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India lockdown diary, Day 13: Villagers take out ‘havan yatra’ on tractor-trolley; banker’s ‘creative’ method to disinfect cheque and more

A curated list of striking stories that happened across the country on Day 13 of the nationwide lockdown enforced to contain the transmission of the novel coronavirus.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: April 6, 2020 10:09:39 pm
Health workers spray disinfects as a precaution against COVID-19 in Jammu. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

With the country entering Day 13 of the three-week lockdown, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India climbed to 4,067 Monday. A total 109 people have so far died of COVID-19 infection, according to Union Health Ministry data, giving the disease a fatality rate of about 2.7. The largest number of cases was in Maharashtra (690), followed by Tamil Nadu (571) and Delhi (503). Over 80 per cent of these cases have been reported from 62 districts across India. Top government sources said restrictions are likely to continue in these districts even after the nationwide 21-day lockdown ends on April 14. Follow LIVE Updates

About 63 per cent of those who died of COVID-19 were of 60 years of age or above, said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, on Monday. Briefing the press, he also said that among the deaths recorded 86% were of people with co-morbidities. More than 25,500 Tablighi Jamaat members and their contacts have been quarantined in the country till now, a Home Ministry official said.

Here is a curated list of some striking stories from across the country on Day 13

*Coronavirus patients will be booked for attempt to murder if they spit on others: Himachal DGP

Himachal Pradesh DGP Sita Ram Mardi on Monday said that any coronavirus patient who spits on another person will be booked for attempt to murder, in an apparent reaction to an incident in Kangra’s Dobha village, where a 63-year-old woman — the first person reported to have the virus in Himachal Pradesh — had spat on health workers while they were taking her to hospital.

*Life inside a containment zone in Guwahati

For two days now, complains the 51-year-old businessman, a group of television reporters, cameras in tow, have been stationed outside their apartment complex. “I understand they need to be here, but can’t they take one shot and leave?” he asks, “Or are they expecting bullets to fly out of here? Or maybe they think zombies will walk out?”

The man is a resident of an upmarket apartment complex in the heart of Guwahati, Assam. On Friday night, before the Health Ministry officially confirmed the news, pictures of the building emerged on social media and local news channels: a resident from among its plush flats had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It was the first case reported from Assam’s capital city, and also the first to have no connection to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin Markaz — to which 25 out of 26 cases of the state have been traced so far.

*New Delhi: Milkman arrested carrying liquor bottles in milk cans

A milkman was arrested by the Delhi Police Monday for allegedly carrying liquor in steel milk containers. The accused was identified as Bobby Chaudhary, a resident of Bulandshahar. According to the police, he bought the liquor for his cousin’s birthday party. While the city is under lockdown, and non-essential services like liquor stores are shut, the man was found with seven liquor bottles.

A team of South Avenue police station caught him around 12:30 am on Monday. A senior police officer said, “The morning patrolling team was on duty when they found a milkman roaming near south Avenue picket. It was an odd hour for a milkman to be out, and hence the police personnel tried to stop hi. But the man sped away on his bike.”

*Survey shows 42% have no ration left for the day, let alone duration of lockdown

A survey of 3,196 migrant construction workers whose livelihood has been disrupted after the announcement of the 21-day lockdown over COVID-19 paints a dismal picture of migrant lives, especially seasonal migrants, now caught unawares as the Indian economy virtually shut down. The survey confirms the effect of the lockdown wherein 92.5 per cent of labourers have already lost work ranging from one week to three weeks.

The non-governmental organisation Jan Sahas has some important conclusions from its telephonic survey of workers from North and Central India: first, that “42 per cent of the workers mentioned that they had no ration left even for the day, let alone for the duration of the lockdown”.

*Gambhir offers funds to buy PPEs, Kejriwal says ‘money not a problem

As over 23 healthcare workers test positive for COVID-19 in Delhi, the shortage of PPE kits remains a worry for the state government. There was also a Twitter exchange between Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and BJP MP Gautam Gambhir Monday in this regard.

Responding to Gambhir’s offer to the Delhi government to make use of Rs 1 crore from his MPLAD funds to buy PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment), Kejriwal said the lack of availability of the kits, not money, was hindering the procurement process.

