Coronavirus India updates: Maharashtra continued to remain as the worst coronavirus effected state in India as total cases in the state crossed 10,000 mark on Thursday evening, the state health department said. The tally now reads 10,498 cases with 583 new cases registered today while the death toll now sits at 459.
Authorities across states began preparations to help lakhs of migrant workers and students reach their homes from different parts of the country where they are stranded for over a month due to the COVID-19 lockdown, even as the deadly virus infection spread further to take the nationwide tally of positive cases to over 33,600. The tally not sits at 33,610 with over 1,000 cases reported since Wednesday evening. According to The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, of the confirmed cases, 8,373 have been cured and the number of fatalities rose to 1,075 from 1008.
The Union Health Ministry, however, said the recovery rate of COVID-19 patients has also improved to nearly 25.2 per cent, from about 13 per cent a fortnight ago.
Over the past three weeks, there has been a significant change in the growth curves of the states. Some states, such as Kerala (496 cases), has done well to contain the epidemic, while Maharashtra (9915 cases) and Delhi (3439 cases), have seen a steady rise in numbers.
Gujarat (4082 cases), which had a modest case load earlier, emerged as fast-growing hotspots. And states such as West Bengal (744 cases), Bihar (407 cases) and Jharkhand (107 cases) have just begun to show signs that they could potentially turn into trouble zones over the next few days, although their current case load is not very high.
Here are key updates over coronavirus across the country:
TN reports more than 100 Covid-19 cases for two consecutive days
On Wednesday, at least 104 Covid-19 positive cases were reported in Tamil Nadu, taking the total tally to 2,162 and death toll at 27. Of the 104 cases reported in the state on Wednesday, 94 are from Chennai. The capital city, with 767 cases, accounts for 35 per cent of the total number in the state. In comparison with Chennai, the other districts have reported 1,395 cases. A total of 1,210 patients were discharged following treatment across districts in Tamil Nadu.
The state’s recovery rate is 56 per cent and the mortality rate stands at 1.25 per cent. As of today, there are 922 active cases in Tamil Nadu and a total of 1,09,961 samples, 1,01,075 persons have been tested. At least 30,580 people are under active home quarantine and 48 are in Government Quarantine facilities. There are 44 Covid-19 testing facilities in the state (33 government and 11 private).
Rahul Gandhi video chats with Raghuram Rajan on COVID-19 situation
India should be “cleverer” in lifting the lockdown and should open up its economy in a “measured way” soon to save jobs, former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan said on Thursday, underlining that Rs 65,000 crore should be spent to support the poor amid the crisis.
In a first of its kind dialogue broadcast on Congress’ social media handles this morning, Rajan, who was in the US, deliberated on the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Read the top five Q&As from Rahul Gandhi’s video chat with Raghuram Rajan
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said the lockdown in the state would continue in some form or the other till a vaccine against Covid-19 is invented. Deb made the remarks after holding a four and a half hour-long all-party meeting on Wednesday night.
The meeting with eighteen political parties including ruling BJP, Congress, CPIM, ruling ally IPFT, INPT, among others started at 4 PM and continued till 8:30 PM. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, CM Deb said, “As of now, lockdown is there till May 3 and lockdown is the only way (against Covid-19). It is still a long way to exit lockdown in phased manner. It is impossible to resume inter-state bus, train or air services now. So, lockdown will remain. It is not that easy to exit lockdown. People have to accept lockdown as part of our lives”.
129 hotspots identified in India
The Health Ministry has identified 129 of the country’s 736 districts as hotspots. Curbs are expected to be eased in districts where cases are tapering. In a statement, the Ministry said, “New guidelines to fight COVID-19 will come into effect from 4th May, which shall give considerable relaxations to many districts. Details regarding this shall be communicated in coming days.”
An unintended consequence of the lockdown has been a fall in the number of deaths reported across India as a result of fewer crimes and a huge reduction in road fatalities. While country-wide data is not available, accounts of police officers and hospital emergency workers in certain states indicate the trend.
In Kerala, a top police officer confirmed that there has been a significant fall in the number of murders, suicides, unnatural deaths and road accidents in the state between March 25 and April 14, the period of the first phase of lockdown, as opposed to the same period last year.
Hospitals in metro cities like Bengaluru are also reporting a decline in trauma cases. In some states like Assam, police believe the lockdown has resembled a ‘curfew-like’ situation especially during the night hours, thus deterring criminals from engaging in crimes they normally would.
To ensure uninterrupted supply of goods, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Thursday made it clear that no separate passes were required for inter-state movement of trucks during the ongoing Covid-19 induced lockdown. It said a valid licence of the truck driver was required for ferrying goods between states.
Citing reports of truckers facing difficulties in passing through state borders, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla directed states to allow movement of all trucks and other goods carrier vehicles with two drivers and one helper. An empty truck or vehicle will be allowed to ply after the delivery of goods, or after pick up of goods, he added.
