The Congress on Thursday criticised the Centre over its guidelines for domestic flights, which will resume from Monday. The civil aviation minister had said middle seats on planes would not be kept vacant, which the Opposition party questioned.
The Centre announced that tickets for domestic flights will cost between Rs 2,000 and Rs 18,600. The ticket prices have been capped in seven categories based on flight duration.
The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 1,12,359 on Thursday with 5,609 new infections, according to the Union health ministry. The toll is now 3,435. Maharashtra reported over 2,300 new cases, taking the state’s tally to 41,642.
Worldwide, the total number of cases is now close to five million, according to a tracker by the Johns Hopkins University.
The national helpline number for the coronavirus is 011-23978046, and a toll-free number 1075.
11.03 pm: Former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan says the Centre’s economic package is inadequate. He says the government’s challenge is not just to tackle the impact of the worsening health crisis but to repair years of “economic drift”.
10.39 pm: Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala hits out at the Centre over Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri’s comment that middle seats on planes would not be left vacant.
10.32 pm: The Indian Council of Medical Research says it is critical to strengthen the indigenous production of diagnostic material for the coronavirus, to ensure uninterrupted availability amid global shortage, PTI reports.
10.16 pm: Assam’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma says all people entering the state, including those on domestic flights, will be quarantined. This comes after the Union aviation minister said those travelling on domestic flights need not be placed in quarantine.
9.49 pm: Indian Railways will open 200 reservation counters from tomorrow, PTI reports. This comes after Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said the country needed to start moving towards normalcy.
9.45 pm: Punjab writes to Bihar seeking permission to send 59 more trains with migrants back to the state, PTI reports. More than 2.5 lakh migrant workers have already been sent to their home states from Punjab, PTI quotes a letter from Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh as saying.
9.24 pm: The toll due to the virus in the United Kingdom rises to 36,042, reports Reuters.
9.10 pm: The Chandigarh administration imposes a 5% Covid-19 tax on the sale of liquor, PTI reports.
9.07 pm: The number of coronavirus cases in Maharashtra crosses 40,000.
8.59 pm: Madhya Pradesh’s tally nears 6,000 after 248 new cases. The toll stands at 270.
8.56 pm: New cases in other states:
Goa: Two new cases; tally rises to 52.
Himachal Pradesh: 31 new cases, tally rises to 141.
8.52 pm: Telangana reports 38 new coronavirus cases. The state’s tally rises to 1,699.
8.31 pm: Gujarat reports 371 coronavirus cases. The state’s tally rises to 12,910. The toll stands at 773.
8.20 pm: Domestic flight tickets will cost between Rs 2000 and Rs 18,600, says Centre.
7.45 pm: Mumbai’s Dharavi slum reports 47 new coronavirus cases, according to PTI. The area’s tally rises to 1,425. The toll stands at 56.
7.44 pm: The Uttar Pradesh government categorises urban areas in Gautam Buddh Nagar and Ghaziabad as red zones, PTI reports.
7.24 pm: The Cycling Federation of India will invite 13-year-old Jyoti Kumari, who had to cycle to Bihar from Gurugram carrying her ailing father due to nationwide coronavirus lockdown, to appear for a trial next month. The teen covered 1,200 kilometres in a week.
7.19 pm: Anglo-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca secures its first agreements for 400 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine it is testing, The Associated Press reports. The firm receives more than $1 billion from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for the development, production and delivery of the vaccine, starting this fall.
7.14 pm: The Maharashtra government deputes three Indian Administrative Service officers at three major civic-run hospitals in Mumbai for effective management of the coronavirus crisis, PTI reports.
7.11 pm: Punjab’s coronavirus tally crosses 2,000 with 23 new cases.
7.06 pm: The Ministry of Home Affairs says lockdown violations were being reported in various states. The ministry directs state governments to strictly implement measures to combat the coronavirus.
7.00 pm: The government unveils the Standard Operating Procedure for the resumption of sports in India.
6.57 pm: China attacks United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for spreading “numerous lies” about the coronavirus pandemic.
6.52 pm: Tamil Nadu reports 776 coronavirus cases. The state’s tally rises to 13,967.
6.51 pm: The Gujarat government says over nine lakh stranded migrant workers have been sent back to their home states on special trains, PTI reports.
6.30 pm: Epidemiologist Giridhara R Babu warns that coronavirus cases in India could peak in mid-July if the lockdown is lifted by the end of May, PTI reports. “If the lockdown is lifted on May 30, then we will have peak around mid-July because if you take three incubations period, which is one-and-half months, that will be enough for you to know how the disease spreads when nothing is controlled,” he tells the news agency.
