Coronavirus India Updates: The government on Wednesday banned exports of alcohol-based hand sanitizers to boost its availability in the domestic market amid coronavirus pandemic. “Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are prohibited for exports,” directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT) said in a notification.
Meanwhile, the death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 1,694 and the number of cases inched towards the 50,000-mark with the country registering 49,391 cases, according to the latest figures from the Union Health Ministry. The number of active COVID-19 cases is 33,514. A total of 13,160 people have recovered and one patient has migrated. Maharashtra continues to be the worst-affected state followed by Gujarat.
The number of novel coronavirus cases in West Bengal are characterised by a “very low rate of testing” and “the highest rate of mortality” in the country, the Centre said in a scathing observation Wednesday. In a two-page letter to West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said stricter enforcement of lockdown was necessary and the problems have arisen due to ostracism of healthcare professionals and lack of quarantine facilities in the state.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari Wednesday stated that public transport services are likely to resume operations soon and that the government is in the process of formulating guidelines in adherence to social distancing norms to stem the spread of Covid-19. “Public transport is likely to resume soon… Guidelines will be there,” the Minister for Road Transport, Highways and MSME said while addressing members of Bus and Car Operators Confederation of India via video conference.
Here are the important COVID-19 developments from across India
Mumbai COVID-19 cases cross 10,000-mark; 25 more die
The number of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai crossed the 10,000-mark to 10,527 on Wednesday with 769 more people testing positive for coronavirus and 25 others succumbing to the viral infection, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said. The overall death toll now stands at 412, a release said. A total of 159 patients were discharged from various
hospitals after recovery, taking their number to 2,287, it said.
Ladakh MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal quarantined for 14 days
BJP sitting Lok Sabha member Jamyang Tsering Namgyal along with his family has been quarantined for 14 days at his residence in Leh district of the Union Territory of Ladakh.
Official sources that this followed soon after he reached Leh from Jammu by road on Tuesday. The District Disaster Management Authority has also pasted a notice outside his residence saying ‘visitors not allowed’. Pointing out the total number of family members in the house as ‘five’, the notice mentions the 14 day quarantine period with effect from May 5.
Divisional Commissioner Saugat Biswas when contacted said that it has been done as per protocol prescribed to contain COVID-19 pandemic. Everybody who is coming to Ladakh from elsewhere the country is being quarantined, he said, adding that nearly 1,000 people stranded elsewhere have so far returned to Ladakh during the past over a week.
Lockdown diary: Convict applies for parole to ‘cure depression’; differently-abled woman rides 18 hours to bring home son and more
A mother ailing with a physical disability travelled 1,200 km from Pune to Amravati on a two-wheeler to bring her 14-year-old son back home. On April 25, the 37-year-old woman undertook the 18-hour journey after she received a distress call from her son.
“My son Prateek had gone to my in-laws’ place at a village in Anjangaon Surji tehsil on March 17 and was stuck there after the lockdown was announced on March 22,” Sonu Khandare, an accountant with a private firm was quoted as saying by PTI. After she was granted a travel pass for 48 hours, the mother rode at night and managed to make a pitstop at a petrol pump along the highway near Khamgaon, where she slept on the sidewalk under the watchful gaze of a CCTV camera.
More than 4400 Punjabis, including students, stuck in different countries have approached Punjab government with requests to return home. As per data compiled by the Punjab State Covid Control Room, with 621 such requests, Hoshiarpur tops the districts in the state, followed by Ludhiana (538) and Amritsar (532).
Stranded Punjabis and their family members back home had approached respective deputy commissioners (DCs) and submitted applications on a weblink provided by the government. Out of total 4,442 requests received, 1,654 were made through weblink and 2,788 to the DCs.
Meghalaya CM constitutes task force to revive state economy
Meghalaya has constituted an economic task force to mitigate the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. According to a notification from the Planning Department, Government of Meghalaya signed by Chief Secretary M S Rao, the ‘Chief Ministers Task Force on the Economy for post-COVID Meghalaya’ has been formed to “formulate clear, sector-specific strategies for tackling economic disruptions, identify opportunities and fundamental sectoral reforms for promoting growth in a post COVID world, lay out a clear economic road map for Meghalaya.” The task force will have three committees: the apex committee, the executive committee and the working groups. While the first two committees will be chaired by CM Conrad Sangma, the third will be chaired by senior government officials.
The state has reported 12 cases of COVID-19 — with ten recoveries and one death so far.
Assam’s first COVID-19 patient recovers; active cases now at 9
After more than a month, Assam’s first COVID-19 patient tested negative and was released from the Silchar Medical College Hospital on Thursday.
The 52-year-old was a cancer patient too and spent nearly 35 days in the hospital. Assam reported one more recovery on Friday — the patient was released from the Mahendra Mohan Choudhury Hospital in Guwahati.
Both were confirmed by Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who said that the patients were discharged from hospital after testing negative in three consecutive tests.
“Now the number of active cases in Assam is 9, with total 44 positive cases so far,” he said.
