Updated: March 24, 2020 11:34:40 pm
Coronavirus latest updates: In his second address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a complete lockdown across the country for three weeks from midnight as India reported its 10th coronavirus-linked death after a 65-year-old patient passed away in Mumbai, taking the toll due to COVID-19 to three in the metropolis.
“From 12 am tonight there will be a complete lockdown across the country,” PM Modi said. The COVID-19 count continued to surge across the country, with number of cases crossing 500 on Tuesday even as Uttar Pradesh joined 30 states and Union Territories to go into complete lockdown to break the chain of transmission of the infection and prevent the outbreak from moving to the next stage.
So far, 37 persons have been discharged. Maharashtra and Kerala are the worst hit, with number of cases touching 107 and 95 respectively. In fact, Maharashtra and Kerala account for 40 per cent of the total cases.
Meanwhile, in an extraordinary move, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the head of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games by a year. “I proposed to postpone for about a year and president Bach responded with 100 percent agreement,” Shinzo Abe told reporters. Globally, the number of deaths due to the coronavirus soared to 14,652, with more than 334,000 people infected.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a slew of economic relief measures to shield businesses and taxpayers from the lockdown imposed in the wake of coronavirus menace. Meanwhile, the Centre on Tuesday asked the states and union territories to clamp curfew wherever necessary in the wake of people defying lockdown orders in several parts of the country.
PM Modi announces full lockdown for 3 weeks
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a complete lockdown across the country for three weeks from midnight while setting aside a Rs 15,000 crore corpus to develop health care facilities and infrastructure. “If we are not able to manage the upcoming 21 days (of nationwide complete lockdown), we will be pushed back by 21 years,” PM Modi said.
“Rs 15,000 crore allotted for coronavirus testing facilities, PPEs, ICUs, ventilators and training medical workers,” the PM said. PM Modi also said social distancing was the only option to stay safe.
In his last address, PM Modi called for a “Janata curfew”, which was observed on Sunday, and urged citizens to maintain “resolve and restraint” to fight the disease.
Earlier in the day, PM Modi interacted with senior journalists via video links and asked the media to act as a link between the government and people and provide continuous feedback at both national and regional levels. PM Modi emphasised the need to tackle the spread of pessimism, negativity and rumour-mongering, PTI reported.
“He underlined the importance of social distancing, asking media to generate awareness about its importance, inform people about the lockdown decision by states, and also highlight the impact of spread of the virus through inclusion of international data and case studies about other countries in the papers,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Toll rises to 10, third death in Mumbai
In Maharashtra, a 65-year-old person passed away in Mumbai, taking the death toll due to COVID-19 to three in Maximum City. The man recently returned from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and had underlying conditions of high blood pressure and severe diabetes.
He later complained of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said in a statement. The patient was brought to the Kasturba Hospital in Mumbai on March 20 for treatment, but his health condition deteriorated further.
Sitharaman announces relief measures for economy
Amid businesses and commercial activities taking a hit due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman extended the last date for filing income tax returns for FY19 to June 30 while assuring that the government would soon come out with an economic package.
“The last date for filing income tax returns for the financial year 18-19 is extended to June 30, 2020. For delayed payments interest rate has been reduced from 12 per cent to 9 per cent,” Nirmala Sitharaman, who is heading the “COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force”, said.
The Finance Minister also waived minimum bank charges for savings bank accounts. “Debit card holders who withdraw cash from any bank’s ATM can do it free of charge for the next 3 months,” she said.
In a breather to businesses and traders unable to meet deadlines due to coronavirus outbreak, Sitharaman also extended the last date for filing March, April, May 2020 GST returns and composition returns to June 30.
Northeast reports first COVID-19 case
A resident of Imphal West district who came back from England tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday. This is the first case to be reported in Northeast. The woman had reached Delhi from London on March 18 and taken another flight to Kolkata, where she stayed for a few days with fever and a sore throat, a statement issued by Health Services Director K Rajo Singh said. From there she took a flight to Imphal via Agartala on March 21.
A statewide curfew was declared in Manipur after the case was reported. Tripura has identified 11 high risk contacts who came in touch with the girl from Manipur. Meanwhile, Assam, which has not reported a positive case so far, announced a complete lockdown in the state from 6 pm, March 24 till March 31.
Delhi Police clears protest site at Shaheen Bagh
With Delhi tightening curbs on assembly and movement of people in the wake of coronavirus, the police cleared the Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest on Tuesday morning. The unique sit-in protest against the citizenship law, conducted mostly by women, had been on for more than 100 days.