“We will have probably a lower surge compared to what we would have had if nothing was done from the beginning,” he adds.
6.22 pm: Twenty-one policemen have tested positive for coronavirus in South Kashmir so far, The Indian Express reports.
6.19 pm: At least 10 states, including industrialised Gujarat and Haryana, have relaxed labour laws. While this has caused consternation among trade unions including the Centre for Indian Trade Unions, the question is how does this work? How will it impact employers and employees?
6.15 pm: Nearly 39 million people in the United States have sought jobless aid so far, The Associated Press reports.
6.12 pm: A Central Industrial Security Force order cancelling all transfers till March next year because of the coronavirus pandemic will save over Rs 38 crore in allowances, unidentified officials tell PTI.
6.09 pm: The British government on Wednesday extended a Covid-19 Bereavement Scheme, which grants permanent residency to the family members of overseas medics who die after contracting the coronavirus, to all healthcare staff and social care workers, PTI reports.
6.07 pm: A 50-year-old Central Reserve Police Force assistant sub-inspector dies of Covid-19 in Delhi, PTI reports.
6.05 pm: The number of coronavirus cases in Noida rises to 302 after nine more people test positive, PTI reports. The nine new patients include two employees of phone maker Oppo.
5.59 pm: A 55-year-old man dies by suicide at a quarantine facility near Karnataka’s Mangaluru city, PTI reports. The police say that he worked at a hotel in Mumbai.
5.52 pm: Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis accuses Uddhav Thackeray’s government of “indecisiveness” in handling the coronavirus crisis, PTI reports. “Uddhav Thackeray is new and appears scared of taking action,” Fadnavis says. “He depends a lot on bureaucracy.”
Fadnavis adds that there were no beds for Covid-19 patients in Mumbai’s government hospitals while half of the intensive care units in private hospitals remained unoccupied.
5.48 pm: Karnataka reports 143 new coronavirus cases. The state’s tally rises to 1,605. The toll stands at 41.
5.44 pm: The Uttar Pradesh government says more than 50% of the Sharamik special trains running in the country have come to the state, ANI reports.
5.42 pm: The police in Maharashtra’s Aurangabad city file cases against 32 people for walking around in a containment zone, PTI reports.
5.39 pm: American pharmaceutical giant Gilead Sciences is likely to request India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation for marketing authorisation for its anti-viral drug remdesivir, considered by many as a potential medication for Covid-19, PTI reports.
5.34 pm: Pakistan’s Punjab province will reopen over 500 shrines for pilgrims as it eases lockdown rules, The Express Tribune reports. Pakistan has reported over 48,091 coronavirus cases and 1,017 deaths.
5.31 pm: Uttar Pradesh reports 181 coronavirus cases, according to PTI. The state’s tally rises to 5,356. The toll stands at 127.
5.25 pm: Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal asks Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to form a panel to help people and businesses in “tough times” and focus especially on the welfare of migrant workers, PTI reports. He asks the Delhi Development Authority to explore measures for moratorium on installments, allotment money, lease rent and licence fee.
Baijal also directs the Home Department to take steps to consider automatic extension of the validity of licences for hotels, restaurants, guest houses and swimming pools.
5.22 pm: A police constable in Pune dies of Covid-19, ANI reports.
5.18 pm: The Border Security Force says 274 personnel have recovered from Covid-19 so far, ANI reports. The number of active cases in BSF stands at 87.
5.14 pm: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Wednesday said that his government will pay the interest for three months on education loans of students who will finish their studies this year or who have already completed their education but have not been able to start jobs or business due to the coronavirus pandemic.
5.12 pm: Kerala reports 24 new coronavirus cases. The state’s tally rises to 177.
5.08 pm: China begins the annual session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative, its most significant political event, after a two-month delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Associated Press reports. The conference’s Chairperson Wang Yang said the members would “tell the world about how China, as a responsible major country, has taken firm action and contributed to international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic.”
4.58 pm: Coronavirus death rates in United States’ Democratic-ruled areas are triple those in Republican ones, a Reuters analysis shows.
4.48 pm: Sports Authority of India makes it mandatory for athletes and officials at national camps to install the Aarogya Setu app, PTI reports. The government is preparing to resume sports in the country in a phased manner.
4.43 pm: It is not possible to directly purchase tickets on the Shramik trains. Workers are required to register with their home states, which coordinate with host states. Once a train is scheduled for departure, the workers who have been shortlisted for travel receive a phone call. They are medically screened before being allowed to board the trains. The fares are collected at the station, unless the home state decided to bear the cost of their travel.
