Coronavirus India Updates: Amid speculation on whether the nationwide lockdown will be lifted after May 3, the Union Home Ministry Wednesday said new rules will come in effect after that date, giving “considerable relaxations to many districts”. The Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson said in a tweet: “MHA held a comprehensive review meeting on the lockdown situation today. There’ve been tremendous gains & improvement in the situation due to lockdown till now. To ensure that these gains are not squandered away, the lockdown guidelines should be strictly observed till 3rd May.”
“New guidelines to fight COVID19 will come into effect from 4th May, which shall give considerable relaxations to many districts. Details regarding this shall be communicated in the days to come,” it added.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday said of the total active COVID-19 cases in the country, only 0.33 per cent patients are on ventilators, 1.5 per cent are on oxygen support and 2.34 per cent are in ICU. Active COVID-19 patients are those who have been diagnosed with the disease and are currently undergoing treatment in hospitals or are lodged in quarantine facilities. The death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 1,008 and the number of cases climbed to 31,787 in the country on Wednesday, according to the Union Health Ministry. The number of active COVID-19 cases stand at 22,982 in the country, according to the data updated on Wednesday evening.
The Ministry of Home Affairs Wednesday also issued revised guidelines, allowing movement of migrant workers, students, tourists and pilgrims stranded in different states. The movement would happen only in groups and those travelling will be screened before movement. The movement will require mutual agreement between the sending and receiving states. In its revised guidelines, the MHA said all States/Union Territories should designate nodal authorities and develop standard protocols for receiving and sending such stranded persons—migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons.
Meanwhile, Punjab has extended the curfew in the state by two more weeks but with a relaxation of four hours everyday, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said Wednesday. Addressing the people of the state, Amarinder Singh said residents would be allowed to step out of their homes from 7 am to 11 am every day. In Madhya Pradesh’s worst-hit Indore, the number of COVID-19 cases saw a sharp increase on Wednesday as they mounted to 1,466, with 94 new cases being reported in the last 24-hours. This comes despite the curfew being in place in urban areas of the district for more than a month now.
The Centre on Wednesday also made it mandatory for all its employees to download the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones, saying the application will be helpful in breaking the chain of transmission of COVID-19. Those working in the Central government, including officers and outsourced staff, will have to review their status on the app before they start for office. They can come report to work only when if it reflects “safe” or “low risk” status.
Maharashtra is the worst-affected state with at least 400 deaths and over 9,318 cases including 1,388 recoveries so far, followed by Gujarat with 3774 cases and 226 deaths. Delhi recorded 206 new cases on Wednesday, taking the tally to 3314 positive cases and 54 deaths. So far, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur and Tripura have been declared Covid free. Mizoram (1), Puduchery (8) and Meghalaya (12) have the least number of cases.
Here are key updates over coronavirus across the country:
Delhi’s COVID-19 cases tally stands at 3,314; sees 201 recoveries, highest in a day
The total number of COVID-19 cases in Delhi rose to 3,314 on Tuesday, even as 201 coronavirus patients recovered from the disease, the highest so far in a day with no fatalities, authorities said. No death was reported for the third consecutive day in the national capital.
Among the 3,314 cases includes a Delhi Police constable attached to the crime branch. The constable had visited the Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation in Nizamuddin, which had last month become the epicentre of the COVID-19 spread.
Fifteen members of the crime branch team, who came in touch with the constable, have been advised home quarantine.
So far, 1,078 COVID-19 patients have recovered and there are 2,182 active cases in Delhi.
The number of containment zones in the city reached 100.
The Assam government Wednesday announced a slew of austerity measures to “rationalise expenditure and optimise available resources” in the wake of the Covid outbreak.
The government made it mandatory for department heads to obtain permission from the finance department before approving implementation of schemes. It also ordered the reduction of establishment expenditure — instead of the earlier 20 per cent only 10 per cent of the total budget will be spent in the first quarter of the financial year. Moreover, the order stated: “All expenses pertaining to industrial exemptions, subsidies and incentives of various sectors are hereby suspended until further orders.”
