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Coronavirus India updates March 17: COVID-19 claims third victim as confirmed cases rise to 137

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Latest News Updates: India reported its third death from the novel coronavirus Tuesday as a 64-year-old man from Maharashtra who had returned from Dubai passed away in Mumbai's Kasturba Hospital.

Written by Abantika Ghosh , Tora Agarwala , Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai, New Delhi |
Updated: March 18, 2020 8:03:33 am
Coronavirus India updates March 17: Third death reported from Maharashtra, positive cases rise to 126 Indian health workers spray disinfectants as a precautionary measure against COVID-19 in a residential area in Jammu, India, Saturday, March 14, 2020. (AP Photo)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) India updates: Even as India tightens the lockdown and advocates social distancing to stem the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the country reported its third death due to the virus on Tuesday. The latest fatality was a 64-year-old man from Mumbai who had a travel history to Dubai. At 39, Maharashtra has reported the maximum number of cases in the country.

Workers of central railway sanitising the Mumbai local train. Central Railways have swung into action to protect passengers from coronavirus transmission in the crowded trains after the locals reaching at CSMT on Tuesday. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

Besides, two Noida residents have tested positive for the pandemic, taking the number of positive cases in India to 137, including 14 who have recovered and three deaths. So far, 39 cases have been reported in Maharashtra, 26 in Kerala, 15 in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, 11 in Karnataka, 8 in Delhi, 6 in Ladakh, 5 in Telangana, 3 in Jammu and Kashmir, 4 in Rajasthan, and one each in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha and Punjab.

ICMR announces doubling of testing labs

With the number of cases showing no signs of abating, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has announced the doubling of testing laboratories. “By the end of this week, there will be 72 functional ICMR labs for COVID-19 testing and also 49 others in the government system— these are DBT, DRDO, CSIR and government medical colleges. We are also in talks with 51 NABL accredited private laboratories to start testing. On behalf of ICMR, we appeal to them to give the tests free of cost in the national interest,” said Dr Balram Bhargava, secretary department of health research.

Commuters taking precaution by wearing available masks at the crowded railway station at CSMT, Mumbai on Tuesday. (Express photo by Prashant Nadkar)

In addition, he said, two laboratories with the capacity of processing 1400 samples each per day are being readied. More of these machines are being procured.

On private laboratories, he said that SOPs have already been put together and laboratories will have to notify real time the results of the tests to the local officials of the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme.

In a press briefing in the evening, Health Ministry officials said that over 5,700 people who came in contact with the 137 confirmed cases have been placed under surveillance. They also stated that guildlines have been formulated for dead body management, infection prevention, control measures, environmental disinfection.

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CR cancels 23 trains citing Covid-19 measures, non-occupancy

The Central Railway has announced the cancellation of 23 outstation trains saying the step was taken to contain the spread of coronavirus and also due to non-occupancy of trains. The list includes some popular trains originating from
Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur like the Deccan Express, Nandigram Express and Pragati Express from Wednesday till April 1, a CR release said.

Parliament session to continue as per schedule

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday expressed disappointment over a letter by some MPs to curtail the ongoing Parliament session saying “we are representatives of the 130 crore people of the country”, news agency ANI reported. At the BJP Parliamentary party meeting, PM Modi said the session will run till April 3 and asked the MPs to visit their constituencies to make people aware about coronavirus. He also lauded the medical staff for their role in tackling the infection and the role of media for spreading awareness.

Coronavirus india, Coronavirus India updates March 17, Third coronavirus death in India, Maharashtra man dies today, Total coronavirus cases in india today, India news, PM Modi, Indian express Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, with other Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmakers return to the house after a briefing by Indian Health Minister about the new coronavirus at the BJP parliamentary committee meeting at the Parliament in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (AP Photo)

GoAir suspends int’l services, offers leave without pay for employees

Budget carrier GoAir has announced suspending international operations and offering leave without pay programme for its staff on a rotational basis, amid sharp decline in air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement to PTI, the airline said the sharp decline in air travel that it was experiencing was “unprecedented”.

Manipur fourth state to ban entry of domestic tourists

Manipur became the fourth Northeast state to issue a temporary ban on domestic tourists as a precautionary step during COVID-19. In a notification, the government announced that issuing of Inner Line Permits (ILPs) will remain suspended till April 15. Manipur was brought under the ILP regime recently after Citizenship (Amendment) Act was passed in December 2019.

Looking into complaints of unclean facilities: Harsh Vardhan

Addressing the Rajya Sabha, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “In a huge country like India, these measures and facilities have been put up in emergencies. So there are chances that the hospitals may not be clean. We are looking into complaints and are working to better facilities.” He also requested cooperation from the MPs.

