Coronavirus India Updates: The first phase of the Vande Bharat mission to evacuate nearly 15,000 Indians stranded abroad due to the Covid-19 enforced lockdown kicked off on Thursday even as the number of cases back home breached the 50,000 mark, with 3500 fresh infections reported. The tally stands at 52,952, including 15,266 recoveries and as many as 1,783 deaths. “Thus, around 28.83 per cent of patients have recovered so far,” a health ministry official said.
While it took India nearly a month and a half to discover the first 10,000 cases, the journey from 40,000 to 50,000 cases has taken just four days. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking at a virtual global Buddha Purnima event, said healthcare professionals working selflessly for others in these difficult times were worthy of praise. Follow LIVE Updates
Here are the important Covid-19 developments from across India
Vande Bharat, Samudra Setu missions to evacuate Indians begins
Two flights from the UAE carrying more than 350 Indian nationals left for Kerala on Thursday as part of the government’s Vande Bharat mission to bring back its citizens stranded abroad.
The Air India Express flight IX452 took off from Abu Dhabi to Kochi, which was followed by a Dubai-Kozhikode flight of the same airline. Passengers started arriving at Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports as early as 9.30 am on Thursday. Some of the passengers were carrying the Indian flags, PTI reported.
Indian Ambassador Pavan Kapoor was seen enquiring about the procedure from some of the passengers undergoing medical screening at the Abu Dhabi airport. “Kudos to all the passengers for waiting patiently for their turn for medical screening and many thanks to all the frontline health workers and airport staff for extending full support,” the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi tweeted.
In addition to the air evacuation, two naval ships have left for Maldives on Tuesday to bring back the Indian citizens. The Centre has made arrangements to operate 64 flights from May 7 to May 13 from the Gulf countries, Singapore, US, and UK among others to bring back stranded Indian nationals.
The MHA on Monday said “medical screening of passengers” would be done before a flight. “Only asymptomatic passengers would be allowed to travel,” it said.
“On reaching the destination, everyone would have to register on the Aarogya Setu app. Everyone would be medically screened. After scrutiny, they would be quarantined for 14 days, either in a hospital or in an institutional quarantine on payment-basis, by the concerned state government. Covid-19 test would be done after 14 days and further action would be taken according to health protocols. State governments are being advised to make arrangements,” it said.
PM Modi: India standing strongly with those in need in these difficult times
Thursday also marks Buddha Purnima in India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent a special message through a virtual global event. PM Modi said that while India was making every effort to save the life of every citizen from coronavirus, it was also taking its global obligations during the pandemic very seriously.
“People world over working selflessly for others in these difficult times are worthy of praise. While India is making every effort to save the life of every Indian today, it is also taking its global obligations equally seriously. India is standing strong and selflessly in these difficult times with those facing trouble in India or abroad,” PM Modi said. The PM also asserted that India’s growth would always be aiding global growth.
While the teachings of Buddha tells us to strive to overcome difficult situations, there is certainly one at hand for the government in respect to the soaring number of cases.
The number of confirmed cases of Coronavirus infection crossed the 50,000 figure mark on Thursday, with the city of Mumbai alone contributing over 10,000 cases. While it took India nearly a month and a half to discover the first 10,000 cases, the journey from 40,000 to 50,000 cases has taken just four days.
Covid-19 vaccine: Search, progress
By some estimates, over 40 vaccine candidates are in various stages of development around the world. A recent announcement by the University of Oxford that researchers there had started testing a vaccine against the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has raised hopes. Over the last few weeks, there have also been somewhat conflicting reports about the performance of a drug candidate, remdesivir, while Israel has announced a breakthrough in another possible line of treatment, that with antibodies. Until the Oxford announcement, one of the most promising candidates was believed to be one developed by Moderna, a biotechnology company, that is now into phase I clinical trials under the aegis of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Globally, now there are only 13 countries with more infections than India.There are seven states with 3000 or more cases – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh – and these together account for more than 43,000 of the 52,800 cases in India right now, which is more than 80 per cent of the entire caseload. Add the cases of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and West Bengal as well, and this takes care of over 90 per cent of all confirmed infections in India.
