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Coronavirus, April 17 Highlights: PM Modi assures support to Egypt, South Africa

While Maharashtra remains the worst-affected state, Gujarat and Karnataka witnessed a spurt in the number of cases today.

By: Express Web Desk | Bengaluru, Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi | Updated: April 18, 2020 10:19:36 am
People at a temporary quarantine centre in Kolkata on Friday. (Express photo by Partha Paul)

As India entered the 24th day of the lockdown, the death toll due to the virus increased to 452 and the total number of cases neared the 14000 mark. As per the Health Ministry, a total of 1007 cases and 23 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said there has been a 40 per cent decline in the growth of cases in the country and pointed out that the doubling rate of the virus has come down to 6.2 days from 3 after lockdown.

The Reserve Bank of India, meanwhile, announced second COVID-19 relief measures and reduced the reverse repo rate by 25 basis points, from 4 per cent to 3.75 per cent, to encourage banks to invest. The policy rate remains unchanged. This was part of the measures announced by Governor Shaktikanta Das to boost the economy amid the coronavirus outbreak. There are at least 150 officers quarantined at the RBI headquarters, working 24×7 to monitor the situation, he said.

Globally, the number of cases rose to over 2,159,000, while the toll stood at more than 145,500. At least 548,000 people have recovered from the disease. (Click to follow our coverage of Covid-19)

Live Blog

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker India Updates: India cases cross 13,000; RBI cuts reverse repo rate; MHA lists new exemptions from lockdown; export ban on paracetamol products lifted; Maharashtra worst-hit with over 3,000 infections. Read news in Tamil, Bangla, Malayalam

23:55 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Kerala Covid curve getting flatter: Thomas Isaac

"Kerala Covid curve is getting flatter. Of the 395 cases, 255 have recovered. Only 2 deaths," Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said in a tweet on Friday.

23:42 (IST)17 Apr 2020
How RBI is handling ‘The Great Lockdown’

On Friday, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das unveiled the second round of policy announcements to counter the debilitating effects of the spread of Covid-19 on the Indian economy. The RBI has tried to provide more focussed help for NBFCs and micro-finance institutions, which, in turn, should help the people hardest hit by the Covid-19 economic crisis. Read our Explainer here.

(Express Photo by Amit Mehra)



22:55 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Donald Trump says China coronavirus toll 'far higher'

President Donald Trump on Friday said China's real death toll from coronavirus was "far higher," even after the country issued a new count doubling the number of dead in Wuhan. "China has just announced a doubling in the number of their deaths from the Invisible Enemy. It is far higher than that and far higher than the U.S., not even close!" Trump said in a tweet.

22:12 (IST)17 Apr 2020
J&K’s Rajouri is now COVID-19 free, all three cases test negative

The border Rajouri district in Jammu and Kashmir became free from novel coronavirus after three persons who had earlier tested positive for Covid-19 got negative results Friday. The three have been discharged from hospital, tweeted Additional Deputy Commissioner, Rajouri, Sher Singh. Read more

21:26 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Worldwide toll now 1,44, 243

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases worldwide rose to 21,58,250 with as many as 1,44, 243 deaths, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

* United Kingdom recorded 847 deaths in a day, taking the toll close to 15,000

* The United States has the highest death toll (32,917) in the world, followed by Italy with 22,170 dead although its population is just a fifth of that of the US. Spain has recorded 19,130 deaths, followed by France with 17,920.

* In the last 24 hours, Russia recorded a record 4,070 coroanvirus cases totalling down to 32,008 and officials warned that Moscow was two to three weeks away from a peak in infections.

21:06 (IST)17 Apr 2020
India will extend all possible support to Egypt’s efforts: PM Modi

"India will extend all possible support to Egypt’s efforts to control the spread of the virus and its impact," PM Modi assured Egypt President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

21:03 (IST)17 Apr 2020
India assures support to South Africa to maintain medical supplies

India assures support to South Africa to maintain medical supplies. "South Africa is ably coordinating the African Union effort against the pandemic. As a long-standing friend of Africa, India stands ready to support this effort in every way. Had a good discussion with President @CyrilRamaphosa about the COVID-19 challenge, and assured India’s support to South Africa for maintaining essential medical supplies," Prime Minister Narednra Modi said in a tweet.

20:45 (IST)17 Apr 2020
From funerals for bulls to corona feasts, TN residents take a break from lockdown rules

On April 12, a video showing scores of villagers providing a farewell to a Jalikkatu-cum-temple bull went viral across the social media platforms. According to local reports, the bull belonging to a temple in Muduvarpatti village near Alanganallur in Madurai had passed away a few days back. People in the surrounding areas of the town had considered the bull as the pride of their village as it won many awards in Jallikattu events. They had been treating the bull as a diety and been worshipping it. The bull had fallen sick a few weeks back and passed away on Sunday. The mourning villagers subsequently decided to give the bull a farewell.In another incident, a group of youngsters had found themself in a soup after organising a corona feast at Thyagasamudram village in Thanjavur on Wednesday afternoon. 