West Bengal is right now the state with the fastest-growing cases of the novel Coronavirus. The state has reported only 696 cases as of Wednesday evening, but both its doubling rate, as well as the reproduction number, are among the highest for any state with a significant number of cases. It means every 100 persons were infecting 152 others, as of now.
The growth rate of infections in West Bengal during the period April 23 to April 27 has been such that it would amount to a doubling of caseload every 7.13 days
Andhra Pradesh reports 71 new COVID-19 cases
Seventy-one fresh COVID-19 cases were reported in Andhra Pradesh in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 1,403, the government said on Thursday. The toll remained at 31 in the last six days while 34 more patients got cured and were discharged from hospitals in the last 24 hours, the latest COVID-19 bulletin said. In all, 321 patients have been discharged in the state so far. Kurnool district, the largest coronavirus hotbed in AP, reported 43 cases on Thursday, taking the aggregate to 386. Officials attributed the steady spurt in cases over the last few days in Kurnool district to “local transmission.”
According to Crisil Research, the ongoing economic disruption due to Covid-19 is likely to result in a permanent loss of 4% of gross domestic product for India. In other words, as time goes by, while the economy is likely to recover there will be a certain amount of economic activity that will not be recovered and this is estimated to be 4% of GDP.
Dharmakirti Joshi, Chief Economist at Crisil, said this is worse than the impact of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. As chart 2 shows, India was able to close down on the GDP gap substantially between FY09 and FY11.
Despite no clear indications from the Centre on easing lockdown restrictions after May 3, some flight carriers in India are undertaking several measures to minimise the touchpoints of human contact on board flights post the lockdown period.
Air carrier Vistara has announced temporary service alterations in domestic flights’ premium economy class and economy class, including reduction in meal choices and withdrawal of services like onboard sales, welcome drink, hot meals, beverages, and magazines. Starbucks coffee and Turkish towels will also not be served in business class and premium economy class, the airlines said in a statement.
GoAir has given special importance to cleaning procedures, using Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved, hospital-grade disinfectant in the lavatories and an interior cleaner in the cabin. They have now expanded the use of the hospital-grade disinfectant throughout the aircraft, and it will be used for deep cleaning the aircraft.
The Bombay High Court has said that “one incident” of gathering of about 2,000 migrant workers in Bandra “does not make out an urgency” and declined to pass urgent directions to the Maharashtra government, including producing reports regarding availability of armed forces in Mumbai to prevent such incidents in future.
A single-judge bench of Justice Burgess Colabawalla heard the petition by three residents of Bandra, Khar and Mahim, who claimed to be directly aggrieved by the incident, via videoconference on April 27 and disposed of their application for interim relief.
“One incident does not make out an urgency and the court is sure that the government and the civic authorities will do whatever is necessary to ensure that an incident like the one that took place at Bandra, Mumbai on April 14, 2020 will be avoided until the lock-down is effective,” Justice Colabawalla said.
When 30-year-old Mupparapu Raju was restricted to his home in Telangana’s Warangal Rural district, following the announcement of a nationwide lockdown to fight the spread of novel coronavirus, he decided to put this break to its best use and pursue his passion.
The result was a pedal-operated liquid soap and water dispenser machine, which has caught everyone’s attention in a matter of days.
In the last few weeks, Raju has built 10 such machines which are presently installed outside offices of district collectors, municipal corporation, municipality offices, and police checkpoints.
A 54-year-old resident of Gurgaon, whose wife had tested positive for Coronavirus last evening, committed suicide on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday by hanging himself from a ceiling fan at their home, the police said.
According to police, they received information about the matter at 8 am this morning. No suicide note was found at the scene.
“The deceased’s wife had been unwell for some time and was admitted at a private hospital in the city. She tested positive for Coronavirus last evening,” said Subhash Boken, PRO of Gurgaon Police.
Kerala seeks special non-stop trains to facilitate return of migrant workers
The Kerala government on Thursday renewed its demand for special non-stop trains to transport those who are keen to leave for their respective states.
State Chief Secretary has written a letter in this regard to the Union Home secretary, PTI reported Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan as saying.
There are 3.60 lakh workers in over 20,000 camps in the the state and majority of them, hailing from West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, wanted to return home,Vijayan said.
“There were so many people who wish to leave for their respective states. The distance they have to traverse from the southern state is very long it would be tiresome journey to transport them by bus and there was a possibility of the virus spreading”, Vijayan said.
“We are ready to die of starvation,” says Shivam Kumar, a migrant worker at a relief camp in Vadadora.
Kumar and several other workers from Uttar Pradesh lodged at the camp refused to have their meals on Thursday to register their protest. And they have only one demand: send them back to their homes.
Kumar (18), a native of Etawah in UP, had set off from Karjan in Vadodara along with nine others to their home state, when he was brought to this under construction building for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) by the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) on March 28 after the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed.
MP brings back over 20,000 stranded migrant workers
The Madhya Pradesh government on Thursday said it has brought back over 20,000 migrant labourers, who were stranded in other states due to the COVID-19 lockdown, PTI reported.
