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Coronavirus India Updates, 16 May: Centre, opposition states spar over migrant trains; MP govt declares 9 districts COVID-19 free

The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 2,752 Saturday with the number of infections rising to 85,940 recording an increase of 103 deaths and 3,970 cases in the last 24 hours. Maharashtra continues to top the tally with 1,068 deaths.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: May 16, 2020 10:31:45 pm
As India surpassed China in terms of the total infections, several states seem to be experiencing a second wave of infections, although still in its early stages.(Express Photo by Nirmal Harindran)

As the third phase of lockdown is nearing its end, the death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 2,752 Saturday with the number of infections rising to 85,940, recording an increase of 103 deaths and 3,970 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry. Over 30,100 people or around 35.08% of patients have recovered so far. Maharashtra continues to top the tally with 1,068 deaths.

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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Friday unveiled the third installment of measures to cushion the impact of Covid-19 and the lockdown on the economy.  She announced 11 measures for the agriculture sector as part of the third trench of the government’s Rs 20 lakh crore Covid-19 relief package.

As India surpassed China in terms of the total infections, several states seem to be experiencing a second wave of infections, although still in its early stages. In the last few days there has been a noticeable rise in the number of infections in states like Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Goa that had stopped reporting new cases.

Read| Freeing up the farmer: Govt to ease curbs on trade, open up markets

Madhya Pradesh govt declares 9 districts COVID-19 free

The Madhya Pradesh government declared that nine districts in the state, which had earlier reported COVID-19 cases, were now coronavirus-free. Additional chief secretary (Health) Mohammed Suleman said that the nine districts- Barwani, Agar-Malwa, Shajapur, Sheopur, Alirajpur, Harda, Shahdol, Tikamgarh, and Betul- were now free from the infection. It was declared during a review meeting held on Friday.

Apart from this, no COVID-19 case has been detected in eight districts of the state so far, Suleman said. Testing has been increased in the state, he said, adding that at least 5,822 swab samples were collected on Friday alone, while 93,849 samples have been tested so far. Of the 4,595 coronavirus positive cases reported in the state till Friday, 45 per cent were active ones, he added.

Read| Karnataka: Returning migrants push up case count

Rajasthan CM unveils measures to provide relief to farmers

The Rajasthan government Friday took several important decisions to provide relief to farmers, including providing a fair price for their crops, facilitating and decentralising procurement and granting loans at a lower interest rate.

The chief minister has decided to give a grant of Rs 50 crore per year from the Farmers Welfare Fund to the “Sahakar Kisan Kalyan Yojana”. (Express Photo by Shashi Ghosh)

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot approved these proposals to provide relief to farmers amid the crisis arising due to the coronavirus outbreak, an official statement said here.

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The chief minister has decided to give a grant of Rs 50 crore per year from the Farmers Welfare Fund to the “Sahakar Kisan Kalyan Yojana”. Loans of Rs 1.5 lakh for small and marginal farmers and up to Rs 3 lakhs for big farmers will be made available at an interest rate of only three per cent.

All migrants walking through Odisha will be provided transport: DGP

The Odisha government Friday said no migrant workers travelling through the state will have to walk as it has arranged transport for them.

The state government has made arrangements for transportation of migrant workers from Odisha border checkpoints to other border points nearest to the native states of the migrants.(Express Photo by Nirmal Harindran)

Director General of Police Abhay said Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has directed the police that no migrant should take the pain of walking on foot to reach his or her destination.

The state government has made arrangements for transportation of migrant workers from Odisha border checkpoints to other border points nearest to the native states of the migrants. Expenditure incurred on transportation and food for the migrant workers will be borne by the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, he said.