Yogi Adityanath orders to impose Gangsters Act, NSA against those attacking ‘Corona warriors’
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath has ordered to impose Gangsters Act, 1986, and NSA against those who attacked ‘Corona Warriors’ in Kanpur, along with action under Pandemic and Disaster Management Act.
— Maulshree Seth (@MaulshreeSeth) April 29, 2020
Citing experts, Mamata says lockdown should continue till end of May
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said experts and doctors are of the opinion that the restrictions imposed to check the spread of COVID-19 should continue in the state till the end of May.
She also announced a few relaxations, in accordance with the orders of the central government, such as opening stand alone shops in green zones and non-containment zones, following all precautionary and social distancing measures.
“Nobody can say when this crisis will end. Most of the countries have already announced the lockdown till the end of May and the first week of June. Our experts and doctors believe that the restrictions regarding COVID-19 should continue till the end of May,” she said.
A string of new infections in double digits in districts that had been declared Covid-19-free has heightened worries among health officials in Kerala at a time when the state has been leading from the front in combating the pandemic.
Between April 12 and April 20, the state recorded only 34 new cases of coronavirus in a sign that the curve of new infections was beginning to stabilise. In those days, the number of patients who recovered from the infection each day remained consistently higher than new cases. But between April 21 and April 27, the state saw 74 new cases added to its tally, taking by surprise doctors and health officials in war-rooms who had been keeping a watch on the situation.
In fact, Kottayam district in central Kerala, which had the last of its coronavirus patients getting discharged in the first week of April, accounted for 17 of those new cases. The neighbouring hilly district of Idukki, which was also Covid-free by the second week of April, reported 14 cases. Both districts, plotted under ‘green zone’ had been enjoying the fruits of lockdown relaxations when they were swept by new cases of infection.
The number of positive coronavirus cases in UP crossed 2,000 on Tuesday and reached 2,053, with 67 cases added in the past 24 hours. While it took 45 days for the state to report first 1,000 cases, the next 1,000 cases to reach 2,000 took just nine days. The state has so far recorded 34 coronavirus- related deaths and at least 463 patients have been discharged from hospitals after recovery, including 64 since Monday.
According to the state health department, the total cases are spread across 60 districts in the state and seven districts among them do not have any active case now. The state now has 1,557 active cases.
“A total of 4,384 samples were tested on Monday and an additional 2,900 samples have been sent to laboratories across the state for testing. The Chief Minister [Yogi Adityanath] has directed that the number of isolation beds at Level-1 hospitals is to be increased and in that regard we have making some temporary hospitals and have finalised the places for that. By Tuesday evening, we will notify these places and hopefully by Wednesday, we will add 8,000 more beds for isolation facilities. Even though the active cases in the state are at 1,557, we already have 10,000 beds and these 8,000 will be in addition,” said Principal Secretary (Health) Amit Mohan Prasad.
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram Wednesday urged the government to announce a scheme on the lines of the “paycheck protection program” in the US to protect the salaries and wages of 12 crore employees in the wake of nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
“Time is of the essence. In the absence of a clear signal of assistance from the government during these extremely difficult times, the private sector will be forced to resort to large scale retrenchments and layoffs, which will devastate livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people,” the former finance minister said at a press conference through video conferencing.
“We urge the prime minister to step in urgently and announce an assistance package to protect the wages/salaries and pay cheques that are due in the next few days,” he said, urging the government to ensure the April month salary of workers in both in the MSME and non-MSME sectors.
Two flights, 17 destinations: Bengaluru airport facilitates transit for 3,000 foreign nationals amid lockdown
As thousands of international passengers remain stranded across the world due to the lockdown, Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport claims to have facilitated the transit of nearly 3,000 foreign nationals to 17 destinations across the globe.
According to Bengaluru International Airport Limited (BIAL) officials, as many as 22 flights carrying foreign nationals took off from the airport in the last month.