Additional chief secretary I C P Keshari, who is in-charge of the state control room, said at least 20,000 migrant labourers, who were stranded in other states, were brought back to Madhya Pradesh so far.
Labourers travelling in 200 buses from Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer, Nagaur, Jodhpur and Jaipur cities had reached Neemuch, Agar-Malwa, Sheopur and Guna entry points in Madhya Pradesh, he said.
Apart from this, at least 2,000 to 3,000 labourers were reaching the state borders on foot every day, he said, adding that 3,000 labourers from Rajasthan, who were stuck in Madhya Pradesh, have been sent back to their home state. Keshari went on to say that 30,000 labourers stranded in various districts of the state were sent back to their hometowns in the last five days.
J&K announces Rs Rs 350 crore relief package
Jammu and Kashmir Government on Thursday announced a Rs 350 cr relief package for over half a dozen categories of people adversely hit by continued lockdown in view of COVID-19 pandemic.
Pointing out that the relief package was approved by Administrative Council at a meeting chaired by Lt Governor G C Murmu the previous day, UT government’s spokesperson Rohit Kansal said that Rs 46.40 crore have been earmarked under the income support category so as to provide Rs 1,000 each per month to various classes of workers for three months.
It includes Rs 35.2 crore to 1.76 lakh construction workers, Rs 1.8 crore to 5,791 houseboat and shikarawalas registered with Tourism Department, Rs 8.1 crore to tourist guides, ponywalas, palkiwalas, pithuwalas numbering nearly 27,000 registered with Shri Mata Vaishnodevi and Shri Amarnath Shrine Boards and Tourism Development Authorities.
Walk-in sample collection kiosk for COVID-19 test developed by ITI in Odisha
In an effort to ensure safety of health workers in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak, state-run Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Cuttack has developed a portable walk-in kiosk for collecting samples from suspected coronavirus-infected persons, an official said on Thursday. Inspired by a similar initiative taken by medical staff in South Korea, a dedicated team of 4 skilled trainers of the institute started working on the project and developed the mobile sample collection unit, its principal Hrushikesh Mohanty said.
This will help health workers maintain social distancing norms while collecting samples from people, he said. The walk-in sample collection kiosk is a mobile cubicle with a sealed glass on its front side that protects the health personnel from getting infected with the virus while collecting the samples, he said.
Odisha reported 128 COVID-19 cases so far and a total 31,696 samples have been tested across the state, a health department official said.
First batch of 217 migrant workers return to Odisha
The first batch of 217 migrant workers, stranded in Gujarat’s Surat, returned to Odisha after undertaking a 60-hour-long journey, officials said on Thursday.
Four buses carrying the migrant workers, who hail from the Ganjam district, reached late on Wednesday night and were immediately quarantined at a facility, said collector Vijay Amruta Kulange.
The primary health screening of all the returnees have been done, he said.
The first batch of returnees are lodged in quarantine centres at Seragad and Dharakot, he said, adding that arrangement has been made for the collection of their swab samples for COVID-19 testing.
They cannot meet their family members during the stay in the quarantine centres, Kulange said.
UP CM asks officials to prepare action plan for return of migrant workers
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday asked officials to keep ready quarantine centres, shelter homes and community kitchens as the state prepares for the return of migrant workers stranded in different parts of the country due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown.
The chief minister’s office also put out the names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of nodal officers appointed by the state government for facilitating the return of the migrant workers.
“Maintain patience that you have shown till now. A detailed plan is being prepared after contacting states concerned to ensure that all return to their homes safely. Therefore, stay where you are and remain in contact with the respective state governments. Do not start moving on foot,” he said in a tweet.
An official spokesperson said the state government has written letters to different states seeking detailed data on migrant labourers and workers of UP along with their names, mobile numbers and addresses as well as medical reports.
Nine new cases of COVID-19, including seven from the sealed hotspot Bapu Dham colony, were reported in the UT on Wednesday, taking the tally up to 68 in the city.
Eighteen patients have been discharged so far. People with mild symptoms have been advised to practice home isolation.
The seven new cases from Bapu Dham Colony include four family members of a man from the colony who tested positive on Tuesday. Three new cases have been identified in Bapu Dham colony. Out of these, two are labourers residing in a single room with four other roommates. They also have 26 community contacts who live in the same building. All contacts are currently asymptomatic. The third patient is a plumber resides in a separate house with his family. He has three family contacts and 72 community contacts residing in the same building who have all been quarantined. There are now 23 active cases in the colony.
The Ministry of Railways has also drafted a plan to operate 400 special trains per day, which can be scaled up to 1,000, with a detailed protocol. While there has been no indication that passenger train services will resume before May 3, the Railways carried out an internal exercise and communicated the plan to top levels in the government. According to the plan, each non-AC train will carry 1,000 people per trip — about half the usual number — to ensure adequate social distancing.