The system is complex and opaque, resulting in hundreds of migrant workers showing up at railway stations only to be pushed back by the authorities.
4.38 pm: The United States government orders 300 million doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, Reuters reports.
4.33 pm: Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren says his government will start setting up community kitchens for migrant workers along highways, PTI reports.
4.31 pm: A 37-year-old police constable in Hyderabad dies of Covid-19, PTI reports. In Telangana, at least five police personnel been infected so far.
4.24 pm: Delhi’s coronavirus tally rises to 11,659 with 571 new cases. The toll stands at 194.
4.22 pm: The Centre says private air carriers will also join the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indians stranded abroad, PTI reports.
4.10 pm: Bihar reports 96 new coronavirus cases, according to ANI. The state’s tally rises to 1,872.
4.07 pm: Puri adds that flight operations will be restricted to one-third capacity till August 24.
4.05 pm: The Centre says the passengers will have to report to airports at least two hours ahead of departure.
3.38 pm: Airlines will be allowed to sell 40% of the seats below Rs 6,000, the aviation ministry says.
3.27 pm: The air fare between Delhi and Mumbai will have the minimum price of Rs 3,500 and the maximum fare of Rs 10,000, Puri says. This will be applicable for three months, he adds.
3.25 pm: The revised fare structure was decided in correspondence to railway fares, Puri adds.
3.22 pm: The fare structure of flights is divided into seven sections on the basis of the duration of the flight, Puri says.
section A: Upto 40 minutes
section B: 40-60 minutes
section C: 60-90 minutes
section D: 90-120 minutes
section E: 120-150 minutes
section F: 150-180 minutes
section G: 180-210 minutes
3.16 pm: For departures between a metro city and a non metro city, which has more than 100 departures in a day, one-third of operations will be allowed.
3.15 pm: For flight operations between Metro cities, one-third of the capacity will be allowed to function.
3.14 pm: Domestic commercial flight operations will resume from May 25 in a calibrated manner, Puri says.
3.10 pm: “The number of deaths in India are among the lowest, amounting to just 3% of the population,” Puri says. “The time has come for us to open up and ease the lockdown.”
3.05 pm: “The number of citizens repatriated from other countries has doubled over the past two weeks,” Puri adds. “However, our effort was not to bring back everyone who wanted to come back,” he adds. “There was a clear emphasis on bringing back only those who are under stress.”
3.03 pm: The government has repatriated over 20,000 Indians stranded abroad under the Vande Bharat Mission, so far, Puri says.
3.01 pm: Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri addresses a press conference in Delhi.
2.58 pm: Preparations are underway at the Jay Prakash Narayan International Airport in Bihar to resume domestic flight operations on May 25. “Tickets and ID cards will be checked through web cameras,” airport director Bhupesh CH Negi tells ANI. “The floor will be marked to ensure physical distancing and hand sanitizers will be installed at the airport.”
2.51 pm: Assistant sub-inspector of police Bhivsen Pingle dies of the coronavirus in Mumbai, says Maharashtra Police.
2.47 pm: A migrant worker in Karnataka collapsed and died at a railway station where he was about to board a special train back home, PTI reports. The 69-year-old man worked in a coffee estate in Chikmagalur. He died at the Chikkabanavara railway station shortly after he got down from a state-run bus which ferried him till there.
2.41 pm: The Maharashtra government has released Rs 67.19 crore through the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund to bear the cost of train travel of the stranded migrant workers, the Chief Minister’s Office says, according to PTI.
2.34 pm: A 43-year-old police constable, who tested positive for Covid-19, succumbs to the disease at a hospital in Maharashtra’s Pune city, PTI reports.
2.26 pm: At least 11 more people, mostly migrant workers, test positive in Chhattisgarh, PTI reports. Out of these, four cases were reported from Rajnandgaon, three from Janjgir-Champa, and one each from Raipur, Surguja, Kanker and Balod districts. The state now has 126 cases of the coronavirus.
2.18 pm: A case has been registered against Congress President Sonia Gandhi in Karnataka in connection with a tweet posted on the party’s official handle alleging the misuse of PM-CARES Fund, PTI reports.
1.52 pm: Madhya Pradesh police arrests two men for recording an inappropriate video of a woman, while she was bathing at a quarantine centre in Sagar district, PTI reports. The accused reportedly threatened her they will upload the clip on social media.
