Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik on Sunday said the state decided to allow 25 flights to take off and land each day, and that they would gradually increase the number. This came after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the state needed more time to prepare to resume flight operations.
Domestic flights are set to resume from Monday, though there is confusion about states issuing separate guidelines, including quarantine details. Though the Centre has not mandated quarantine of passengers, some states have made it compulsory.
India on Sunday recorded 6,767 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours – the biggest single-day jump in figures so far. With this, the total number of cases reached 1,31,868 and the toll rose to 3,867 after 147 new fatalities.
The health ministry said that the country’s health care infrastructure must be ramped up for the next two months to tackle the spread of the infection.
More than 53 lakh cases of Covid-19 have been reported worldwide, as well as at least 3,40,000 deaths, 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.
Here are the biggest updates of the day:
8.56 pm: Ahmedabad records over 10,000 cases now, as the number of Covid-19 patients in the Gujarat city increases by 279. The city now has 10,078 cases, PTI quotes a health official as saying.
8.50 pm: West Bengal’s coronavirus cases rise by 208, it’s highest single-day increase so far, reports PTI. The state now has 3,667 cases of the virus.
8.15 pm: Maharashtra writes to Kerala requesting 50 specialist doctors and 100 nurses from the southern state on a temporary basis. “Both these two cities [Mumbai and Pune] are densely populated and hence the spread of infection is rapid,” a letter from the chief of the Directorate of Medical Education and Research to Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja says. “However, we require in addition more doctors and nurses for the management of COVID-19 patients in these two cities.”
The letter adds that the medical workers will be paid, provided accommodation, food and personal protective equipment.
8.09 pm: Twenty-one more people test positive for coronavirus in Gautam Buddh Nagar, reports PTI. This takes the total number of cases in the district to 345.
7.58 pm: The Ministry of Home Affairs issues its Standard Operating Protocol for Indian nationals stranded abroad.
7.31 pm: Delhi is following the Centre’s guidelines and will not quarantine domestic passengers, reports Hindustan Times.
7.30 pm: West Bengal says it will resume flights on May 28, not tomorrow, as the government is busy with relief work undertaken after Cyclone Amphan hit the state last week, reports ANI. Flights will take off from Kolkata from May 28 in reduced numbers.
7.26 pm: Maharashtra has its highest increase of cases in 24 hours as its numbers rise by 3,041 to 50,231. The toll is 1,635. This is the eighth consecutive day Maharashtra has recorded more than 2,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, an unidentified official tells PTI.
7.15 pm: Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri says flights in the UDAN, or regional connectivity, scheme will also resume. “Preference being given to flights connecting North-East region, hill states, islands & short haul routes,” he tweets.
6.38 pm: Maharashtra says it will allow 25 domestic passenger flights into Mumbai daily, reports ANI. The number will be gradually increased, ANI quotes state minister Nawab Malik as saying. Guidelines for domestic air travel in the state will be released soon, he adds.
6.35 pm: Uttar Pradesh says it will home quarantine those arriving into the state including air travellers, reports PTI. Principal Secretary Medical and Health Amit Mohan Prasad says travellers can be tested for the coronavirus on the sixth day of quarantine and leave if their results are negative. If travellers do not have home quarantine, they will be quarantined at a facility. Travellers in the state for a brief duration will not need to be quarantined if they show their return details.
Those entering the state will also have to register themselves on http://reg.upcovid.in.
6.24 pm: Chennai has 587 new cases today, reports ANI. The total cases in the city is 10,576. The state has 765 new cases in total, and 16,277 overall. The toll in the state is at 111.
6.17 pm: There are now 112 cases of the virus in the Border Security Force, reports Hindustan Times. Two news cases were reported today.
6.12 pm: Three employees at Hyundai’s factory test positive for the coronavirus, reports Reuters. Hyundai began operations at its plant on May 8. The car manufacturer has factories in Sriperumbudur and Irungattukottai in Tamil Nadu.
The test results of 16 others who came in contact with the three infected employees are due in the next few days, an official told Reuters.
5.31 pm: Tripura Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath says the state is planning to allow schools to resume working from June 15. “We are planning to open schools from June 1 and resume classes from June 15,” PTI quotes him as saying. “Before we start academic sessions all schools would be sanitised properly and supply of drinking water would be ensured. We would also announce their results before resuming the classes.”
5.02 pm: Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati says the Congress and BJP are both to blame for the situation migrants are currently in, ANI reports.
She says migrant workers should have been given some time to return to their home states before lockdown was announced in March. Mass migration had occurred from small villages to larger cities because backward sections of society were unable to make money. She adds that the Congress was in power and ruled many states for several decades.