While the first evacuation from Bengaluru airport was to Frankfurt with Air India operating a flight on March 31, Tokyo emerged as the destination with the largest number of passengers, with JAL operating three flights over three consecutive days. The other destinations to which passengers flew from Bengaluru include Incheon (South Korea), Azerbaijan, Baghdad, Cairo, Colombo, Doha, Frankfurt, London, Male, Muscat, Paris, Paro (Bhutan), Riyadh, Rome, Stockholm and Tbilisi (Georgia).
AIIMS planning to conduct clinical trial of plasma therapy
The All India Institute Of Medical Sciences is planning to conduct a clinical trial of the convalescent plasma therapy in the treatment of COVID-19 and modalities of taking approvals from the Drug Controller General of India are being worked out. AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria said the mode of treatment in COVID-19 is still at an “experimental stage” and there is a need for good and well-conducted research trials before its benefit and this mode of therapy can be recommended for routine use in coronavirus patients.
“AIIMS is working with the ICMR to conduct a clinical trial on the efficacy of convalescent plasma therapy in COVID-19 patients,” he said. The doctor said it is necessary for all institutes to take necessary approvals from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Drug Controller General of India and follow proper clinical practice guidelines for this research. “In very limited studies, globally, convalescent plasma as an adjunct to other supportive therapies and treatments has shown some benefit in the management of severe patients of COVID-19,” Guleria said.
CBSE set for Board exams after lockdown ends
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is prepared to hold the remaining board exams approximately 10 days after the day the nationwide lockdown ends, state education ministers were told in a meeting with the HRD minister on Tuesday, even as some of them suggested that Class 10 and 12 students be promoted based on internal assessment.
The minister also asked state governments to start evaluating their board exam answer scripts and assist the CBSE in doing the same. According to ministry sources, the Centre-run school board is planning to deliver the answer sheets to examiners at home and, hence, needs the state administration’s cooperation.
Gene sequencing doesn’t suggest ‘Indian’ COVID-19 strain so far
The ongoing analysis of the gene sequences of the novel coronavirus has so far not revealed anything to suggest that the virus present in India is in any way different from that circulating in other parts of the world. There is also no evidence, as of now, of any one particular strain of the virus being more deadly than the other, scientists have said.
Gautam Menon, a professor of computational biology and theoretical physics at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai, said even in other parts of the world, there was no “unambiguous” evidence to suggest that any one strain of the virus was more “virulent” than the other.
Infant among 73 new COVID-19 cases in AP
An 11-month-old baby was among the 73 people who tested positive for coronavirus in Andhra Pradesh in the last 24 hours ending 9 am on Wednesday. The state's Covid-19 tally now crossed the 1300 mark and touched 1,332, the latest government bulletin said.
Viruses, or indeed any organism, develop minor but permanent changes in their genetic codes, called mutations, over a period of time due to a variety of factors, including climatic and environmental conditions. It is these variations that are responsible for the diversity that is seen in any organism.
Hotspot districts shrunk to 129 from the 177
Nearly after three weeks of implementing the curbs, the number of hotspot districts (red zones) has shrunk to 129 from the 177 — India has 736 districts — that were identified on April 15. The number of orange zone districts has risen from 207 on April 15 to 250 now, sources in the Health Ministry said. Twenty of the red-zone districts account for 60 per cent of the novel coronavirus case load in the country, data available with the Ministry show.
This data is crucial as the government explores modalities for relaxations after May 3. Over the past few weeks, the disease has spread to more districts, but it is in the major urban centres of Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Indore, and Ahmedabad that the clusters of larger and faster transmission have emerged.
Maharashtra and Gujarat account for 60% of all Covid-19 deaths in India
Maharashtra and Gujarat together reported over 50 Coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, as the total number of dead in the country reached close to 1000. The two states alone account for almost 60 per cent all deaths in the country.
Ahmedabad once again reported 19 deaths on a single day, taking the city’s death count to 129. Two days earlier too, it had reported 19 deaths. Twenty-five of the 31 deaths in Maharashtra came from Mumbai. Some of them had died a few days earlier but their tests were confirmed only on Tuesday. Together Maharashtra and Gujarat now have seen the death of at least 583 people.