May 20, 2020 1:35:49 pm
Coronavirus India Updates: The Health Ministry Wednesday said the Covid-19 recovery rate in India has improved to 39.62 per cent, adding that at least 42,298 people have recovered from the virus. “Globally, 62 people per lakh have been affected with Covid-19. Whereas in India, only 7.9 people per lakh population have been affected by the coronavirus,” Health Secretary Luv Agarwal said. With 5,611 COVID-19 fresh cases — the biggest single-day jump again — India’s confirmed cases rose to 1,06,750, including 3,303 deaths. The number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 61,149, while 42,297 people have recovered and one patient has migrated. There are only ten countries now with more cases than India. Maharashtra continues to be the worst-affected state with 37,136 cases and 1,325 deaths.
The Centre on Wednesday said domestic flight services would begin from Monday, laying the ground for gradual resumption of scheduled commercial flight operations that have been shut since March 25. “Domestic civil aviation operations will recommence in a calibrated manner from Monday May 25, 2020. All airports and air carriers are being informed to be ready for operations from May 25. SOPs for passenger movement are also being separately issued by @MoCA_GoI,” Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted. All domestic passenger flight operations have been suspended for the 54-day lockdown period that began on March 25. However, cargo flights, medical evacuation flights and special flights approved by the aviation regulator DGCA were allowed to operate.
Every day since Sunday, India has detected more than 5,000 new cases of novel Coronavirus infections. This seems to have become the new normal from the 3,500 to 3,800 cases that were being reported every day for about a week prior to that. One of the reasons for the increased number of cases being detected every day is continuously expanding baseload. Another reason for the new cases shooting up could be the impact of relaxations announced in the lockdown. But, the rise in new infections is also due to enhanced testing. India has been testing more and more every day, and it is very well established that more the tests are done, higher would be cases detected.
Lockdown Diary, Day 57: 65-year-old dances her way out of hospital after recovering; 100 animals adopted at Bengaluru zoo
About 95 animals have been adopted by 79 wildlife conservation enthusiasts donating more than 15.15 lakh. This is the first time in Bannerghatta Biological Park’s (BBP) history that a giraffe has also been adopted. One-and-half-year-old giraffe, Yadunandan, was adopted by Wing Commander GB Athri (Retd) by donating Rs 1 lakh. “95 animals have so far been adopted by 79 people donating Rs 15,50,500,” BBP Executive Director Vanashree Vipin Singh told PTI.
Patrons have adopted animals such as elephant, tiger, tigress, leopard and zebra at the BBP, a unit of the Zoo Authority of Karnataka. Three weeks ago, the BBP released a list of animals that can be adopted at the zoo as part of its programme for people with an interest in conserving wildlife.
While lockdown rules have been relaxed, allowing offices to operate in non-containment zones, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) on Tuesday put forth conditions to be strictly followed in work places in the fourth phase of the lockdown, till May 31.
Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad allowed private offices, especially IT and allied firms, in non-containment zones to operate with 50 per cent staff strength, while permitting government offices to operate with 33 per cent manpower.
“Those reporting to their workplaces should be residents of areas outside containment zones,” Gaikwad said.
Independent MLA from Vadgam constituency, Jignesh Mevani, on Wednesday, wrote to Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani claiming that around 70,000 workers are stranded in Mora and Hazira areas of Surat. He urged the state government to immediately send these workers back home and take care of their food and medical needs until they are in Gujarat.
“I am writing to bring to your attention the plight of migrant workers stranded in several parts of Gujarat. In particular, I want to highlight the cases of about 70,000 workers who are stranded in Mora and Hazira in Surat. It seems that all these 70,000 workers are caged and confined so that their cheap labour can be used by the companies,” Mevani stated in his letter addressed to the CM.
“I would urge you to take immediate action to send these workers back home and take care of their food and medical needs until they are in our state. We have a responsibility to take care of them & facilitate their travel during this very difficult lockdown,” Mevani added.
Hyderabad: ‘We are not beggars or prisoners, return us our livelihood,’ say workers stranded at govt shelter
Taking shelter in make-do camps at an exhibition ground in Hyderabad, distressed migrant workers, stranded due to the nationwide lockdown, are now reconsidering their plans to go back home, and demanding jobs from the state government as curbs are gradually eased.
Walking into the huge temporary shelter in Nampally,a few elderly men can be seen sleeping while holding on to their minimum belongings, some lazily chatting away in groups, some seated in a circle playing cards, and a few others aimlessly strolling. With signs of normalcy returning in the city, as businesses and offices prepare to open, almost everyone in the shelter is seeking a job opportunity in the city after a failed chance to go back home.