4.28 pm: The Goa Forward Party said the state’s standard operating procedure to begin domestic flights from Monday is “loose”, PTI reports. The party asks that the SOP be changed, if not they will protest from Monday. “The SOP is a recipe for (coronavirus) community transmission,” PTI quotes GFP chief Vijay Sardesai as saying. “We will agitate if it is not changed by Monday.”
At least 15 flights are supposed to land in Goa on Monday.
3.39 pm: China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi says his country too is a victim of the pandemic, AP reports. “To our regret, in addition to the raging of the new coronavirus, a political virus is also spreading in the US which is to take every chance to attack and discredit China,” Wang says. The US has repeatedly criticised China for its handling of the virus and accused it of manufacturing it in a laboratory, as well as keeping information about it under wraps.
Wang says that lawsuits filed against China in connection with the coronavirus have “zero factual basis in law or international precedence”, and adds that such lawsuits trample on the international rule of law.
3.17 pm: The aviation ministry has called a meeting of airport operators and airlines today to discuss the procedure for resuming domestic flights, ANI reports. This comes after multiple states have asked the Centre to reconsider starting domestic flights from Monday.
2.12 pm: The government also issues guidelines for domestic travel.
2.10 pm: The Centre releases guidelines for international arrivals. This includes 14 days mandatory quarantine – seven days of institutional quarantine at own cost followed by seven days of home isolation. It also states that use of Aarogya Setu app is mandatory in serious cases.
2.06 pm: Thackeray says they want to restart flight operations methodically, according to News18. “We want to evaluate a lot of things, like how many employees will be needed at airport and if they shouldn’t be staying in containment zones,” he adds. “What about the travel of passengers from the airport?”
2.02 pm: On resuming domestic flight operations, the Maharashtra chief minister says he spoke to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, reports Mumbai Mirror. “I’ve told him that we are keen to start air travel but we need some time to plan,” he adds.
1.58 pm: Uddhav Thackeray says the state government has criticised him for not announcing a financial package to deal with the coronavirus crisis, according to Mumbai Mirror. “We will provide for everything, but right now the focus is on healthcare,” he says. “Packages have been announced in the past as well but many of them were nothing more than hollow promises. Getting treatment is crucial, more important right now. Giving food to people is important. It goes beyond just some package announcements.”
1.55 pm: Maharashtra has conducted 3.5 lakh tests for the coronavirus, says Thackeray. He also urges people to donate blood to tackle the pandemic. “Two months ago, I had made an appeal that blood banks are falling short of blood and you all responded to it,” he adds. “Now, we need people to come forward to donate blood. We only have blood to last for another 10-15 days. So, I appeal donors to come forward, once again.”
1.52 pm: The Maharashtra chief minister says the state is ramping up the healthcare system, Mumbai Mirror reports. “The fight is going to intensify as the virus multiplies, but there is nothing to get scared of,” he says in the address. “We are adding to our healthcare capacity – field hospitals are being set up, ICU beds are being added there.”
1.47 pm: Thackeray urges people to take more precautions. “We have to be prepared for monsoon,” he adds. “It’s best that we continue to take precautions and make sure your drink boiled water, free of germs. We need to beware of monsoon illnesses. If you have any symptoms, don’t ignore them. Check with a doctor.”
1.42 pm: Uddhav Thackeray says that Maharashtra has seen a sharp rise in the number of coronavirus cases, according to Mumbai Mirror. “The virus is multiplying,” he adds. “We still need to follow all the instructions we have been following for maintaining hygiene and social distancing. This is not an ideal situation, I understand.”
1.40 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray addresses the state.
1.23 pm: The Tamil Nadu government allows 17 industrial estates in Chennai to resume operations from tomorrow with certain conditions, including restricting the workforce to 25% and implementing safety precautions, reports PTI.
1.10 pm: Assam records four new coronavirus cases, says state Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
1.04 pm: The Bombay High Court has asked Air India and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to respond to a petition of a pilot with the national carrier, claiming the airline has not been following safety measures against the coronavirus while bringing back Indians from other countries, reports PTI.
1.03 pm: Manipur records three new coronavirus cases today, raising the state’s tally to 32, reports ANI.
1.01 pm: The Odisha government makes it compulsory for those returning to the state to undergo 14-day quarantine, reports ANI. In rural areas of the state, the quarantine period will be split between seven days in an institution and seven days at home.
12.27 pm: The Chinese mainland records three new coronavirus cases after the first day with no new cases, the country’s National Health Commission has said, reports Reuters. Friday was the first time that the country had not reported a daily rise in cases since the pandemic began late last year in Wuhan.