Read| UP: 24 migrants killed, many injured in truck accident in Auraiya; PM Modi condoles death

Over thousand migrants wait for bus rides at the Maha-MP border

Across two days last week, around 13,000 migrants from Maharashtra had reached the ghat in Barwani district, seeking the comfort of home and family in UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal in the middle of the Covid pandemic. At the border, separate pick-up and drop-off points have been set up — and large tents earmarked for different states. The buses from Maharashtra halt about 300m inside MP near the Mata Mandir at the ghat. The pick-up point from where the migrants will be ferried onward are in Bhawargad village, about a km away.

Migrant workers working in Maharashtra rushing into a bus that arrived at MP border at Sendhwa to get back to their villages in UP, Bihar, Jharkhand as Covid-19 pandemic affected their livelihood in cities.(Express photo by Nirmal Harindran)

Since May 10, when the Maharashtra government started ferrying migrant workers in state buses to the ghat to stop them from walking to their hometowns, this outpost has turned into a battleground for seats on the buses.

According to transport officials in Maharashtra, around 1.36 lakh migrants have been ferried to different state borders. “Nearly 70 per cent of those were dropped at the MP border,” said a senior official.

Centre accuses oppn states of not clearing trains for migrants

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal Friday accused governments of West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan — all Opposition-ruled states — of not giving permission to receive the trains, drawing strong rebuttals from the states.

Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal.(Express Photo)

Targeting West Bengal, Goyal said he has been “given estimates that around 30-50 lakh migrant workers” from the state living across India want to go home, and accused the state of going slow. Goyal said that at the rate at which Bengal was planning the trains, only 5-7 per cent of the migrants would be able to reach home by trains.

Sources said that while states such as West Bengal and Rajasthan had been slow to give permission, there was no formal data on how many trains needed to be run to which state and to transport how many stranded migrants.Over 1,200 trains have been earmarked for the Shramik Specials and Railways can run 300 trains every day for the job, Goyal added.

Read| Centre to states: Ensure migrants don’t walk home

For Metro rides, QR-based tickets linked to Aarogya Setu app

The Centre has written to Metro operators across the country suggesting that QR code-based tickets be linked with the Aarogya Setu app to ensure only “safe passengers” gain entry into stations once restrictions are lifted. Metro operators have also been directed to make the app “mandatory” for all passengers along with the wearing of face covers/masks for all commuters.

Symptomatic passengers or those having high temperature shall not be allowed to use Metro. (File Photo)

The guidelines add that use of tokens is to be discouraged since they can be “carriers of the virus”. “It is difficult to sanitise the delicate electronic items. However, Metros may decide based on local conditions,” it states. The guidelines further will only allow asymptomatic passengers to enter the stations.

Symptomatic passengers or those having high temperature shall not be allowed to use Metro and after recording his/her contact number, name and address, he/she shall be directed to report to the nearest medical centre.

COVID-19 tally crosses 1,000-mark in Bihar, Patna reports 100th case

Bihar crossed the 1000 positive coronavirus cases mark Friday when 19 more people tested positive taking the total tally to 1,018. According to Principal Secretary, Health, Sanjay Kumar, Patna district reported its 100th case after a 26-year-old woman tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Nearly half of the cases in the state capital have been reported from the Khajpura locality.

Read| Most domestic violence cases in lockdown from Uttarakhand, Haryana: NALSA

The number of migrants testing positive for COVID-19 upon return is 358.(Express Photo by Vishal Srivastava)

There has been a steep hike since heavy influx of migrants in special trains and buses.The state government puts the number of those having landed till May 14 at 2.46 lakh, most of them from states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab. The number of migrants testing positive for COVID-19 upon return is 358, most of them from Delhi (102), Gujarat (98) and Maharashtra (82).

Govt keeps eye on surges to track hotspots

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is looking out for “surges” in Covid-19 cases to spot emerging hotspots, focussing on contact tracing and containment measures to stop them from turning into “red zones”.

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On Saturday, the Centre will hold a video conference with municipal commissioners of 30 cities which account for about 80% of the total cases in the country to discuss the way ahead for the next phase of the lockdown.

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