With the state and the central government deploying various stringent measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, a section of villages in Tamil Nadu were involved in violating the prohibitory orders and breaking the social distancing norms, causing major embarrassment to the law and order in the state. Read more

20:33 (IST)17 Apr 2020
J&K govt asks head of offices to ensure implementation of social distancing, other guidelines

J&K government asked the head of offices to take necessary steps for implementation of instructions with regard to social distancing, face masks and sanitising the work places in their respective offices, as per guidelines. Arrangements for issuance of passes shall be made by the GAD for civil secretariat employees and by the Deputy Commissioners in respect of officers/officials working in their respective jurisdictions, the government order added.

20:31 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Offices to open in J&K from April 20

Jammu and Kashmir Government on Friday ordered reopening of all its offices across the Union Territory with effect from April 20. Pointing out that all educational institutions/training institutes shall remain closed till May 3, an order issued by the General Administration Department read, "all the offices dealing with essential supplies/services shall be fully functional’’. "In other offices, the officers of the level of undersecretary and above shall regularly attend offices with effect from April 20. 33 per cent of non-gazetted staff shall attend office as per roster to be devised by the respective head of offices,’’ it added. About staff/workers of Forest Department operating and maintaining zoo, nurseries, wildlife, fire fighting in forests, watering plantations and patrolling, the order said that they shall work as usual.

20:25 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Rajasthan, first in country to carry out rapid testing for COVID-19

On Friday evening, Rajasthan became the first state in the country to carry out rapid testing for COVID-19. At 5 pm today, 52 persons were tested at an urban PHC in Jaipur. All of them tested negative.

20:20 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Jharkhand Police arrests 89 people for rumour mongering over COVID-19

Jharkhand Police have arrested 89 people, booked 157 in 103 cases for rumour mongering over COVID-19.

20:13 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Opposition to Meghalaya’s Covid-19 victim’s funeral blot on society’s consciousness: Venkaiah Naidu

A day after Meghalaya reported its first death due to coronavirus, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu Friday expressed his “deep concern and agony” over the Meghalaya incident in which a 69-year-old doctor, who had tested positive for Covid-19, subsequently died and was denied last rites by the local community.

In a Facebook post, the Vice President wrote, “Deeply disturbed by a news item in today’s “The Indian Express” over a 36-hour delay to find a resting place to the dead body of a 69-year-old popular Meghalaya doctor following strong resistance from the local people. It was reported that the physician’s body lay for several hours in the hospital he had founded after attempts to bury or/cremate him were unsuccessful due to local resistance. This unfortunate behavioural from the locals forced the Chief Minister to finally intervene in the mater and help resolve the matter.” Read more

20:04 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Explained: Who was June Almeida, the virologist who first saw the coronavirus?

Coronavirus (COVID-19): The scientist who visualised the first human coronavirus was virologist June Almeida. She pioneered the technique of electron microscopy, used for viral diagnosis, and became the first individual to see the human coronavirus. Almeida grew up in an apartment in Glasgow. While she had academic potential, she was forced to drop out of school at the age of 16 after failing to receive funding to study further, her daughter Joyce later revealed in an article in The British Medical Journal. Read our explainer here

20:00 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Govt takes steps to ease lockdown for Scheduled Tribes, other forest dwellers

The government Friday provided exemptions to a few more areas from the purview of the ongoing lockdown which includes collection, harvesting and processing of minor forest produce, among many other things, to ensure sustenance of forest-dwelling tribal population. In a communication to all States and Union Territories, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that “collection, harvesting and processing of minor forest produce (MFP), non-timber forest produce (NTFP) by Scheduled Tribes and other forest dwellers in forest areas” were also allowed.

18:53 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Man from Pune who slipped in despite check-posts is first Covid-19 patient in ‘Green Zone’ Parbhani

A 21-year-old man from Pune, who surreptitiously travelled 370 km on his two-wheeler, sneaking in through three ‘sealed’ district borders to reach Parbhani earlier this week, became the first Covid-19 positive patient in the district which so far had managed to remain in ‘Green Zone’ with no reported case so far.

The man, who hails from Jawala Bazaar in Hingoli District and works at a furniture store in Bhosari near Pune, left his residence in Bhosari on April 12 night and reached his brother-in-law’s home in Parbhani next morning. As he was complaining of throat irritation, he was taken to a public health centre by the relative where a throat swab was taken and sent to a lab. The result came positive on Thursday. Read more

18:48 (IST)17 Apr 2020
One new case, 10 recoveries in Kerala today

Only one case have been reported in Kerala on Friday whereas 10 patients have recovered taking the total number of recoveries so far to 255. Here are some numbers as on Friday shared by Kerala Chief Minister's Office.

