Coronavirus India updates: With India entering its 46th day of the lockdown, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday said the testing capacity for COVID-19 has been scaled up to around 95,000 tests per day and a total of 15,25,631 tests had been conducted so far across 332 government and 121 private laboratories.
Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 cases in the country neared the 60,000 mark, including 1,981 deaths. While the number of active cases stood at 39,834, as many as 17,846 persons have recovered so far.
Follow coronavirus LIVE UPDATES
As many as 129 nationals arrived in Delhi on Saturday from Dhaka in an Air India repatriation flight as part of the government’s Vande Bharat Mission to bring home stranded Indians from foreign countries. Passengers from Dubai and Muscat have boarded and are all set to fly back to Lucknow and Kochi respectively. More Indians are scheduled to arrive from London and Malaysia.
Globally, nearly 40 lakh people have tested positive for the deadly virus since its emergence in China last December, while approximately 2.75 lakh people have lost their lives. However, nearly 13 lakh people have recovered too, including nearly 2 lakh in the US and over 1.4 lakh in Germany.
Here are the other major Covid-19 developments of the day
Testing capacity scaled up to 95,000 per day: Health Minister
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the testing capacity for Covid-19 across the country has been scaled up to around 95,000 tests per day. Vardhan, who reviewed the Covid-19 situation in the northeastern states, also stressed on the need to take concrete action to check the use of non-smoking tobacco and prohibit spitting in public places which shall help in preventing the spread of the infection, according to a statement.
During the high-level meeting with Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim, Vardhan appreciated the dedication of all the states in combating the virus.
“It is a huge relief and very encouraging to see green zones in most northeastern states. As of date, only Assam and Tripura have active COVID-19 cases. Other states are all in the green zone. Let us focus and work together by converting the orange zones to green zones and maintain the protective status across the states,” Vardhan was quoted as saying in the statement.
Several migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha working at Surat’s Hazira industrial belt came on to the streets in Mora village, demanding that they be sent back to their home states, and clashed with the police.
The migrants pelted stones at the police personnel who resorted to lathi charge and fired tear gas to disperse the mob. About 100 workers were detained in this connection. Two police men suffered minor injuries in the stone pelting incident.
Gujarat Congress president Amit Chavda described the spate of such incidents in the state as the result of the government’s failure.
गुजरात में श्रमिक अपने घर जाना चाहते हैं, सरकार 45 दिन के बाद भी कोई सही हल नहीं निकाल रही है,या तो उद्योगपति मित्रो के दबाव में जानबूझकर उनको घर नही जाने दिया जाता,गुजरात के कही शहरों के श्रमिकों और पुलिस का टकराव @narendramodi @vijayrupanibjp सरकार की नाकामी का परिणाम है https://t.co/wX89JtLCi3
— Amit Chavda (@AmitChavdaINC) May 9, 2020
Joint police commissioner DN Patel said, “These migrant workers are from Jharkhand, Bihar and UP and some from Odisha and they wanted to go back to their home state. Our personnel explained to them peacefully but they did not co-operate and pelted stones on police. We have brought the situation under control and have detained 100 people. As per the guidelines, medical examination of all the arrested migrants will be done and those who are found symptomatic, Covid-19 test will also be done. Two police men had incurred minor injuries in the stone pelting incident and they are under medication.”
Bengal govt not allowing trains with migrants to reach state: Amit Shah
Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a letter to West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee has said that the state government is creating further hardships for migrants by not allowing trains with migrant workers to reach the state. Shah said not allowing trains to reach West Bengal is “injustice” to the migrant workers from the state.
Referring to the ‘Shramik Special’ trains being run by the central government to facilitate the transport of migrant workers from different parts of the country to various destinations, the home minister said in the letter that the Centre has facilitated more than two lakh migrants workers to reach home.
Over 360 Kashmiri students to return home from Bhopal in 18 buses
Over 360 Kashmiri students stranded in parts of Madhya Pradesh due to the lockdown will be sent back to their native places 18 buses from Bhopal on Saturday, an official said. The buses will leave around 2 pm from a private school in Gandhinagar locality where the students are currently accommodated.
Are immunity passports, release certificates the way to go
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh had recently written a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, requesting him to make necessary arrangements for the nearly 400 Kashmiri students stuck in the state. He had said that as Jammu and Kashmir is under the central rule, it is the Centre’s duty to help the people from that region stranded in different parts of the country.
