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COVID-19 India updates March 18: Govt confirms 276 Indians infected abroad, cases cross 150 in country

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India rose to 151.

Written by Shubhajit Roy , Darshan Devaiah BP , Vishnu Varma , Sakshi Dayal | Bengaluru, Gurgaon, Kochi, New Delhi | March 18, 2020 1:50:55 pm
Coronavirus India updates March 18: Govt confirms 276 Indians infected abroad, cases near 150 in country Indians waiting at a train station wear protective masks as a precaution against a new virus outbreak in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. (AP Photo)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) India updates: A total of 276 Indians have been infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) abroad, including 255 in Iran, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) informed the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. The government’s clarification came a day after reports emerged that a large number of Indian pilgrims in Iran had tested positive for the infection. Out of 276, 12 are also from UAE, five from Italy and one each from Hong Kong, Kuwait, Sri Lanka and Rwanda.

Click here to track all LIVE updates on COVID-19

Within the country, the total number of confirmed cases has climbed to 151, including 14 who have recovered and three deaths, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in its latest bulletin. Maharashtra has reported the maximum number of cases, followed by Kerala, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. While the Indian Army reported its first case, BJP MP Suresh Prabhu isolated himself at his residence for the next 14 days following his return from Saudi Arabia.

Roche Diagnostics India first private firm to get COVID-19 test approval

In a significant development, Swiss firm Roche Diagnostics India has received the license for conducting coronavirus tests after approval from drug regulator DCGI, making it the first private firm to get such permission after the government decided to allow accredited private labs to test for COVID-19, news agency PTI reported. As per a senior official, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) is now assessing giving license to another private diagnostic firm, BioMerieux, which has also sought approval to conduct tests for coronavirus.

4 passengers with ‘home quarantine’ stamp deboarded from train

Four Germany-returned passengers were deboarded from coach number G4 & G5 of Garib Rath at Palghar station, around 100 kms from Mumbai, when travel ticket examiners and co-passengers raised an alarm seeing a stamp on their hands. They were headed to Surat. The four passengers were screened at the Mumbai international airport, where they were found negative for coronavirus.

Latest coronavirus updates in India Lucknow: Train passengers use masks amid coronavirus outbreak. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

However, they were advised 14 days of home quarantine, as mentioned in the stamp on their hands. After being de-boarded, they were taken to a government hospital in Palghar.

Karnataka under lockdown till March 31

Karnataka will be under lockdown till March 31. All public places including malls, cinema theatre, schools and colleges, and other places will remain shut. Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa has formed four task-force teams to contain the spread of COVID-19 and released Rs 200 crore for preventing the epidemic.

According to Karnataka health minister, the state has reported two more new cases, taking the total number of positive cases in the state to 13.

Mass gatherings in Gurgaon restricted to 50 people; bars, spas to be shut

With the number of coronavirus cases rising in India, mass gatherings in Gurgaon have been ordered to be limited to a maximum of 50 people. A decision to this effect has been made during a meeting between the district administration and Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Rajiv Arora, Wednesday morning. Speaking to the media after the meeting, Arora said, “Following suggestions from a lot of people and recommendations of the Deputy Commissioner, it has been decided that mass gatherings in Gurgaon district would be limited to 50 people. This will extend to all gatherings, whether they be social, religious, academic, or personal weddings or functions.”

Latest coronavirus updates in India A medical staff checks Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s temperature before holding a press conference in Lok Bhawan in Lucknow on Wednesday. (Express photo by Vishal Srivastav)

In light of the coronavirus outbreak, the Gurgaon district magistrate, meanwhile, directed that all shopping malls should also “suspend” operations “with immediate effect” until March 31. Pharmacies, medical establishments, grocery stores and super markets, however, are excluded from this order. In addition to the swimming pools, gyms, schools, colleges, clubs, night clubs, cinema halls, and theatres, that had already been directed to remain closed last week, the DM has also directed that all spas, lounges and bars, as well as weekly bazaars suspend operations until March 31. Read more here

HRD Ministry orders all educational institutions to postpone exams for 10 days

HRD Ministry orders all educational institutions to postpone ongoing examinations for 10 days in view of the COVID-19 outbreak in India. This includes CBSE Board examination, university examination & JEE (MAIN).

Meghalaya govt shuts tourist spots

The Meghalaya government on Wednesday decided to shut tourist spots in the state as part of its measures to prevent any possible transmission and outbreak of novel coronavirus. “All tourist spots in the state of Meghalaya including parks and recreational areas are hereby advised to close till March 31,” the order said.

Indian Army reports first coronavirus case

The Indian Army on Wednesday reported its first case of the COVID-19 disease after a 34-year-old soldier in Leh was tested positive. The jawan was on leave and he came in contact with his father, who had returned from a pilgrimage to Iran on February 27.  His father, however, was only quarantined on February 29 at the Ladakh Heart Foundation. He tested positive for COVID-19 on March 6 and has been in isolation at SNM Hospital since then.

Latest coronavirus updates in India Workers sanitise a local train in Mumbai. (Express photo: Prashant Nadkar)

The jawan, who reported back to duty on March 2, was helping his family during his father’s quarantine. He also spent some time at Chuchot village, where his family resides. The soldier was quarantined on March 7 and tested positive on March 16, and has been isolated at the same hospital as his father. The jawan’s sister, wife and two children have also been quarantined at SNM Heart Foundation.