DCP Southeast RP Meena said, “We had requested the protesters to leave in the morning due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the lockdown that has been imposed. They refused and action was taken. Violators have been detained and the site has been cleared.” Joint CP (southern range) Devesh Srivastava said that nine people, including six women, have been detained.
WATCH| Shaheen Bagh sit-in protest cleared by Delhi Police amid coronavirus lockdown
COVID-19 count in Delhi-NCR, so far, stands at 49 cases (18 recovered) and one death. Section 144 is in place in Delhi after the Arvind Kejriwal-led government announced a lockdown as a precautionary measure against coronavirus. Before this, a protest outside Jamia had been called off last week.
Bengaluru uses drones to spray disinfectants
Coming to Karnataka, seven new coronavirus cases were reported on Tuesday, taking the total infections in the state to 41. Meanwhile, Bengaluru’s local civic body BBMP used drones to spray disinfectants in an effort to sanitise public spaces. “Mechanical sweepers to be deployed for intensive cleaning. Jetting machines from BWSSB will also be employed in this exercise,” Bengaluru Mayor M Goutham Kumar said.
The Karnataka Minority Welfare Haj and Wakf Department has issued a notification calling for a suspension of daily prayers, including jummah (Friday) prayers in mosques across the state until March 31.
Is a nasal, throat swab sufficient to rule out virus?
A new study in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology shows that the novel coronavirus can remain in the faeces of patients for five weeks after their respiratory samples test negative. The researchers analysed respiratory and faecal matter of 74 COVID-19 patients from January 16 to March 15 at the Fifth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University in Zhuhai, China. In 55% of cases (41 of 74 patients), the respiratory samples (throat swabs) tested positive for coronavirus for 16.7 days, and faecal matter tested positive for 27.9 days after the first onset of symptoms, the study found. The implication is this: Even if a confirmed case returns negative for the novel coronavirus in a nasal swab test, the virus may still be in body.
I&B ministry to states: Ensure continuity of print, electronic media
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has directed all states and union territories to ensure “operational continuity” of print and electronic media in view of the coronavirus outbreak. In a letter to the chief secretaries of all states and union territories on March 23, the ministry said robust and essential information dissemination networks like TV channels, news agencies “are of utmost importance to ensure timely and authentic information dissemination”.
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Kerala appoints 276 doctors to tackle rising cases
The Kerala government has appointed 276 doctors in the health department to strengthen its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the backdrop of rising cases in the state. The doctors were selected by the state Public Service Commission from the existing rank list and appointed to be the part of the health ministry to fight the coronavirus, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in a Facebook post. Kerala went in for a total lockdown from midnight on Monday with 28 new positive cases, the highest on a single day, being reported, taking the total number of people under treatment in the state to 91 and over 64,000 under surveillance.
India has tremendous capacity in eradicating coronavirus: WHO
The World Health Organisation said India has “tremendous capacity” in eradicating coronavirus just like it did in eradicating small pox and polio. “India has tremendous capacities. It is exceptionally important that countries like India lead the way to show the world what can be done,” executive director of the World Health Organisation, Michael Ryan, said. While India attained the polio-free status in 2014, the country got rid of smallpox in 1977.
Global death toll crosses 16,500; pandemic accelerating, warns WHO
The new coronavirus pandemic is is clearly “accelerating”, the World Health Organisation warned, but said it was still possible to ” change the trajectory” of the outbreak. Globally, 16,572 people have died due to the pandemic and a total of 381,293 positive cases have been confirmed.
Europe became the new epicentre of the outbreak that first emerged in China late last year with Italy reporting the highest number of deaths at 6,077 and the number of positive cases at 63,927. China has reported 3,153 deaths and 81,514 cases so far. Also, Spain has reported 2,311 deaths, Iran 1,812, France 860 and UK 335. In US, after California, Connecticut, Delaware,Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia have implemented stay-at-home orders.
China to lift lockdown in most of virus epicentre Hubei
Chinese authorities announced Tuesday they would end a two-month lockdown of most of virus-hit Hubei province at midnight. People with a clean bill of health will be allowed to leave, AP quoted the provincial government as saying. The city of Wuhan, where the outbreak started in late December, will remain locked down until April 8. China barred people from leaving or entering Wuhan starting January 23.
Meanwhile, China reopened a section of its iconic Great Wall to visitors, as the country limped back to normalcy after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The Badaling section of the Great Wall will be open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. The daily number of visitors will be capped at 19,500. Around 60 kilometers from Beijing, it’s the most popular section of the wall for tourists.
Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: Are smokers at high risk form coronavirus? | Can Vitamin-C prevent or cure coronavirus infection? | What exactly is community spread of coronavirus? | How long can the Covid-19 virus survive on a surface? | Amid the lockdown, what is allowed, what is prohibited?
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