18:24 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Gujarat declares curfew in one locality of Rajkot

With number of persons infected by COVID-19 crossing the 1,000 mark in Gujarat on Friday, the state government declared curfew in Jungleshwar area of Rajkot. This is the third district in Gujarat, after Ahmedabad and Surat where certain localities have been put under curfew even as police officers said that the the clamp down in Rajkot will be for an indefinite period and without any relaxation.

"Today afternoon, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani held a video conference with Rajkot's police commissioner, municipal commissioner and district collector and discussed the situation related to Covid infections. It has been decided that from Friday midnight, curfew will be imposed in Rajkot's Jungleshwar locality," said Ashwini Kumar, secretary to chief minister while addressing media persons in Gandhinagar.

18:01 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Delhi Police organises magic show for migrant labourers

Magician Raj Kumar performed tricks for migrant labourers at a government shelter home in Delhi amid lockdown. The magic show was organised by the Delhi Police.

17:57 (IST)17 Apr 2020
Gujarat: Third COVID-19 death in Bhavnagar

A 60-year-old woman died hours after being hospitalised with COVID-19 symptoms in Gujarat's Bhavnagar. Later on, her samples returned positive for the disease. This is third death in Bhavanagar, confirmed district development officer.

RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das, RBI, RBI reverse repo rate, coronavirus, coronavirus news, coronavirus latest news, coronavirus news today, covid 19 india, coronavirus latest news, coronavirus live news, coronavirus india, coronavirus india news, coronavirus india live news The tests are only for surveillance and should not be used for diagnosis. (File/Express Photo by Prashant Nadkar)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker India Live News Updates:

In other news, the government released a list of additional services exempted from the lockdown, including agricultural and financial services, and construction activities in rural areas. The government has also removed curbs on exports of formulations made from paracetamol. Maharashtra remains the worst affected state, with a total of 3,205 cases and 194 deaths, followed by New Delhi with 1,640 infections and 38 fatalities.

With four days to go for conditional easing of restrictions in specific areas, as India ramps up testing - the number of samples tested in the last 24 hours crossed 30,000 for the first time on Thursday - the first consignment of 5 lakh rapid COVID-19 testing kits has arrived from China.

Indicating that more testing kits are on their way, Vikram Misri, Indian Ambassador to China tweeted: “A total of 650,000 kits, including Rapid Antibody Tests and RNA Extraction Kits have been despatched early today from Guangzhou Airport to India.”

This means that rapid tests, where the results take take less than 30 minutes, can be used in the 170 hotspots across the country, as per the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

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However, as the ICMR reiterated on Thursday, the tests are only for surveillance and should not be used for diagnosis.

“We have received 5 lakh kits (from China): 2 lakh from a company called Nuzon and 3 lakh from another called Wantro. They have a sensitivity of over 80%. One needs to understand that these are serological tests. This is not for early diagnosis because it takes time for antibodies to develop. This is for surveillance in hotspots, to periodically check the spread of the disease,” said Dr R R Gangakhedkar, head of epidemiology and infectious diseases, ICMR.

Meanwhile, in a significant development for COVID-19 diagnosis and testing in India, a reputable medical institute in Kerala has been successful in developing a low-cost diagnostic testing kit that can give results of the viral infection in two hours. A release from the Union Ministry of Science and Technology said Thursday that a team of clinicians and scientists at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) in Thiruvananthapuram has been able to come up with a test kit which is deemed highly specific for SARS-CoV-2 N-gene and can detect two regions of the gene, which will ensure that the test does not fail even if one region of the viral gene undergoes mutation during its current spread.

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In another news, the IPL Governing Council of the BCCI has decided to suspend the tournament till further notice. The cricket body released a statement in this regard that stated that keeping the health and safety of the cricketers in mind, BCCI along with all the associates involved with IPL have decided to commence the tournament only when it feels safe to conduct.

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On the international front, the UK government is preparing to formally extend the initial three-week strict social distancing measures imposed last month to try and curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic as the country’s death toll from COVID-19 crosses 12,868. Europe was still in the "eye of the storm" of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization warned Thursday, as parts of the continent moved to ease restrictions but others extended lockdowns and postponed major events.

Read more news on coronavirus (COVID-19) in India, the world:

Explained: Guidelines for non-immigrant visa holders in the US amid COVID-19

Government offices to reopen with senior staff from April 20

In Mumbai, migrants lose hope, money: For how long, they ask

Govt wants to use PMJAY for free coronavirus testing in private labs, but 2 cr families missing from database

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