Coronavirus India update: The death toll due to the coronavirus pandemic rose to 17 on Friday morning, even as the country continued to be under a lockdown for the third day in an attempt to contain the infection. The total number of cases soared to 724 with 66 of the patients being discharged so far, the Ministry of Health announced. The evening update from the ministry is awaited.
39 fresh COVID-19 cases in Kerala: CM Pinarayi Vijayan
On Friday, Kerala reported 39 fresh cases of the novel coronavirus, said Kerala CM Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in a press briefing. The Ministry of Health is yet to confirm this development. This takes the total number of people under treatment to 164, the CM said. Of the 39 cases, 34 are from the worst affected northernmost district of Kasaragod. A total of 1,10,299 people are under surveillence and 616 are in isolation wards of various hospitals.
In order to arrest the exodus of migrant workers from urban centres, Gujarat government on Friday decided to disallow migrant workers from walking back to their native villages or towns.
“From now on, the state government will not allow any labourer or worker to walk on the roads during lockdown,” said Ashwini Kumar, secretary to the chief minister, asking the remaining migrant workforce to stay put in their respective towns and cities. He said, on Thursday, the chief minister has already issued orders to industrial units and factories to not force any of their workers to leave town. Kumar added that the state government will be making arrangements for their stay and food.
MHA: Make adequate arrangements for migrant workers
Amid migrant labourers journeying to their hometowns across India, the Centre has directed the states and UTs to look after migrant workers. Joint Secretary of the Health Ministry, Punya Salila Srivastava said state governments have been asked pay attention to the movement of migrant workers and to ensure food and shelter for the unorganised sector, especially the daily wage workers.
On Friday, MHA issued an advisory to all states and UTs to take “immediate steps to provide adequate support including food and shelter” to migrant labourers, industrial workers and other unorganised sector workers. The advisory suggested that various agencies including NGOs could be involved, and that vulnerable groups should be made aware of the measures taken by the government including provisions of free food grains etc, to prevent such avoidable movements.
States have also been asked to ensure that hotels and rented accommodations are kept functional. “Essential goods and services are arranged. Via a video conference, the Home Minister asked them to take care of womens’ hostels and students too,” said Srivastava.
Health Ministry: 40,000 ventilators to be manufactured
The Health Ministry is roping in Public Service Undertakings (PSU) to mass manufacture ventilators, amid shortage in wake of the outbreak. One PSU has been asked to make 10,000 ventilators, while another set of 30,000 will be made available by Bharat Electricals, a PSU under defence ministry. The ministry also said that cloth for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) will now be sourced from indigenous manufacturers.
ICMR: India to participate in WHO SOLIDARITY drug trial soon
“India will soon start participation in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) SOLIDARITY trial, now that our numbers have increased,” said Dr RR Gangakhedar, Head of Department, Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases, at ICMR. The WHO had earlier announced SOLIDARITY, a multi-arm, multi-country clinical trial to look for the best treatment against COVID-19.
Mumbai’s doctor dies of Covid-19, family of six test positive
A doctor in Mumbai, who tested positive for COVID-19, died last night at city’s Hinduja Hospital. His grandson had returned from the United Kingdom on March 12 and was under self-quarantine, the family told civic officials.
The 82-year-old doctor, however, developed cough four days ago. Upon testing, the result came positive and the doctor was admitted to Hinduja. The family of six has been tested positive for the virus.
Second Covid-19 death in Rajasthan
The state reported its second death on Friday morning after a 60-year-old who suffered from high blood pressure and kidney problems, died due to the virus.
A 73-year-old man in Bhilwara district, who had tested positive for coronavirus and was in a coma due to kidney failure, died on Thursday, Health Department officials said. However, the officials declined to attribute his death to the infection.
Five fresh coronavirus cases in Vidarbha
Five persons tested positive for the virus in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha today. Speaking to The Indian Express, Civil Surgeon D V Paturkar said, “Three of them are family members of the Nagpur man who had tested positive on Thursday. Another one is his close contact while the fifth is a resident of Gondia.”
The first man to test positive was discharged on Thursday while three of his acquaintances, including his wife, are likely to be discharged on Saturday after requisite checks.
In a bid to tackle the impact of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) disease on the Indian economy, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cut its repo rate by 75 basis points (bps) to 4.4 per cent on Friday.
The central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee which met on March 24, 26 and 27 had a majority of 4-2 towards the favour of a 75 bps repo rate cut. This apart, the reverse repo rate stands reduced by 90 bps to 4 per cent.
Speaking to the media, RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said that the rate cut was warranted due to the severe impact of coronavirus on the Indian economy.
Moody’s slashes India GDP growth in 2020 to 2.5 pc
Moody’s Investors Service on Friday slashed its estimate of India’s GDP growth during 2020 calendar year to 2.5 per cent from an earlier estimate of 5.3 per cent, on account of the rising economic cost of the coronavirus pandemic.
This compares to 5 per cent growth in 2019. Moody’s said, at the 2020 estimated growth rate, a sharp fall in incomes in India is likely, further weighing on domestic demand and the pace of recovery in 2021.
“In India, credit flow to the economy already remains severely hampered because of severe liquidity constraints in the bank and non-bank financial sectors,” it said.
Three persons, who had tested positive for coronavirus in Pimpri-Chinchwad 15 days ago, have now tested negative. Both their reports in the last two days have come negative for the infection.
Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar said the three patients will be discharged today.
“Their two reports have come negative. They will be discharged today,” he said on Friday.
On Thursday, Health Ministry officials said that “one or two anecdotal cases”, where the source of the infection has not been traced, does not mean community transmission has started occurring in the country.
“You have to understand that when contact-tracing is done, travel history is taken into account, (as) also the contact history. Every person will have to reply to everything; you cannot always believe everything they say. One or two anecdotal cases do not make community transmission — we do not have evidence (of community transmission) till now. If it was there, why wouldn’t we tell you?” Dr R R Gangakhedkar, Head of Department, Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases, at ICMR said.
As part of efforts to step up testing for coronavirus, the Indian Council of Medical Research has invited manufacturers to supply 5 lakh antibody kits for diagnosis of infection. Experts in the government point out that the serological test will act as a screening process, as was done in South Korea, one of the few countries which has been able to flatten the pandemic curve.
Dr V Ravi, Head and Senior Professor, Department of Neurovirology, NIMHANS, who specialises in public health virology and development of indigenous kits, told The Indian Express that considering the large number of suspected patients being quarantined in the country through contact tracing of just a single patient, the antibody testing for COVID-19 will act as a “screening test” that will give quick results in a few hours.
The Indian Council for Medical Research and other stakeholders have called for each tertiary government hospital in the country to have one critical care unit for coronavirus, and training of health professionals to handle the spread of COVID-19.
The challenge of countering the spread of COVID-19 virus has brought in all branches of the government, including the armed forces, at the forefront of this fight. As the biggest service among the armed forces, the Army, led by the Army Chief General MM Naravane, will have a leading role to play in this fight.
“The Indian Army has certain inherent capability to rise up to various emergency situations by virtue of organisational structure and training. And in keeping with that, the Indian Army is planning and preparing to fight COVID-19,” Naravane told The Indian Express.
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