From nearly 1300 inmates in the last week of March, the shelter is left with less than 150 persons at the moment. Languishing in the temporary shelter run by NGOs with the state’s assistance, migrant workers reiterate that they are neither beggars nor prisoners and demand that their livelihoods be restored by the government if they are not going to be sent back.
The Gautam Budh Nagar administration on Wednesday clarified that the entry of domestic maids, drivers, and service personnel will be permitted in non-containment zones during lockdown 4.0. The statement comes in response to resident welfare associations (RWAs) restricting the entry of domestic workers.
In a press release, the administration said entry of such personnel will be permitted in the non-containment zones given the consent of both the house resident and service personnel.
The statement further said that the RWA’s can only impose restrictions to the extent of enforcing guidelines of compulsory wearing face cover, compulsory sanitisation, thermal screening, and precautionary measures to ensure personal hygiene. The RWA’s can also set up an internal system to regulate number of people who can enter the lift.
Riyaz Ali, a 25-year-old migrant labourer working in Pune, always thought that the distance between him and his family back in Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur district was that of “two-days”. That was the time he would take by train. However, last week, when he set out for home to escape the hardships triggered by the lockdown, he found out – for the first time – that Rampur was 1,460 km away and it could even be a journey of “full seven days”.
Riyaz had to camp on the highway on Pune outskirts for two days before he could board a bus running illegally to Lucknow after paying three times the usual fare. When he reached Lucknow, he squeezed in with 20-odd passengers of an ‘essential supplies’ tempo carrying wheat-flour bags for another five hours before he could finally make it.
As the central and state boards prepare to conduct exams postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has issued strict guidelines to ensure health and safety of students, teachers and other stakeholders during the process.
The MHA, in an official order, has asked all the state boards to stagger their exam schedules and make special provisions. This will also be applicable to central boards CBSE and CISCE. While CBSE has announced to conduct the pending exams from July 1 onwards, several state boards are also in the process of releasing their exam dates.
Among major safety announcements, the MHA has asked boards to ensure that no exam centre falls in the containment zone of any state. Further, the states and UTs have been asked to make arrangements of special buses to transport students to and from their homes and exam centres.
Amid row over buses arranged by her party for migrants in Uttar Pradesh, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra Wednesday asked the Yogi Adityanath government to allow the buses to ply even if it means “pasting BJP flags on these buses”.
In a video message, Vadra said, ‘At 4 pm, it will be 24-hours since the buses were made available. If you want to use it, do it. Give us permission. If you want to use BJP party flags and stickers on the buses then do it. If you want to say that you made those buses available, do it. But let the buses run. Please let us get the migrants home.”
उप्र सरकार ने हद कर दी है। जब राजनीतिक परहेजों को परे करते हुए त्रस्त और असहाय प्रवासी भाई बहनों को मदद करने का मौका मिला तो दुनिया भर की बाधाएँ सामने रख दिए। @myogiadityanath जी इन बसों पर आप चाहें तो भाजपा का बैनर लगा दीजिए, अपने पोस्टर बेशक लगा दीजिए लेकिन हमारे सेवा भाव..1/2 pic.twitter.com/4SW3cax2H5
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) May 19, 2020
“We will have to understand our responsibilities. They (migrant labourers) aren’t just Indians but India’s spinal cord. The country runs on their blood and sweat. It is everyone’s responsibility. It is not the time for politics,” she added.
Public bus services resumed in Punjab on Wednesday almost two months after their suspension in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Buses of the state-owned Punjab Roadways and Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) plied on select routes in non-containment zones within the state, officials said. The state government has said inter-state bus services will not resume till May 31.
Before the start of operations, all buses were sanitised. Passengers had to undergo temperature screening at bus stands before being allowed to board buses, officials said.
Social distancing norms were followed and it was ensured that passengers wore masks and their hands sanitised, they said.
As buses returned to roads in Bengaluru on Tuesday after a two-month long coronavirus-induced lockdown, changes were aplenty. While the Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) began issuing daily or weekly passes to commuters instead of normal tickets in a bid to promote contactless ticketing, many commuters raised an issue of being charged more.
For instance, some commuters said they had to get off the bus after realising that buying a pass worth Rs 70 was not feasible. “I was going to my daughter-in-law’s residence to stay with her for a while. I won’t be travelling elsewhere but why am I forced to pay almost double than the usual rates for this. I have already spent Rs 30 to get a new mask before boarding the bus,” Muniyamma K, a resident of Rajajinagar said.
Another commuter, Ronny Gabriel, a techie said he felt that the idea of contactless ticketing was not complete. “There are a few instances where contact is still in place between passengers and the bus crew – when the pass is signed and given, and then when our ID card is sought for verification. The conductor might be wearing a glove but not all commuters are,” he pointed out.