1.25 pm: Karnataka records 116 new cases of the coronavirus since 5pm yesterday till noon today, ANI reports, quoting the state health department. The number of cases in the state is now 1,568 with 41 deaths.
1.22 pm: Railways Minister Piyush Goyal claims that some states did not cooperate with the Centre to run special trains for stranded migrants, according to ANI. “I think there are around 40 lakh people who want to return to West Bengal but only 27 trains have entered the state, so far,” he says.
12.52 pm: “We are going to announce the resumption of more trains in the upcoming days,” Goyal adds. “We have also permitted the operation of shops at railway stations. However, only takeaway orders will be allowed.”
12.44 pm: Railways Minister Piyush Goyal says booking for train tickets will resume tomorrow at around 1.7 lakh common service centres across the country, ANI reports. Booking services will also begin at counters of railways stations in the next two to three days, he adds.
12.39 pm: The ministry says vulnerable persons, including the elderly, pregnant women, and passengers with health issues should avoid air travel. Passengers will be provided a safety kit that includes a three-layer surgical mask, face shield and sanitiser by airlines at the boarding gate.
12.37 pm: Passengers are also advised to avoid using lavatories and against any non-essential movement in the aisles during the journey.
12.35 pm: Passengers will not be permitted to consume eatables inside the aircraft during the journey. No meal services will be provided onboard. Newspapers and magazines will not be available, the ministry says.
12.30 pm: Ministry of Civil Aviation issues general instructions for domestic travellers. Only those passengers with confirmed web check-in will be allowed to enter the airport. Passengers will be required to wear protective gear and face masks. Only one check-in bag will be allowed.
12.23 pm: The Ministry of Labour and Employment writes to the Andhra Pradesh government, asking the state to “expedite” the increase in the daily working limit from eight hours to 12 hours and introduce fixed-term employment in order “to address Covid-19,” The Business Standard reports.
12.17 pm: The European Union is likely to announce the “world’s greenest recovery package” next week, as it seeks to curb pollution and save its economy from the pandemic, Bloomberg reports.
The package will include a proposal for the EU’s next trillion-euro budget for the years 2021-2027 and a “recovery instrument” of at least half-a-trillion euros specifically designed to cushion the economic blow from the outbreak.
12.14 pm: As many as 59 more people test positive for the coronavirus in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, in the last 24 hours, PTI reports. The district, which is the worst-affected in the state, now has 2,774 cases with 107 deaths.
12.04 pm: Rajasthan records three more deaths and 83 new cases, PTI reports. The number of cases in the state is now 6,098, with 150 deaths.
11.56 am: Andhra Pradesh reports 45 cases of coronavirus in 24 hours, ANI reports, quoting the state health department’s figures. The tally of cases in the state is now 2,452 with 54 deaths.
11.53 am: Indian Railways will begin 100 pairs of special trains from June 1 and bookings for these trains will be beginning from today, May 21 at 10.00 am. The list of trains includes both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned trains.
11.51 am: Public bus services resume in Chandigarh, ANI reports. Not more than 15 passengers will be allowed to board the bus at a time to ensure physical distancing.
11.48 am: The number of cases in Jharkhand rises to 290, ANI reports, quoting the state health department’s figures.
11.46 am: More than 50 million people in India do not have access to effective handwashing, according to a study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, PTI reports.
11.36 am: The Airports Authority of India issues standard operating procedures for resuming domestic flight operations from May 25. The key guidelines include mandatory use of Aarogya Setu app for those above 14 years, sanitation of baggage before entering the airport and restrictions on vehicles entering the departure zone, among others.
11.26 am: Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki district emerges as the new Covid-19 hotspot in the state, with 95 new cases reported in a single day, according to PTI. District Magistrate Aadarsh Kumar says that out of the 245 samples sent for testing between May 15 and May 16, 95 have been found positive.
11.24 am: The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation directs civic officials to acquire at least 100 beds, including ten in the intensive care unit, from private nursing homes and small hospitals in all 24 wards of Mumbai, PTI reports. This came as Mumbai records 1,372 new Covid-19 cases and 41 deaths today.
11.22 am: The Gautam Buddha Nagar district administration releases a list of containment zones based on two categories, ANI reports. A total of 63 zones have been identified. Out of these, 37 come under ‘category 1’ and 26 are listed under ‘category 2’.
10.43 am: As per the guidelines issued by the Airports Authority of India, it is the state government’s responsibility to ensure the availability of connectivity to the airports. Passengers have been asked to reach the airport two hours before the scheduled time of departure and are advised against using trolleys to carry their luggage.
