With as many as 909 positive cases and 34 deaths reported in India in the last 24 hours, the total number of coronavirus cases on Sunday touched 8,447, as the country neared the end of the 21-day lockdown period which began on March 24.
However, the Centre is considering the request of most states to extend the lockdown for another two weeks. West Bengal, Odisha, Punjab, Maharashtra, Telangana and Karnataka have already announced extension till April 30 in a bid to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Addressing a press briefing Sunday, Health Ministry’s Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said the government is expanding the COVID-19 testing capacity in state-run as well as private medical colleges. Responding to a question about the development of vaccines, an ICMR official said, “There are 40 plus candidate vaccines that are under development but none of them has reached the next stage.”
The Health Ministry also said that 20,000 train coaches will be converted into isolation wards.
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Here is a curated list of some striking stories from across the country on Day 19
The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown imposed across the nation has sabotaged many wedding plans and businesses are also facing the brunt of the uncertainty. Among those who had to postpone their wedding was Delhi-based Gazal Bawa and Hemant Virmani. The duo were supposed to get married in Bhimtal on April 10.
“The wedding was scheduled for April 10 in Bhimtal and then we decided to cancel it on March 19 seeing the COVID-19 situation,” Bawa told the indianexpress.com
While the couple was disheartened by the unexpected change of plans, their friends came up with a creative way to cheer them up.
A 25-year-old man, who in a TikTok video ridiculed the use of masks for protection against COVID-19, has tested positive for the disease in Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar district, an official said on Sunday. Authorities at the hospital where he is admitted had to seize his mobile phone as he kept posting more videos from the isolation facility even after testing positive.
His condition is stable, Sagar’s Government Bundelkhand Medical College Dean Dr G S Patel told PTI. In one of the videos, apparently shot after the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, the man was purportedly seen sitting on a bike and when someone asked him to wear a mask, he dismissed it saying, Is kapde ke tukde par kya bharosa rakhna, rakhna hai to us upar wale par rakho (why trust a piece of cloth, keep faith in God).
Keeping up with its sarcastic and witty tweets, Mumbai Police has come up with yet another quirky post encouraging people to put on face masks amid the coronavirus crisis. Using a clip from Shah Rukh Khan’s popular film ‘Main Hoon Na’, the tweet aims to show how people can avoid contracting the virus without attempting stunts like the actor.
“@iamsrk wouldn’t need to do such stunts any longer — Mask Hai Na!” read the caption of the post shared by the official Mumbai Police’s Twitter handle while tagging the video. In the 13-second clip, the actor can be seen doing a Matrix-inspired stunt, where he arches back to avoid being spat on by Satish Shah.
Cop hitchhikes 1,100 km to reach village after mother’s death
For Santosh Yadav, overcoming the hardships caused due to the coronavirus outbreak was no less daunting than battling Maoists in the jungles of Chhattisgarh. Amid the nationwide lockdown, the 30-year-old Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) jawan, posted in the Naxal-hit Bijapur district, travelled over 1,100 km in three days using goods trains, trucks and boats, to reach his village in Uttar Pradesh after his mother’s death. “I just wanted to reach my village, Sikhar, after I learnt of her death. Both my younger brother and a married sister live in Mumbai and it was not possible for them to reach the village due to the lockdown,” Yadav told PTI.
“I could not leave my father alone in such a situation,” he said. Yadav’s wife and two kids also live in the Mirzapur village in Uttar Pradesh, where he reached after his mother’s death. Yadav, who joined the CAF in 2009 and is deployed in its 15th battalion, was busy with his routine schedule at his camp in the outskirts of Bijapur on April 4 when he got a call from his father that his mother’s condition had deteriorated. He suggested his father shift her to a hospital in Varanasi.
She was admitted to a hospital in Varanasi the next day but the same evening, Yadav’s father called to inform him that
she was dead. Unavailability of transport facilities due to the lockdown did not deter an inconsolable Yadav, who embarked on the long journey home on April 7 morning after receiving the relieving letter from the commandant.
“I just wanted to make it to the state capital Raipur, from where I was confident of arranging something for the rest of the journey,” he said. Yadav took a lift on a paddy-laden truck from Bijapur to reach Jagdalpur. He waited there for around two hours before spotting a mini truck that dropped him in Kondagaon, around 200 km from Raipur.
“In Kondagaon, I was stopped by police personnel but I explained my situation to them. Luckily an official deployed
there was familiar to me and helped me in my travel up to Raipur in a vehicle carrying medicines,” he said.
“From Raipur, I boarded a goods train with the help of a friend posted in the Railway Protection Force (RPF). Then, I changed at least eight goods trains to reach Chunar, the nearest railway station to my village, on April 10 morning, thanks to all station masters and my friends working in Railways,” he said.
Yadav said he then walked for 5 km to reach the Ganga river and took a boat ride across to reach his village. He said he was stopped at several places by police and railway personnel due to the lockdown, but was allowed to proceed on humanitarian grounds. “As many as 78 men from my village are working in Railways and I was aware that they could be of great help to me during the journey,” he said.
Despite his not-so-smooth journey, Yadav says he supports the lockdown as it has been imposed for the safety of people. (PTI)
Quarantine wards set up at Corbett to save wildlife from coronavirus
Transmission of the novel coronavirus to a tiger at a zoo in the US has led authorities at the Corbett Tiger Reserve in Uttarakhand to set up quarantine wards in its ranges for tigers, elephants and sniffer dog squads to protect them from the virus. Quarantine wards have been set up at Kalagarh and Bijrani ranges of the reserve in compliance with the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority, CTR Director Rahul told PTI.
Apart from that, 40 video mode cameras and 450 still mode cameras have been installed at the peripheries of the reserve to keep a tab on any abnormal behaviour by animals, which might suggest they have contracted the COVID-19, he said. The reserve staff have been asked to stay put at the posts and they are being supplied with essentials to prevent the possibility of their getting infected with COVID-19 and then passing it on to the animals they have to handle, the official said.
Patrolling staff have been asked to keep an eye on any abnormal behaviour by the wildlife at the reserve, he said.
Elaborate arrangements have been made at the Rajaji Tiger Reserve to save tigers and other animals at the facility from the novel coronavirus infection, its Director PK Patro said.
“The reserve is under complete lockdown. The food for captive animals is sanitised at the gates before being brought in to be served to them. Zookeepers who handle them are also being subjected to regular thermal screening to check if they have any symptoms of coronavirus,” Patro said. He said if the need to quarantine animals arises, the rescue centres can be used for the purpose.
Strict guidelines have been issued to the staff to inform the authorities if they spot the carcass of an animal within the reserve or at its peripheries. They have been asked to inform the Director if they see signs of illness in an animal, he said.
According to an official estimate, there are around 250 tigers and 1,100 elephants in Corbett Tiger Reserve while there are 38 tigers and 450 elephants in Rajaji. The Uttarakhand forest department has 22 captive elephants and two sniffer dog squads.
There are two tiger reserves, six national parks, seven sanctuaries, four conservation reserves, two big zoos and one small zoo besides two animal rescue centres in Uttarakhand. “The wildlife wing of Uttarakhand forest department is taking all preventive measures to protect the animal world from the deadly virus by keeping a close watch on them. All arrangements have been made as per NTCA guidelines,” Chief Wildlife Warden Rajiv Bharatari said. (PTI)
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