over the Centre’s Rs 20 lakh crore-stimulus package. “The package will reach 130 crore Indians and the country will become self-reliant. Does this mean India is not a self-reliant country at present?” the party asks in its editorial mouthpiece Saamna.
12.15 pm: A plane carrying Indian citizens takes off from Dhaka.
12.13 pm: The police in Texas charge an engineer of Indian origin for fraudulently seeking more than $10 million in loans under a coronavirus relief programme set up to help small businesses, PTI reports.
12.07 pm: On February 23, vicious communal violence broke out in Northeast Delhi and continued for three days. A month later, the nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of Covid-19 was implemented on March 25. Many people lost their homes in the clashes. The Covid-19 epidemic has pushed them to the edge.
12.02 pm: The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions creates a draft ‘work for home’ framework for Central government employees after the lockdown, PTI reports.
“A broad framework for work from home is important to standardise the operating procedure even post lock down situation and to ensure safety and security of information, while accessing government files and information remotely from home,” the ministry says in an order.
11.58 am: The Indian Railways says it generated a revenue of over Rs 45 crore as 2.34 lakh passengers booked tickets to travel on special trains over the next week, PTI reports.
11.54 am: Uber Technologies on Wednesday said it will require drivers, delivery workers and riders across the world to wear protective masks as countries begin easing lockdown restrictions, according to Reuters.
Beginning on Monday, the company will require everyone using its ride-hailing service in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and most Latin American and Asian countries to wear some form of face covering and ask passengers to sit in the back.
11.49 am: A special train arrives at the Mumbai Central Station from Delhi.
11.46 am: The Indian Navy’s INS Jalashwa will undertake its second journey with Indian citizens from Maldives to Kerala on Friday.
11.41 am: Goa reported seven coronavirus cases on Wednesday after over a month of no new infections, according to The Indian Express.
11.35 am: The Maharashtra Police say 1,001 personnel have tested positive for the coronavirus so far.
11.32 am: The Maharashtra Highway Police direct their personnel to not collect fines from vehicles carrying migrant labourers, PTI reports.
11.31 am: Passengers from Gujarat arrive in Delhi.
11.23 am: The Indian Railways says it is keeping a record of the destination address of passengers to enable contact tracing later, PTI reports.
11.16 am: Nepal’s health ministry revises the number of coronavirus cases in the country to 245, acknowledging that there was a repetition in counting, ANI reports.
11.09 am: A special train carrying passengers from Mumbai arrives in Delhi.
11.04 am: Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain says that the government is working on a policy to navigate the fourth phase of the lockdown and will inform people about it soon.
11.00 am: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath hands over cheques to representatives of the MSME (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises) sector as part of the state’s online loan fair. Around 36,000 businesses will get loans amounting to Rs 2,000 crore under the programme.
10.57 am: Dubai Airport’s Chief Executive Paul Griffiths says temperature checks and masks will become the new normal for air travel, Reuters reports.
10.52 am: The United Nations Children’s Fund on Wednesday said that 6,000 children could die every day from preventable causes over the next six months as the coronavirus pandemic continues to weaken health systems.
10.48 am: An inmate at Delhi’s Rohini Jail tests positive for the coronavirus, ANI reports. Five jail staff members are twenty inmates have been placed under quarantine.
10.44 am: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will again brief the media at 4 pm on the Centre’s measures to deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
10.37 am: Domestic benchmark indices fall even after the government’s announcement of a Rs 20 lakh-crore stimulus package. The BSE Sensex is trading at 31,408, down 1.8%. The Nifty 50 is down 1.79% and trading at 9,216.
10.32 am: China reports 15 new coronavirus cases as mass testing begins for the 11 million people in Wuhan, according to PTI.
10.29 am: Migrant workers wait to board buses at the Inter-State Bus Terminus in Chandigarh.
10.17 am: The Indian Railways cancels all tickets booked to travel on or before June 30, PTI reports. Passengers with tickets of cancelled regular trains will get a full refund. The Shramik special trains will run as usual.
10.13 am: Health experts from the United Nations warn of a looming mental health crisis as millions of people worldwide are surrounded by death and disease and forced into isolation, poverty and anxiety due to the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reports.
10.09 am: Brazil registered a record 11,385 new cases of the coronavirus on Wednesday, surpassing France’s tally to become the sixth-worst hit country, according to Reuters. Brazil’s tally went up to 1,88,974 while France’s count stood at 1,77,700.
10.06 am: A train carrying passengers from Patna arrives in Delhi.
10.02 am: The Uttar Pradesh government announces a compensation of Rs 2 lakh to the families of migrant workers killed in an accident on the Muzaffarnagar-Saharanpur highway, ANI reports. The government also announces a compensation of Rs 50,000 for the injured people.
9.57 am: The Indian Railways on Wednesday issued an order allowing waitlisting of passengers from May 22 for journeys not just on the special trains, but also on all its upcoming services.
9.55 am: The Japan government says it wants to lift a state of emergency declared because of the coronavirus in most of the country, though not yet the capital Tokyo and other urban centres, AFP reports.
Japan’s virus outbreak remains small compared with those seen in parts of Europe and the United States, with a little over 16,000 confirmed infections recorded and 687 deaths.
9.50 am: United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that he will look into the legislation introduced in the Senate that proposes sanctions on China if it fails to cooperate and provide a full accounting of the events leading up to the coronavirus outbreak, PTI reports.