A day after the Karnataka government decided to cancel all trains arranged to transport migrants to other states to “revive the economy”, the BS Yeddyurappa-led government Thursday directed to restart train services following criticism of its earlier decision.
The state government has written to nodal officers of various states seeking their consent to operate trains to their states from May 8 to 15. After Karnataka stopped the train, hundreds of people began walking home from Bengaluru. Migrant labourers from North Indian states were seen walking back to their states. After this development, the state government decided to run 100-plus trains to nine states.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, N Manjunath Prasad, Nodal Officer for Migrants in Karnataka said, “we have written letters to different states seeking their consent to operate the trains for the transportation of stranded migrant labourers, students, tourists, and other people. Once we receive their consent we will start the train services.”
Two BSF men die due to Covid-19
Two BSF personnel succumbed to Covid-19 on Thursday even as the total infections in the force inched towards 200. Along with CRPF (161), ITBP (45) and SSB (13), the total infections in paramilitary forces have now crossed 400. Barring 30 cases in Tripura, all cases have been reported in Delhi.
Moreover, 41 more personnel from the force tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday, taking the total infections in the BSF to 193. Of the 41 new infections, 12 belonged to the company that was deployed to maintain law and order in Jama Masjid and Chandani Mahal areas with Delhi police. This company of 94 personnel now has 73 positive cases.
Among the two BSF personnel who died, one had kidney ailment and had been going through dialysis while the other had no co-morbidities. The latter was 45 years of age and died within two days of developing symptoms. His test results came three days after his death.
All visas for foreign nationals outside India remain suspended
Coming to the US, the Indian Embassy in Washington said all visas for foreign nationals and the OCI card visa-free travel for Indian-origin people, who are not in the country, would remain suspended till the restrictions on international travel in India were in place.
However, for all foreign nationals inside the country whose visas have expired and cannot travel out of India due to the international travel restrictions, can apply for their visa extension without any additional fee, the embassy said, according to a PTI report.
Visa free travel facility granted to Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card holders who are not in India presently, will continue to remain in abeyance till prohibition on international air travel of passengers from/to India is lifted. The OCI card of a traveler presently in India shall remain valid, the embassy said.
CSIR submits 53 genome sequences of Covid-19 in Indians
Amidst concerns that coronavirus have undergone mutation and the new strain maybe more contagious, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has submitted as many as 53 genome sequences of the virus to a global genome database, a move that may help in better understanding of the virus and developing a vaccine.
CSIR is also planning to submit additional 450 genome sequence data of coronavirus by May 15, its Director General Shekhar Mande told PTI. “We have so far submitted 53 genome sequences to the GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data). By May 15, we intend to submit additional 450 genome sequences,” Mande said.
Over 51,000 migrants brought back to UP by ‘Shramik’ special trains
Till Thursday, over 51,000 stranded migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh have reached the state in 43 special ‘Shramik’ trains since the service was launched on May 1 in view of the nationwide lockdown. Thirteen more trains carrying migrants are expected to arrive in different parts of the state by midnight, PTI reported.
These 43 trains arrived at stations such as Agra, Kanpur, Lucknow, Jaunpur, Gorakhpur, Pratapgarh, Rae Bareli, Kannauj, Banda, Azamgarh, Barabanki, Sitapur and Unnao. There were 51,371 workers and labourers on these 43 trains, Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Awasthi said. As many as 43 more trains with about 53,000 people from other parts of the country will be arriving from Friday onwards, he said.
TN man who claimed to have found ‘herbal’ cure for Covid-19 arrested
With the government proactively clamping down on fake news around the novel coronavirus, a Tamil Nadu man, who claimed to have found a herbal medicine to cure Covid-19 and later spread the message through his social media pages, has been arrested by the state Crime Branch.
On Monday, the director of Indian Medicine and Homeopathy lodged a police complaint against one Thanikasalam for spreading false information through newspapers and social media. According to a release by the Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Department, Thanikasalam had been running a Siddha hospital near the Koyembedu bus stand without any medical qualification.
“Thanikasalam claimed that he had found a medicine that could cure Covid-19 and spread false information through newspapers and social media putting people’s lives at risk. The director of Indian Medicine Homeopathy has formally lodged a complaint and the action was being initiated on him,” the release said.