12.24 pm: Indians comprise 43.3% of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service’s workforce of 1,50,000 doctors who are at the forefront of the battle against the coronavirus, reports The Indian Express.
12.14 am: The New York Times has dedicated the entire front page of its Sunday edition to Covid-19 patients who died in the United States. The nation has a total of over 16.22 lakh coronavirus cases and 97,087 patients have died so far.
11.10 am: The World Health Organization said that South America is the new epicentre of the pandemic, reports IANS. “We’ve seen many South American countries with increasing numbers of cases and clearly there’s a concern across many of those countries, but certainly the most-affected is Brazil at this point,” WHO Emergencies Programme Executive Director Mike Ryan said at a news briefing on Friday.
11.06 am: Maharashtra is planning to gradually reopen schools from June 15, reports The Indian Express. The state’s Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad has hinted that this will be a gradual, phased process with institutions in non-red zones opening first.
10.38 am: Maharashtra has not made plans to resume flight operations to the state yet, reports PTI. “We have not yet amended this lockdown order issued on May 19,” an official at Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s office.
10.25 am: The Indian Railways will operate 2,600 special trains to ferry nearly 36 lakh migrants over the next 10 days, reports NDTV.
10.21 am: A senior doctor at All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi died of Covid-19 on Saturday. Dr Jitendra Nath Pande was the director of the hospital’s pulmonology department, reports NDTV.
10.19 am: Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has tweeted that it is “extremely ill-advised” to resume flights in red zones. “Mere thermal scanning of passengers inadequate without swabs,” he tweets. “Impossible to have autos, cabs and buses ply in current circumstances. Adding positive passenger will add COVID stress to red zone.”
9.39 am: China records three new confirmed coronavirus cases, says the National Health Commission. Of the new cases, two were imported while one was a local transmission, according to Reuters. The number of confirmed cases stands at 82,974 and the death toll remains unchanged at 4,634.
9.15 am: India’s coronavirus tally rises to 1,31,868 cases and the toll stands at 3,867. The country records 6,767 new infections and 147 deaths in the last 24 hours. This is the biggest single-day jump in the number of cases.
8.37 am: Car rental firm Hertz Global Holdings Inc filed for bankruptcy on Friday after its business suffered a blow due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, reports Reuters.
7.55 am: The Punjab and Chhattisgarh governments have also announced a mandatory 14-days home quarantine for passengers returning to their respective states via flights, buses, and trains, reports NDTV.
7.50 am: India’s health infrastructure needs to be ramped up for the next two months to tackle the spread of the coronavirus, says top officials. “It was pointed out that testing needs to stepped up in some municipal areas to ensure early detection of cases, timely clinical management and a reduction in fatality rate,” reads a press release from a meeting between the health officials. “They also need to be mindful of ramping up the health infrastructure to ensure preparedness for the next two months with special focus on isolation beds with oxygen, ventilators and ICU [intensive care unit] beds.”
7.45 am: People violate physical distancing guidelines in a market in Delhi.
7.40 am: Migrants labourers assembled under a flyover in Punjab’s Jalandhar city on Saturday, reports ANI. They claimed to have been waiting to get themselves registered. “We’re staying under the flyover since five days, we’re not even getting water to drink,” one of them said. “No bus/train has been organised for us.”
7.35 am: In Kerala, schools are being sanitised in Wayanad district before the Class 10 and Class 12 examinations begin from May 26, reports ANI.
7.30 am: Here are the top updates from Saturday:
- India’s total count of cases rose to 1,25,101, including 3,720 deaths. Of these, 69,597 people are being treated, 51,783 people have recovered. The nationwide tally stands at 3,720.
- Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that he did not understand the need to quarantine domestic flight passengers, who have the “green status” on the Aarogya Setu app. This came after the administrations of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Assam and Jammu and Kashmir announced that all passengers arriving by domestic flights will have to undergo either home or institutional quarantine.
- Hundreds of migrant labourers, who thought they were travelling from Mumbai to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, landed up in Odisha’s Rourkela city on Friday, after the “Shramik Special” train they were travelling in took a different route.
- Migrant workers on board the special trains arranged by the Centre running through the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar lodged protests, complaining about the squalid conditions of travel and inordinate delays in train schedules.
- NITI Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant said on Friday that India could have “done much better” in handling the migrant crisis that has arisen due to a nationwide lockdown.
- The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has revised its advisory on the use of hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic against the coronavirus. The ministry’s decision came after the National Task Force, constituted by the Indian Council of Medical Research, reviewed and recommended the use of the drug for coronavirus patients.