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No trains if people don’t stop non-essential travel: Thackeray

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday said the government would be forced to take the “harsh decision” to stop bus and train services in Mumbai if people don’t avoid unnecessary travel. Talking to reporters after the weekly state cabinet meeting, Thackeray also appealed people to avoid unnecessary travel and gathering. He said there would be no holiday for seven days to government offices as was reported in a section of media. Thackeray the administration was working on allowing functioning of government offices with 50 per cent strength.

Since Monday, the state government began marking all those who have been medically advised to self-quarantine with a stamp in indelible ink and the words ‘Home Quarantine’ in a bid to ensure they isolate themselves for 14 days. The ink is the same that is used to mark voters at elections.

Coronavirus india, Coronavirus India updates March 17, Third coronavirus death in India, Maharashtra man dies today, Total coronavirus cases in india today, India news, PM Modi, Indian express A security guard and visitors wear masks as a precaution against COVID-19 at the entrance to the zoo in Kolkata, India, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo)

Travel restrictions in India

The government has imposed fresh travel restrictions, prohibiting the entry of all passengers from “the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and United Kingdom” and extending compulsory quarantine for passengers from Qatar, the UAE, Oman and Kuwait too. Until now, quarantine was mandatory only for passengers from China, Italy, Iran, Korea, France, Spain and Germany.

An Indian boy tries to sell face masks at a traffic intersection in Mumbai, India, Sunday, March 15, 2020. (AP Photo)

Who is the third coronavirus victim in India

The 64-year-old man, who died in Mumbai’s Kasturba Hospital, had returned from Dubai on March 8 and was tested positive after he complained of breathlessness. His wife and son have also been tested positive. According to PTI, BMC Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi said the deceased was suffering from other health issues as well. “The patient had hypertension and severe pneumonia. Suddenly, his heart rate went very high before he died, he said.

The two other casualties    

While a 76-year-old man from Karnataka’s Kalaburagi who returned from Saudi Arabia had died on last Tuesday, a 68-year-old woman in Delhi who had tested positive had passed away at the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital on Friday night.

Taj Mahal, all ASI-protected monuments shut till March 31

The Archaeological Survey of India has ordered shutting down of all its centrally protected monuments, and cancelled all permissions given for filming, photography and cultural events within its premises till March 31 as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus. A formal order was issued a day after Tourism and Culture Minister Prahlad Patel had announced the move and instructed ASI to do the needful to contain the spread of the virus in the country.

There are more than 3,000 ASI-protected monuments across the country, including Taj Mahal in Agra, Red Fort and Qutab Minar in Delhi, and other UNESCO world heritage sites like Hampi in Karnataka and the Ajanta Caves in Aurangabad.

A Delhi Transport Corporation worker disinfects a passenger bus as a precaution against COVID-19 in New Delhi, India, Monday, March 16, 2020. (AP Photo)

Odisha makes it mandatory for foreign travellers to report on return

In an attempt to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, the Odisha Government has made it mandatory for foreign travellers to register their names on return to the state and avail an incentive of Rs 15,000 for registration and home isolation. Anyone who comes to Odisha from abroad has to register himself/herself mandatorily with the toll free number 104 or the online portal. https://covid19.odisha.gov.in, Chief Secretary A K Tripathy said on Monday. This should be done within 24 hours of arrival with basic details and phone numbers. However, advance registration before arrival will be highly preferable, Tripathy said, adding they will be required to be in home quarantine for 14 days.

Rajasthan bans all 50-plus gathering in public places till March 31

The Rajasthan government has banned all gatherings at public places exceeding 50 people till March 31 to fight the coronavirus outbreak, said an official statement, PTI reported. The ban was imposed as per directions of Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot who decided to resort to the precautionary measure after a high-level meeting on late Monday night to take stock of the situation, the statement added. The ban will be in force till March 31 after which the situation will be reviewed and appropriate decision taken, it added.

The Chief Minister said the state government is constantly monitoring the situation and is taking all precautionary steps to keep it under control. He said the government has decided to ban gatherings of people in all tourist spots, museums, historical buildings, forts, public fairs, animal hats, parks, sports grounds and other public places in the state.

With first COVID-19 case, Pondicherry goes in for shutdown

Puducherry reported its first coronavirus case today even as Chief Minister V Narayanasamy announced closure of all schools, colleges, cinemas and gymnasium centres in the union territory till this month-end as a precautionary measure. A 68-year-old woman tested positive in Mahe, an enclave of the union territory in Kerala, and her condition was stable in the government general hospital there, director of Health and Family Welfare Services Mohan Kumar said, PTI reported.

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