Noida-Delhi borders will remain sealed, the Gautam Budh Nagar administration said Wednesday as it released guidelines for the fourth phase of the lockdown.
According to officials, a clarification regarding movement between Delhi and Noida has been sought from the state government and the rules will be in place till directions are received.
Two days ago, the state government had said in an order that except for those staying in containment zones in Delhi, anyone can travel to Noida and Ghaziabad. However, an order passed by the Gautam Budh Nagar administration Tuesday morning continuing the system of e-passes for cross-border movement led to traffic jams at DND Flyway and as well as the entry point to Noida from Mayur Vihar. The Delhi government’s guidelines to open government and private offices also contributed to the rush at the borders.
On Sunday (May 17), the Delhi government released new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) under which it declared that “no sample for Covid-19 test will be taken of a dead body”.
This meant that there would henceforth be no testing for the novel coronavirus in a patient who was brought dead to the hospital — and, if there were any suspicions, the last rites would be performed as per the routine Covid protocol.
What does this change of SOPs mean? What are the new guidelines and procedure for handling bodies? The deceased person would be considered to have been Covid-19 positive if that person had been tested before death, and found positive for the virus.
Ola, one of the biggest taxi aggregator in the country, has announced that it is laying off 1,400 its staff as COVID-19 pandemic has sharply hit the revenues of the company.
The revenue of the company has fallen 95 per cent in last two months due to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, news agency PTI reported citing a note by CEO Bhavish Aggarwal.
The layoffs of staff are from rides, financial services and food business, the report said.
The Biplab Deb-led Tripura government claimed Wednesday it has the highest recovery rate of coronavirus in the country as 116 out of the 173 Covid-19 patients in the state have already been discharged from isolation. Speaking to reporters at the state secretariat here, Tripura Law Minister Ratan Lal Nath said while the national average for recovery rate is currently 39 per cent, Tripura stands at 68.83 per cent.
Four new positive cases were identified in Tripura on Wednesday, raising the total number of infections to 173.
“India’s national average for Covid-19 recovery rate is 39 per cent. In Tripura, we stand at 68.63 percent. As of now, our state stands highest in the country for recovery of Covid-19 patients,” he said. Nath informed that even with 173 positive cases, Covid-19 positivity rate is 0.33 per cent with a testing apparatus that is diagnosing 3,773 per million people in the state.
Gurgaon Lockdown 4.0 guidelines: ‘Offices to run with up to 50% staff; cinema halls, metro services suspended’
As part of the Lockdown 4.0 norms to be followed in the district, the Gurgaon District Magistrate announced Wednesday that offices in Gurugram can operate with up to 50 per cent strength and industries can operate with 100 per cent staff, among other key directions. In a four page-long order issued today, DM Amit Khatri said that “all Private Offices can operate with up to 50 per cent strength as per requirement, with the remaining persons working from home.” All industrial establishments “outside Containment zone” shall also be permitted to function with 100 per cent staff, the order read.
Marriages and funerals can take place with guests restricted to 50 and 20 respectively, four-wheeler vehicles can have a maximum of two passengers besides the driver, and intra-state movement of buses is permitted with “not more than 50 per cent of the bus capacity”, were other guidelines in the order.
Activities that will remain suspended are passenger movement by trains, metro rail services, cinema halls, shopping malls, swimming pools, as well as dine in services in restaurants, cafes, and other eateries.
A few days after the lockdown, when the plight of the stranded migrant first started making news, 27-year-old Aatifur Hussain remembered how some people from his village were in Haryana. An advocate from Assam’s Barpeta district, Hussain decided to give them a call. “They were panicking because they had run out of food,” recalls Hussain, who immediately touched base with a few local NGOs in Haryana. “They got their rations within 24 hours. The problem was solved.”
The next day, however, Hussain received another panic call from Noida. “I called up the local police station where the labourers were stuck, and they, too, received help,” says Hussain. Following that, the lawyer was suddenly receiving calls from all over the country — Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra etc. “Word had somehow spread that I was helping stranded migrant workers from Assam with rations.”
In the beginning, Hussain would meticulously note down details of each and every call in his diary, but now the pages have run out. “There were just too many calls,” says Hussain, “It was almost like I was a call centre.”
Vande Bharat Mission: Andhra airports receive 459 stranded Indians
An Air India flight carrying 145 people stranded in London, landed at Vijayawada Airport here on Wednesday, as part of the biggest ever off-shore evacuation drive of Indian citizens under the Vande Bharat Mission. The international airport in Visakhapatnam received two flights, one from Manila (Philippines) and the other from Abu Dhabi with 166 and 148 passengers respectively on Tuesday night, airport authorities said.