The minister also confirmed that ICMR Delhi had recognised Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh as an accredited lab for COVID-19 testing. The state now has seven such testing facilities.
No new positive cases, no new hotspots in Kerala
No new positive cases were reported in Kerala on Wednesday, while samples of seven people returned negative and only 30 COVID-19 patients are under treatment. Eight of the 14 districts have zero positive cases, including Kozhikode, Malappuram, Ernakulam and Thiruvananthpuram and there are no new hotspots in the state, the Chief Minister said.
Tripura announces to test all journalists working on ground
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb has announced to test all journalists working on the ground for coronavirus. In a tweet, Deb wrote, “Along with other frontline warriors, media personnel are also moving from one place to another for news coverage. In view of their safety, we have decided to test the samples of all media personnel who are working on the ground. #TripuraCares4all.”
He also said the state government would soon announce a scheme to ensure safety of family members of journos working in the midst of coronavirus outbreak.
Meanwhile, vehicles carrying nearly 200 students of Tripura who were stranded at Kota of Rajasthan, reached Churaibari in northern district, where they were put under quarantine as standard operating procedure. They would be tested there for COVID-19 and if found unaffected, they would be released.
The state government earlier announced it would facilitate return of stranded people with authorities in respective states but expense of the journey would have to be borne by the passengers.
Congress blames ‘Namaste Trump’ event for COVID-19 spread in Gujarat
The Gujarat Congress on Wednesday alleged that the ‘Namaste Trump’ event organised by the state BJP government on February 24 was responsible for the spread of coronavirus in the state.
State Congress president Amit Chavda said his party wants an independent probe through a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into this, and will approach the Gujarat High Court soon against government’s “criminal negligence”.
“People were asked to stand shoulder to shoulder on the road to greet the leaders. Lakhs of people were brought to the stadium in buses. This triggered spread of the virus. This event was not a mistake, but a criminal negligence. The ‘Namaste Trump’ event was responsible for community transmission of the virus,” Chavda alleged.
“We will soon file a petition in the Gujarat High Court demanding a judicial inquiry in it through an SIT having field experts as its members. We will demand action against the government, GCA and the ‘Trump Abhivadan Samiti’ (committee formed to organise the event) through this petition,” he added. (PTI)
Ahead of Vande Bharat Mission, Air India staff trained in Kerala
Air India pilots and crew members were trained on how to evacuate Indians from abroad in Kerala today at the Medical College Ernakulam, Kalamassery. An expert infection control panel taught they about PPE kits, infection control practices and management of anticipated health emergencies during the flight. The first batch of Air India staff is scheduled to depart from Kochi on Thursday.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has directed the West Bengal government to allow cross-land border transportation through all Indo-Bangla borders without delay. The Centre on Wednesday came down heavily on the West Bengal government for not allowing movement of essential goods through the Indo-Bangladesh border, saying such acts will have international implications, reported PTI. The Union Home Ministry also told the state government that it has not implemented repeated directions of the Centre for free movement of cargo and this amounts to violation of the Disaster Management Act.
@HMOIndia tells West Bengal that it is. not allowing trucks to cross Indo-Bangla bordering hampering India’s international commitments. Says this is in violation of guidelines issued by the Centre. @IndianExpress
— Deeptiman Tiwary (@DeeptimanTY) May 6, 2020
As Mumbai’s Dharavi has shown, managing a pandemic in a slum can be a nightmare. This is where Agartala’s Radhanagar Purba Basti has set itself apart with general cleanliness, social discipline and community engagement in effectively managing the requirements of the prolonged lockdown.
“We wash our hands at least 3-4 times a day with soap. We stay inside our house,” sums up Pradip Adhikari, a 68-year-old rickshaw puller, among the 2,000 residents of the slum. Adhikari says that since they don’t have money for masks, they use the ‘gamcha’ — a traditional towel — to cover their faces.
Settled around five decades ago, the Radhanagar slum has around 650 families. As part of a 2013 mission to make Tripura slum-free, part of the area was re-developed and 80 families rehabilitated there. Still, the vast majority continues to live in small tin or thatched huts. Like Adhikari, many of the residents are among the 3.40 lakh Antodaya Annapurna Yojana (AAY) beneficiaries in the state, usually given to the poorest of the poor.
The Karnataka government on Wednesday announced a Rs 1,610 crore relief package for the benefit of those in distress due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown.
Additionally, the government has decided to cancel all trains arranged to transport migrants to other states. The state government Tuesday wrote to the South Western Railway (SWR) withdrawing their request to arrange for train services scheduled for Wednesday.
As per the Railways Ministry, 115 Shramik Special trains have been run since May 1. More than 42 trains have been planned for today.
The Congress party on Wednesday questioned the Centre over the criteria it adopted to judge how long the COVID-19-induced lockdown will continue and also asked to reveal the steps that will be taken after the curbs are lifted.
