Coronavirus India updates: The government Tuesday announced its ‘Vande Bharat Mission‘ to evacuate thousands of Indians stranded abroad amid the Covid-19 pandemic. It said it would send 64 flights between May 7 and 13 to bring home “compelling cases in distress”, including migrant workers/labourers who have been laid off, short term visa holders faced with expiry of visas, persons with medical emergencies, pregnant women, the elderly, those who are required to return due to death of a family member, and students.
Under the repatriation plan, India will operate 10 flights to the UAE, seven flights each to the US and the UK, five flights to Saudi Arabia, five flights to Singapore and two flights to Qatar. It will also send seven flights each to Malaysia and Bangladesh, five flights each to Kuwait and Philippines, two flights each to Oman and Bahrain.
Approximately, 2,000 people will fly back to India daily.
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy also launched ‘Operation Samudra Setu’ (Sea Bridge) as a part of efforts to bring back Indians from overseas. “Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa and Magar are presently enroute to the port of Malè, Republic of Maldives to commence evacuation operations from 08 May 2020 as part of Phase-1,” the Navy statement said.
India’s Covid-19 toll crosses 1,500-mark
Addressing the daily briefing on the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, Joint Secretary at the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal Tuesday said the total number of cases stood at 46,433 and the death toll at 1,568.
The second day of the third phase of lockdown witnessed crowds defying social distancing norms at many places including liquor shops.
The government Tuesday suspended all visas granted to foreign nationals, barring a few categories, till flight operations resumed in the country. With the lockdown set to end on May 17, flights are likely to resume operations on May 18.
All existing visas granted to foreigners — except those belonging to diplomatic, official, UN international organisations, employment and project categories — shall remain suspended till prohibition on international air travel of passengers from and to India is lifted by the government, an order by the Ministry of Home Affairs read.
The ministry also said it has kept in abeyance multiple-entry life-long visas given to Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders till international travel remains suspended. However, the OCI card holders who are already in India can stay in the country for “any length of time”, it said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of a task force on the coronavirus vaccine development, during which he took note of how people from the academia, industry and government had come together to find a solution to Covid-19.
“He emphasised that what is possible in a crisis should be a part of our routine way of scientific functioning,” a statement issued said.
The Telangana government Tuesday extended the lockdown across the state till May 29. Addressing the press, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said movement of people would be suspended between 7 pm and 6 am across the state’s 33 districts. All shops in rural areas would remain open, and 50 per cent shops in towns (on a lottery basis) would function. The CM said private and public officers could remain open at one-third their capacities. The government would also set up facilities for land registrations and vehicle e-passes during the period.
Further, the government said wine would be allowed to stay open between 10 am and 7 pm from Wednesday.
In other news, the Telengana government said 40 special trains would be deployed everyday for a week to ferry stranded migrants in different parts of the state.
A statement release from the Chief Minister’s office said that the trains would start from various stations in the city including Warangal, Khammam and Ramagundam among other places. The destinations of these trains will be various places in Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, it said, three days after the first such special train carrying 1,200 workers was operated from Telangana to Hatia in Jharkhand after the Railways acceded to the request of the state government.
The Greater Mumbai Corporation said only essential shops and pharmacies would be allowed to remain open across the state from Wednesday. This means, non-essential stores, including liquor stores, would remain closed.
“… It has been observed that the number of positive cases in the city of Mumbai have been rising and the downward trend is yet to set in and gathering of crowds in large numbers without following social distancing will be detrimental to the control of spread of virus and the advantage of the lockdown will be lost due to gathering of people in large numbers,” the order stated.
Maharashtra reported sale of at least 5 lakh litres of liquor after the government allowed the functioning of standalone retail liquor shops on day 1 of lockdown 3.0. There were long queues outside these shops in various parts of the state. An exact sales figure was not immediately available.
India should take cue from the US and pump more money into the hands of people to revive demand, Nobel laureate Dr Abhijit Banerjee said Tuesday.“We really haven’t decided on a large enough stimulus package. We are still talking about 1% of GDP. The United States has gone for 10% of GDP,” the noted economist said.
The Nobel laureate made the remarks while speaking to Congress MP Rahul Gandhi as part of a series of video conversations with experts on economy and health.
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