10.18 am: The Indian Council of Medical Research says in the last 24 hours, 1,03,532 samples have been tested. The total number of samples tested is 26,15,920 so far.
10.16 am: One new case reported from Assam’s Barpeta Medical College. This takes the state’s total count to 189, including four deaths, says Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
10.15 am: The Central Industrial Security Force or airport staff will check if the passenger is registered on the app at the entry gate itself. However, the app is not mandatory for children below the age of 14 years.
10.14 am: Airports Authority of India issues Standard Operating Procedures to all its airports for starting domestic commercial flight operations from May 25. It says all passengers must compulsorily be registered with the Aarogya Setu app on their phones.
9.59 am: As many as 502 people have been fined Rs 59,800 in Madurai for not wearing masks, reports ANI.
9.48 am: Five people, who had returned from West Bengal, have tested positive in Himachal Pradesh. With this, the state’s tally is now 116, says Special Secretary (Health) Nipun Jindal.
9.38 am: A deputy superintendent at Central Jail No. 11 has tested positive, Tihar official tells ANI. Contact tracing exercise is on, he adds.
9.26 am: 26 people have tested positive at King George’s Medical University in Lucknow.
9.20 am: China reports 33 new cases, including 31 asymptomatic ones. Of these new infections, 28 are from Wuhan where 11 million people are being tested in order to prevent a second wave.
9.05 am: In the last 24 hours, India recorded 5,609 new cases and 132 deaths.
9.04 am: India’s tally rises to 1,12,359 with 5,609 new infections, according to the Union health ministry. The toll is now 3,435.
9.01 am: The special Air India flight from Sydney to New Delhi takes off with 224 Indians onboard.
8.32 am: The Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation partially resumed the intra-state bus service from today.
8.31 am: Global charity Oxfam is set to lay off around 1,450 employees and stop operations in 18 countries. In a press release, the charity says its finances have been deeply impacted by the pandemic. Many Oxfam affiliates have been hit by closing of shops and cancelled fund-raising events.
7.33 am: US President Donald Trump once again attacks China for failing to contain Covid-19 at its early stages. He hints that China deliberately chose not to act.
7.31 am: A two-day-old baby, who was born prematurely, dies in South Africa. This is the country’s first neonatal mortality related to Covid-19. “The mother had tested positive for Covid-19 and the child subsequently tested positive for Covid-19 as well,” Minister of Health Zwelini Mkhize tells Cape Town ETC. “It is important to appreciate the complexities of the underlying condition of prematurity.”
South Africa has so far reported 18,003 cases with 339 deaths.
7.30 am: Delhi Police personnel check the temperature of people at Okhla vegetable market.
7.25 am: Barabanki reports 95 new cases, says the district magistrate. The total number of cases in the district is now 124.
7.21 am: United States records 1,561 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to AFP.
7.19 am: WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warns that the pandemic is a long way from being over.
7.17 am: The world witnessed the largest daily rise in global cases on Wednesday, BBC reports citing the World Health Organization. The UN health body says 106,000 new infections had been reported to them in the last 24 hours. With this, the total number of cases worldwide is now close to five million.
7.15 am: Here are the top updates from Wednesday
- The Union health ministry said that India’s coronavirus recovery rate has gone up to 39.62%. India recorded its biggest single-day rise on Wednesday, with 5,611 new coronavirus cases. The nationwide tally is now 1,06,750 and 3,303 patients have died so far.
- The Centre announced that domestic flights will begin to operate in a “calibrated manner” from May 25. Both domestic and international flights were suspended in March. The Ministry of Home Affairs modified its order announcing the fourth phase of the lockdown to allow air travel. The Indian railways, meanwhile, will on Thursday open online bookings for the 200 more trains it will run from June 1.
- Tamil Nadu reported over 700 coronavirus cases and three deaths. The state’s tally rose to 13,191. The toll reached 87 with three more deaths. The cases in Maharashtra crossed 39,000 and the toll stood at 1,390.
- Foreign investors have pulled out an estimated $26 billion (over Rs 1.9 lakh crore) from developing Asian economies due to the outbreak, according to a report by the Congressional Research Center. Out of this, more than $16 billion (Rs 1.2 lakh crore) was pulled out of India.
- The World Bank said that the coronavirus pandemic will push over 6 crore people into extreme poverty, even as it announced emergency operations worth $160 billion (Rs 12.1 lakh crore) in 100 developing countries to fight the virus.
- Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Tuesday blamed people entering illegally from India for spreading the coronavirus in his country. His comment came amid escalating border tensions between the two nations.