“Gautam ji, thank u for ur offer. The problem is not of money but the availability of PPE kits. We wud be grateful if u cud help us get them from somewhere immediately, Del govt will buy them. Thank u,” Kejriwal tweeted.

*As classes move online, IITs find 10% students can’t access lessons from home

As the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) gradually migrate classes online, many institutes have discovered that about 10 per cent of their students are not equipped to access such instruction from home. All schools and higher education institutions are closed in the country in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Except IIT-Kharagpur, all older IITs have sent students home.

IITs in Kanpur, Guwahati, Delhi and Mumbai had recently sought feedback from students on the quality of internet access available with them to ascertain whether everyone will be able to participate in the online learning exercise. Officials of the above institutes told The Indian Express that about 10 per cent to 15 per cent had reported issues ranging from poor connectivity to insufficient data plan for downloading video lectures.

The idea of a walk-in sample kiosk was converted into a realistic and practical model by a team of doctors and officials at the Kalamassery Medical College.

*Inspired by South Korea, Kerala launches walk-in Covid-19 sample collection kiosk

Drawing inspiration from South Korea’s highly praised drive-through testing centres for Covid-19 that helped the country flatten the curve and reduce the rate of community spread, a district administration in Kerala has devised an innovative model that can make swab sample collection a faster and safe process.

The Ernakulam district authorities, in conjunction with the state health department, Monday unveiled a ‘walk-in sample kiosk’ (WISK) model through which health workers can take swab or blood samples from a potentially-positive person within two minutes. This is the first time such a model is being implemented in the country.

Banker’s ‘creative’ method to disinfect cheque leaves netizens impressed

* Man posts ‘no ventilators in Ludhiana’ on Facebook, booked for sedition

The Ludhiana police booked a man on the charges of sedition after he allegedly posted on social media that there were ‘no ventilators in Ludhiana district to treat patients’ amid the coronavirus outbreak. An FIR was registered against Simranjit Singh of Dharampura area.

Investigating officer in the case, ASI Surjit Singh, said the man had posted on Facebook that ‘there is not even a single ventilator in Ludhiana district to treat coronavirus patients’.

Indian Railways, Train coach isolation ward, Coronavirus patients, Railways converts train coaches in to isolation ward, Covid-19 patients, Coronavirus India, Indian express A view of the isolation coach readied by Indian Railways. (Source: Indian Railways)

* Railways coaches can now house 40,000 Covid-19 patients

The Indian Railways has converted as many as 2,500 coaches into isolation wards for Covid-19 patients, the ministry announced on Monday. The coaches have a combined capacity of at least 40,000 beds, it added.

“In times of lockdown, when manpower resources are limited and have to be rationalised and rotated, different zones of Railways have almost done an impossible task of so many conversions in such a small span of time,” a statement by the ministry said.

The ministry said that an average of 375 coaches are being converted into isolation wards in a day.  “The work is being carried out at 133 locations in the country,” it added.

* Banker’s ‘creative’ method to disinfect cheque leaves netizens impressed

While people have been forced to stay indoors due to the 21-day lockdown to combat the spread of COVID-19, there are several essential services, including banks, that remain operational.

And as social distancing is the buzzword to avoid the spread of the virus, an employee of Bank of Baroda has come up with an innovative idea as a precautionary measure to not contract the virus. Though it isn’t clear whether or not his method is effective, it has clearly impressed many, including business tycoon Anand Mahindra.

The clip shows the cashier taking a cheque through a window using a tong and then he uses a steam iron to disinfect the cheque. Sharing the video, Mahindra tweeted, “I have no idea if the cashier’s technique is effective but you have to give him credit for his creativity!”

* Haryana: Villagers take out ‘havan yatra’ on tractor-trolley

“The havan will purify the air which will help in keeping the coronavirus away from the village,” said former village sarpanch of Gorakhpur village, Jagga Jaildar. On Sunday, residents of the village took out a ‘havan yatra’ — havan with chanting of mantras in a tractor-trolley as it went around each street of the village, aiming to purify the air.

In battle against the coronavirus, villagers said, the havan would create a “medicinal atmosphere and reduce the bacterial count”. They also believe the smoke from the havan-kund acts as “pesticide” for the surrounding area. Most importantly, the former sarpanch pointed out that norms of social distancing were adhered to during the havan exercise.

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