Two Indians repatriated from Gulf test Covid-19 positive in Kerala
Two Indians repatriated from the Gulf as part of ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ to bring home Indians stranded abroad have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The two new patients, flown from Dubai and Abu Dhabi to Kozhikode and Kochi respectively, are among the 363 who landed in Kerala on special flights Thursday. With this, the state has reported two new cases, besides one recovery, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Saturday.
Vijayan said with the two new patients, the total number of cases in the state has gone up to 505 and there are currently 17 under treatment. “There are 23,930 people under observation in the state out of which 334 are in isolation wards of various hospitals,” he said.
Days after announcing a number of measures to relax the lockdown norms for industries, Tamil Nadu on Saturday came out with many more decisions to relax certain lockdown measures in non-containment areas in the state. Relaxations that comes in effect from May 11 said all private establishments can function with 33% strength between 10.30 am and 6 pm in Greater Chennai Police limits and 10 am and 7 pm in the rest of the state.
As per the relaxed norms, vegetable shops and grocery stores in the Greater Chennai Police limits and in the rest of the state shall remain open between 6 am and 7 pm and the standalone, neighbourhood shops shall be opened between 10.30 am and 6 pm in in Chennai city limits. Across the state, timings are between 10 am and 7 pm.
Assam hikes excise duty of IMFL by 25%
The Assam government has decided to increase the excise duty on Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) by 25 per cent, state Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said after a Cabinet meeting on Friday.
According to the state minister, this move will generate an additional income of Rs 1,000 crore for the state to deal with the financial burden and expenditure arising out of the coronavirus crisis. Other states including Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Delhi have hiked liquor prices already to give a boost to their revenue income.
In a decision that will cut down India’s need for Covid-19 testing kits, the Ministry of Health in a late night direction on Friday, said that mild and moderate cases do not need to be tested prior to discharge. As per the earlier policy, patients had to test negative twice prior to discharge.
“Mild/very mild/pre-symptomatic cases admitted to a Covid Care Facility will undergo regular temperature and pulse oximetry monitoring. The patient can be discharged after 10 days of symptom onset and no fever for 3 days. There will be no need for testing prior to discharge. At the time of discharge, the patient will be advised to follow the home isolation for further 7 days as per guidelines…” reads the revised discharge policy on the ministry of health website.
5000 Indians stranded abroad will enter Haryana through special flights
Starting today, Haryana is expecting around 5000 people returning from abroad through special flights of Air India arranged by the Ministry of External Affairs. However, on arrival, they have to adhere to some mandatory instructions: downloading the Aarogya Setu app the moment they land and 14-day quarantine followed by a coronavirus test.They can return home only after quarantine, the test, and a certificate issued by the health department.
“The first batch of 67 persons, 21 of whom are from Haryana and remaining from other states, landed in Delhi from Singapore at 12 noon. Another flight from Dhaka is expected to bring back more people from Haryana on Saturday,” said Dr Hanif Qureshi, senior IPS officer, who has been appointed as nodal officer by the Haryana government.
Over 20,000 Indians stranded abroad to enter Punjab in the next few days
Over 20,000 Indians stranded abroad are expected to land in Punjab over the next few days starting Saturday, for whom the state government is making arrangements of ‘paid quarantine’ for 14 days. One such flight will land in New Delhi on Saturday from Dhaka with seven Punjabis on board. On May 11, another flight from Dhaka with 11 more Punjabis will arrive, while 56 Punjabis will be coming from the US on May 19 via New Delhi.
If a passenger chooses to stay in a government quarantine centre, no charges will be levied.Meanwhile, the hotel industry is gearing up to offer their buildings as quarantine centres as otherwise also, the hotels are vacant and running into losses.
Alarm over migrant workers as Odisha sees spike
As the Supreme Court Friday stayed an interim order by the Orissa High Court asking the state government to ensure that the migrants seeking to come back “should (have) tested negative” for Covid-19, concerns are rising in the state about cases linked to returning workers.
Ganjam district, that had two cases on May 2, has 47 now, all linked to migrant labourers coming from hotspot Surat in Gujarat. In the orange zone earlier, Ganjam now is third in Odisha in number of cases, after Jajpur (55) and Khurda (50).
Other districts in Odisha have also reported cases of labourers returning from Surat testing positive — Bhadrak (3), Kendrapora (5), Balasore (2), Mayubhanj (4) and Jagatsinghpur (4).