9.42 am: Fugitive tycoon Vijay Mallya congratulates the government on the Rs 20 lakh crore-coronavirus relief package. He urges the government to accept his offer to repay 100% of his loan dues and close the fraud case against him.
9.40 am: Rajasthan reports 66 coronavirus cases and one death. The state’s tally rises to 4,394 and the toll reaches 122.
9.37 am: Despite close to two months passing since the migrant crisis began with the sudden enforcement of the nationwide lockdown on March 25 to curtail the spread of Covid-19, the Centre has not found it necessary to establish a task force to help migrants reach their homes.
9.34 am: Odisha reports 73 new coronavirus cases. The state’s tally rises to 611.
9.29 am: The United States on Wednesday accused China of stealing research on the coronavirus through hackers, according to Reuters.
In a joint statement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security said the they were investigating digital break-ins at US organisations by China-linked “cyber actors”
9.23 pm: The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development on Wednesday said that the coronavirus pandemic led to a 3% drop in global trade in the first quarter of 2020 and this downturn is expected to reach 27% in the next quarter.
9.22 am: Fourteen migrant workers were killed in two separate accidents in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday evening. More than 60 people were injured.
9.18 am: Former Union Minister and Karnataka Congress leader CM Ibrahim asks Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa to decide on allowing Muslims to offer Eid prayers at mosques after consulting medical experts.
9.11 am: The World Health Organization on Wednesday said that the coronavirus may never go away and could become endemic like HIV, according to Reuters. “It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities, and this virus may never go away,” WHO emergencies expert Mike Ryan said.
9.07 am: A train carrying passengers from Delhi arrives in Bengaluru.
9.05 am: A 30-year-old woman and her daughter test positive for Covid-19 in Himachal Pradesh, ANI reports. They had returned to the state from Delhi earlier this month.
8.54 am: In the last 24 hours, India reported 3,722 cases while the toll increased by 134.
8.51 am: India’s tally rises to 78,003 with 49,219 active cases, according to the health ministry’s update. The toll is now 2,549.
8.39 am: King George’s Medical University in Lucknow tested 982 samples on Wednesday and 28 of those have come positive, reports ANI.
8.30 am: At least two people have been killed and 12 injured in a collision between a bus and a truck near Shankar Chowk in Bihar’s Samastipur, reports ANI. The bus, ferrying 32 migrant workers, was going from Muzaffarpur to Katihar.
8.27 am: Delhi’s Gazipur fruit and vegetable market has been closed for two days for sanitisation after the secretary and the deputy secretary of the market tested positive, SP Gupta the chairman of the market, tells ANI.
8 am: Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has accused the Imran Khan-led government of failing to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, reports PTI. The country saw a record jump of more than 2,000 cases in a single day. The total number of cases in Pakistan is over 35,000 and 761 Covid-19 patients have died.
7.55 am: Eight migrant workers died and nearly 50 were injured after the truck they were travelling in collided with a bus in Madhya Pradesh’s Cantonment Police Station area in Guna district on Wednesday night, reports ANI. The injured have been moved to a district hospital. The workers were on their way back to their hometowns.
7.50 am: Nepal’s health ministry says five more coronavirus cases have been found in the country, taking the total number of cases to 250, reports ANI.
7.45 am: United States President Donald Trump has asked governors across the country to work towards reopening schools in their states, reports AP.
7.40 am: Six migrant labourers, walking along the Muzaffarnagar-Saharanpur highway, were killed after a speeding bus ran over them late on Wednesday, reports ANI. The incident occurred near Ghalauli check-post. A case has been registered against the unidentified bus driver.
7.35 am: Here are the top updates from Wednesday
- Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday briefed the media on the Rs 20 lakh crore-stimulus package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to tide over the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. “In order to provide more take home salary for employees and to give relief to employers in payment of provident fund, EPF contribution is being reduced for businesses and workers for three months, amounting to liquidity support of Rs 6,750 crore,” said Sitharaman. The finance minister also announced that the due date for filing income tax returns has been postponed from July 31 and October 31 to November 30 for 2019-’20. The rates for tax deducted at source and tax collected at source have been reduced by 25% till March 31, 2021.
- Maharashtra reported its largest 24-hour increase in the number of novel coronavirus cases, with 1,494 more on Wednesday. Mumbai alone has 15,747 of the state’s 25,992 cases now. Mumbai has tested over 2,30,000 samples so far. Around 3 lakh people are in home quarantine and over 14,000 in institutional quarantine.
- The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 74,281 on Wednesday morning and the toll climbed to 2,415, according to the figures from the Union health ministry. The country recorded 3,525 new infections and 122 deaths in the last 24 hours. India is now the 12th most-affected country by the pandemic as the cases crossed the 74,000-mark, according to the latest real-time tally by Johns Hopkins University.
- The Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday announced that Rs 3,100 crore from the PM Cares Fund trust will be used to buy ventilators, help migrant workers and support development of a vaccine against the new coronavirus.
- The International Monetary Fund warned that moving too early to reopen economies and rollback restrictions and lockdowns in Asia and Europe could lead to renewed coronavirus outbreaks. It said that economies in Asia and Europe should proceed carefully and resist the urge to do too much too soon.
- The Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, plans to conduct nucleic acid testing over a period of 10 days on the entire population after new coronavirus cases emerged for the first time in weeks.