In a related development, Jaipur Foot USA Chairman Prem Bhandari has described the ‘Vande Bharat’ exercise as a “historic humanitarian mission” by the Indian government as he along with other members of the Indian-American community accorded a warm welcome to an Air India crew in New York.
Cyclone Amphan brings trouble for West Bengal, Odisha
Already fighting a surge in Covid-19 cases after the return of migrants, the Odisha government now faces the unique challenge of bracing for a cyclone while keeping social distancing in mind. As Cyclone Amphan heads towards West Bengal and several districts of Odisha are on alert, senior officials said a key challenge was that many structures to be used as evacuation centres are currently functioning as quarantine facilities. In Kolkata, cargo and evacuation flight operations at the airport have been suspended till 5 am tomorrow.
Meghalaya reports fresh COVID-19 case
A day after reporting zero active cases in Meghalaya, the state has reported another new case. The person recently returned from Chennai and was in institutional quarantine. This brings the total number of reported cases to 14, with 1 active, 12 recovered and one dead.”We should not panic … but need to handle this with utmost care and responsibility. We need to take care of elderly people and people with comorbid conditions. Asymptotic and young people are recovering from this by observing isolation,” CM Sangma said.
The migrants stuck at Ghazipur are desperate, disillusioned, and convinced they are on their own. ‘You think walking was our first choice? This is our only option,’ they say. These are the voices of those struck at Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border. “If I die on the road, I will die with the hope of home in my heart. Here, I will die with no family, no money, no dignity.” another migrant said.
From June 1, 1200 non-AC trains a day: Railways
From June 1, 1,200 regular non-AC trains will run across the country, the Railways has said. While the routes are being finalised, it is likely these trains will run between cities with large migrant populations such as Surat, Ahmedabad, Delhi, and Hyderabad, and states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which are home to most of these migrant workers.
But in its new SOPs (standard operating procedures) sent to the states, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has said the “movement of Shramik Special trains shall be permitted by Ministry of Railways in consultation with Ministry of Home Affairs”. The train schedule, including stops and destinations, shall be finalised by the Ministry of Railways, “based on the requirements of states/ UTs”.
The current physical distancing guidelines of 6 feet may be insufficient to prevent COVID-19 transmission, according to a study which says a mild cough in low wind speeds can propel saliva droplets by as much as 18 feet. In the study, published in the journal Physics of Fluids, they said even with a slight breeze of about four kilometres per hour (kph), saliva travels 18 feet in 5 seconds.
168 ship crew members stranded in Italy arrive in Goa
A chartered flight carrying 168 Indian ship crew members, who were stranded abroad due to travel restrictions amid the COVID-19 crisis, arrived at the Goa airport from Italy on Wednesday morning, authorities said. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs last week gave its nod for bringing back 414 Goans, who were working with the M/s Costa Cruise Company and were stranded in Italy. “Goa International Airport receives 1st repatriation flight bringing to home 168 seafarers of Goa. All protocol for social distance, hand sanitisation in place, Process of testing to commence shortly, the state airport tweeted. Swab samples of the passengers were collected for testing, a health department official said.
Important stories from The Indian Express
- FM Sitharaman interview: Two days after announcing the fifth and final tranche of the Rs 20 lakh crore AtmaNirbhar package, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Tuesday, responding to a question on the possibility of deficit monetisation (in simple terms, printing currency), said that she had an open mind. And that she would seriously begin work on expenditure rationalisation given that the government’s revenue is likely to be severely hit because of the pandemic and the lockdown. Read her interview with Sunny Verma, P Vaidyanathan Iyer
- ICC’s spit ban can be inconsequential: The prohibition of saliva to shine the ball only addresses the issue of transmission of the coronavirus through the saliva. In reality, despite a ban on saliva in place, the virus can continue to travel between people who are in close contact with one another. Here, Kaunain Sheriff M explains why the ban is inconsequential if other precautions are not taken.
- In Mumbai slums, signs of exodus: The migrants exodus is beginning to show in Mumbai’s densely packed slum areas. There are padlocks on unsteady doors, threadbare bedding rolls stacked behind the downed shutters of sweatshops, and a sudden hush in the alleyways. Unofficial estimates peg the number of working-class Mumbaikars who have left the city since the imposition of the lockdown at 6 to 8 lakh.
- From our opinion page: Shabnam, 35, is on her way from Allahabad, where she worked as a cook, going to Faridabad, Haryana, or Bulandshahr. Read to hear a voice from the road. Listening to a migrant — her opinion and ideas
- From our Explained page: On Monday, US stock markets went soaring on the back of promising results from a vaccine against novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) developed by US pharmaceutical company Moderna. In our explainer, Abantika Ghosh looks at the mRNA-1273 vaccine and how much so much hope has been pinned on it.
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