Addressing a meeting of chief ministers of Congress ruled states, party president Sonia Gandhi asked: “What after May 17?.” “After May 17th, What? and After May 17th, How?…what criteria is GoI (government of India) using to judge how long the lockdown is to continue…,” Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala quoted Sonia Gandhi as saying in the video conference with CMs.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who was also present at the meeting, said, “We need to know, as Soniaji said, what will happen after lockdown 3.0?”. “Soniaji has already pointed out. CMs need to deliberate and ask as to what is the strategy of the government of India to get the country out of lockdown,” Singh asked.
Delhi constable dies after falling sick; samples sent for COVID-19 test
A 31-year-old constable, posted with North-West district’s Bharat Nagar police station, died on Tuesday. His colleagues took him to RML Hospital where they were informed that he died on the way. He had complained of fever and cough on Tuesday morning and was tested for COVID-19. His test reports are awaited.
Punjab government has ordered opening of liquor vends in the state from Thursday with a provision to deliver liquor at doorstep of residents. The stores would be allowed to open only during the curfew relaxation hours — from 9 am to 1 pm. In an order issued by the government Tuesday evening, not more than two litres of liquor would be allowed to be delivered to a single buyer. The government, however, has not given permission for delivery of Punjab Made Liquor (PML).
The official handle of Aarogya Setu asserted late on Tuesday that “no data or security breach had been identified” in the app. The Setu team said the hacker had pointed out two issues – “the app fetches user location on a few occasions”, and a “user can get the Covid-19 stats displayed on home screen by changing the radius and latitude-longitude using a script.”
— Aarogya Setu (@SetuAarogya) May 5, 2020
The team, however, said fetching of a user’s location is “by design”, and it is “stored on the server in a secure, encrypted and anonymised manner.” Regarding the second issue, the team said the radius parameters on the app “are fixed and can only take one of the five values: 500m, 1km, 2km, 5 km, and 10 km.” It added that the information does not “compromise on any personal or sensitive data”.
AC in the time of COVID
A number of researchers have predicted that the novel coronavirus is unlikely to survive high temperatures. The government has issued general guidelines on the use of air-conditioners. These are limited to temperature and relative humidity in the context of the virus.
Explained | Why Tamil Nadu is latest cause for worry
For the last few days, Tamil Nadu has been adding to its coronavirus numbers at a very fast pace. It has nearly doubled in the last one week, from 2058 to 4058. The state reported over 500 new cases on each of the last two days and was the single biggest contributor to the national numbers after Maharashtra.
Unlike some other states like Punjab or West Bengal, where the sudden surge in the numbers in recent days could be attributed to specific reasons, it is not clear what is causing the rise in numbers in Tamil Nadu. After all, the number of new cases were increasing at a much more modest rate in Tamil Nadu earlier. Its previous doubling had taken 17 days.
Liquor shops re-open in Telangana; tipplers throng stores
After remaining shut for over a month in view of the COVID-19 lockdown, liquor shops in Telangana re-opened on Wednesday with impatient tipplers forming serpentine queues even before the shutters went up. Owners of the outlets performed special prayers with flowers, coconuts, incense sticks and offered ‘Aarti’ (lighting traditional lamp and camphor) infront of the stores at several places, before commencing business. However, bars, pubs and other outlets that serve booze will remain shut.
In case you missed it: Important stories from The Indian Express
- Reversal in growth rate noted since May 1: According to data, the 7-day compounded daily growth rate (CDGR) of Covid-19 cases started dipping on April 8. The overall downward trend continued till May 1 when the curve started rising again. Since May 3, the 3-day CDGR curve has remained above the 7-day CDGR
- Govt to bring back Indians from abroad: Starting Thursday, India will operate 64 flights until May 13 and use three Navy ships, as part of Phase I of an evacuation plan, to bring home nearly 15,000 Indians stranded overseas. According to the schedule, the first of the 64 flights will carry 209 passengers from Abu Dhabi to Cochin International Airport on May 7. Another flight will transport 200 passengers from Dubai to Kozhikode the same day.
- From our Explained page: Medium, Small & Micro Enterprises have been the focus of the government’s relief package. What makes them most vulnerable to Covid-19 disruptions? A look at the numbers, problems, possible ways forward.
- Unemployment in India sores: India’s unemployment rate surged to 27.11 per cent for the week ended May 3 from the level of 6.74 per cent in the week ended March 15, the data from the CMIE showed. The rate of unemployment was the highest in urban areas, which include the majority of the red zones due to the Covid-19 cases, at 29.22 per cent, as against 26.16 per cent for rural areas.
- Express Interview with Abhijit Banerjee: Abhijit Banerjee’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), of which he is co-founder, has done several Randomised Control Trials around tech-based learning interventions. With COVID-19 forcing educational institutions around the world to move to online classes, the Nobel laureate speaks to The Indian Express about why this shift is a “forced experience but a good one”.
- Admissions under Ayushman Bharat fall: The Covid pandemic and the lockdown that entered its 42nd day on Tuesday have adversely affected people’s access to medical care across the country, hindering even the Ayushman Bharat-Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana’s (AB-PMJAY) ability to cater to critical patients below the poverty line.
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