Fresh case reported in Pune

A fresh case of coronavirus has been reported Wednesday in Pune taking the number of positive cases in Pune to eight, and 10 in PCMC. The person has a travel history to France and the Netherlands. With this, the total number of patients in Maharashtra, which has reported maximum cases, reaches 42. Also, the wholesale market of Pune will remain closes on Friday and Saturday. A press statement issued by the commission agents association said that henceforth the market will remain closed every Wednesday and Friday for cleaning.

Latest coronavirus updates in India Two men wearing masks walk past the Gateway of India monument in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, March 17, 2020. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some it can cause more severe illness. (AP Photo)

Fresh case in Noida, two in Karnataka

A couple from Noida with travel history to Indonesia were tested for coronavirus after showing symptoms. The husband has been tested positive while the final confirmation of the wife’s sample is awaited, Dr Anurag Bharagava CMO, told The Indian Express. With this, the total number of confirmed cases in Noida is four now. Meanwhile, Karnataka health minister has confirmed two more cases in the state, taking the total to 13. Both patients are from Bengaluru.

Suresh Prabhu in self-quarantine after Saudi trip

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP and former civil aviation minister Suresh Prabhu Wednesday isolated himself at his residence for the next 14 days following his return from Saudi Arabia. He was visiting the country to attend the second G20 Sherpas’ meeting on March 11 in Khobar. The BJP MP has taken the precautionary measure though he has been tested negative for the disease.

Latest coronavirus updates in India Outside the Manesar quarantine facility. (Express photo by Gajendra Yadav.)

Bars to remain open in Kerala with precautionary measures

Bars and pubs will remain open in Kerala, albeit with precautionary measures, in the wake of the Covid-19 spread in the state, the cabinet decided Wednesday. The decision will be formally announced later in the day.

The cabinet is learnt to have recommended that management running bars and pubs in the state can continue doing so, although they must take precautions with respect to maintaining sanitation inside. Those entering the bar must sanitise themselves, by washing hands with soap or using a hand-sanitiser which must be kept at the entrance. Also, tables inside must be stacked in such a way that they are not close to each other. The tables and chairs must be constantly sanitised using disinfectants. The waiters at the bars must also ensure personal hygiene. The state’s excise department will be tasked to ensure that each of the bars under its jurisdiction follow the safety measures.

Explained | How the COVID-19 test works? How long does it take?

The Kerala government has maintained that while people must exercise caution and personal hygiene in the wake of the virus outbreak, their social lives must go on too.

Latest coronavirus updates in India Punjab has only one confirmed case of coronavirus yet at GMC hospital. (Representational Image)

Mumbai Police to shut pubs, dance bars till March 31

However, the Maharashtra government has asked the Mumbai Police to shut pubs, dance bars, discotheques and similar establishments in the city till March 31, an official said. The state has reported 40 positive cases so far.

SC issues notice on mid-day meals to children

With schools across several states closed, the Supreme Court Wednesday took suo motu cognisanse of the non-availability of mid-day meals and issued notices to state administrations seeking their replies on how children are being taken care of.

Delhi HC may hear cases through video conference next week

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the Delhi High Court is experimenting with video conferencing facilities to conduct proceedings, reports PTI. This may begin for hearing some cases next week.

In Odisha, over 1,200 people self-report foreign trip on govt portal

The Odisha government has said 1,239 people returning from foreign trips have registered themselves so far on the official platforms provided by the state to track potential coronavirus carriers. The government’s Covid-19 portal asks for details such as name, age, gender, mobile and local contact numbers, address and email. The portal also provides an option to check certain tell-tale symptoms such as fever, cough and respiratory distress-while asking for a comprehensive travel history inclusive of mode of transport and interim halts.

No BJP protest for one month, says chief JP Nadda

The BJP will not hold protest or demonstration for one month due to coronavirus, the party’s chief J P Nadda said. “PM, yesterday in the Parliamentary party meeting, had desired that because of coronavirus we should avoid any type of agitation, dharna, demonstration. Keeping that in view, the BJP has decided that for the next one month the party won’t participate in any agitation, demonstration,” Nadda was quoted as saying by PTI. “All party units have been asked to spread awareness about coronavirus and they must discuss the dos and dont’s in small groups. While on one hand we have to see to its that we keep ourselves clean, we also need to make sure that we do not panic,” he added.

Total cases reported in different Indian states so far

So far, 42 cases have been reported in Maharashtra, 10 in Delhi, 16 in Haryana, 11 in Karnataka, 27 in Kerala, four in Rajasthan, five in Telangana, three in Jammu and Kashimir, eight in Ladakh, 15 Uttar Pradesh, one in Uttarakhand and West Bengal, Odisha, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Goa.

Explained: What is sepsis, a common cause of death from COVID-19?

Health Ministry recommends use of anti-HIV drugs

The Union Health Minister on Tuesday recommended the use of anti-HIV drugs on a “case-to-case basis” for “high-risk patients” aged above 60 years with underlying conditions. The directive comes after two COVID-positive Italian tourists — a 69-year-old man and his 70-year-old wife — who were administered the Lopinavir/Ritonavir combination, usually a second-line HIV medication, recovered in Jaipur.

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