India has 683 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which as many as 617 are active, according to data from the Health Ministry and State governments. The death toll stands at 17, with Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh recording their first COVID-19 deaths. Gujarat has reported its second death.
Among India's immediate neighbours, China has registered over 81,000 confirmed cases so far, according to the WHO. In Pakistan, over 900 confirmed cases and eight deaths have been registered.
The new 24/7 national helpline numbers are 1075 and 1800-112-545 and 011-23978046. Email: ncov2019-at-gmail.com. The Prime Minister has announced a WhatsApp helpdesk number: 9013151515.
Here are the latest updates:
The Central government has capped the price of 3-ply meltblown face masks at Rs. 16/piece till June 30.
Army looks at additional infrastructure for quarantine centres
The Army has started the process of identifying additional infrastructure for setting up quarantine centres in each station for its personnel to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, senior officials said on Thursday.
The force is also preparing a plan to sidestep medical personnel from lesser virus-affected areas to those severely affected by the outbreak, the officials noted.
Tamil Nadu CM orders banks to stop collecting interest
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami orders private banks/small finance institutions and SHGs to stop collecting daily/weekly/monthly interest from parties until further orders. Criminal action will be initiated against violators.
Odisha plans biggest COVID-19 hospitals in the country
The Odisha government has planned to set up the biggest COVID-19 hospitals in the country. Tripartite agreements have been signed between the State, corporates and two medical colleges in Bhubaneswar - SUM and KIIMS Medical Colleges - to set up State-level hospitals with a capacity of 1,000 beds for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Rate of increase in cases has slowed: Health Ministry
Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, in a press briefing says any person who doesn't support the Centre in social distancing and lockdown would make the government's efforts infructuous. "We request those who have come from abroad to follow quarantining," he adds. There's a containment strategy being followed aggressively.
The cases are increasing, but the rate of increase has slowed. However, nothing can be taken for granted yet. The Cabinet secretary had a meeting with chief secretaries of States on preparedness. Online training has been initiated across country for doctors with AIIMS. Behavioural health modules have been introduced with NIMHANS to educate people about mental health, along with training and orientation for Asha health care workers, says Mr. Agarwal.
Essential good and services, health services should be unrestricted, says a health ministry official.
There are special charters for the northeast regions for supplying medicines. We implore people to stay where they are and avail required care locally.
Rejecting a claim made by actor Amitabh Bachchan recently that houseflies can spread the COVID-19, the official says that the disease is an infectious disease and doesn't spread through flies.
As many as 64,411 people are under suveillance, he adds.
All patients with SARI (severe pulmonary) can be tested, says an ICMR official. However, all healthcare workers need not be tested.
We are not seeing any unusual mortality among the elderly, says the ICMR, adding that nonetheless the elderly are more vulnerable.
A meeting of a GoM (Group of Ministers) is on to take further decisions regarding travel.
There is no evidence yet of community transmission. If we are unable to trace the contact history of one or two positive patients, it's not an instance of community transmission, says the ICMR official.
"Only when it is happening in large numbers and we are unable to verify it, we will let you know. In fact that might necessitate further steps," he adds.
'Media should not report isolated incidents'
Media should not report isolated instances of untraceable contacts as it could spread fear, says Raman Gangakhedkar, chief scientist at ICMR.
As many as 25 private labs are providing testing services. They have nearly 20,000 collection centres. However, testing has not been expanded majorly as several have not got their tests yet.
If we implement the steps that we have imposed, then all the modelling that predict lakhs and millions of cases in India will be proved wrong. We should all strive for that, says Mr. Agarwal.
Three more test positive in Telangana
Three more COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Telangana till Thursday afternoon, including a doctor couple from Domalguda in the city. Till now, the total number of cases in the State stands at 44, including one person who was discharged.
The test result of suspected COVID-19 patient from Bettiah in West Champaran of Bihar who died today has come negative, RMRI director Dr. Pradeep Kumar Das in Patna told The Hindu.
Christian Michel moves Delhi HC
Christian Michel James, alleged middleman arrested in connection with the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, moved the Delhi High Court on Thursday seeking interim bail citing risk of contracting COVID-19 in Tihar Jail, where he is currently lodged.
One more patient has tested positive in Nagpur. With this, the total number of positive cases in Maharashtra touched 125.
Rajasthan reports two new cases
Two new COVID-19 positive cases have been detected in Rajasthan. One is a 45-year-old man from Jaipur, and the other a 35-year-old man from Jhunjhunu. Both have travel history to the Middle East. The total number of confirmed patients in Rajasthan is now 40.
Meanwhile, a 73-year-old man died in Bhilwara today. He was admitted in a state of coma from March 3 to 11 at a private hospital where some doctors were later found COVID-19 positive. Rajasthan Health Department says the man has died in coma because of kidney failure and brain stroke, and not due to COVID-19.
Apollo Hospitals launches Project Kavach to tackle COVID-19
Apollo Hospitals has launched Project Kavach, a comprehensive approach to tackle COVID-19. This includes online self assessment for risk, testing, preventive measures, isolation rooms, engaging with and managing the patient.
Group Chairman Prathap C. Reddy in a virtual press conference said the healthcare chain will launch its first set of isolation rooms with medical supervision on Saturday.
They have idenfied 250 beds across India for COVID-19 patients, which can be scaled up.
Around 1,100 people in contact with COVID-19-infected doctor asked to home quarantine
Around 1,100 people came into contact with a 49-year-old male doctor (case 28) and we are asking them to home quarantine themselves for 14 days, said a Delhi health department official. So far the administration has reached out to more than 900 of them, the official said.
Most of them are the doctor's patients.
"Also, 1,400 people, came into contact with case 10, and we are asking all of them also to home quarantine for 14 days. Most of them are from 500 houses in her area," the official told The Hindu.
Case 10 is a 38-year-old woman, who travelled to India from the Saudi Arabia.
Eight people, including the doctor (case 28), who have been primary or secondary contacts of case 10, have tested positive for COVID-19 so far, according to officials.
Petrol pumps to remain open on alternate days in Nagaland, groceries for 4 hours daily
The Nagaland government on Thursday announced that petrol pumps across the State will remain open on alternate days. The State government has issued a directive to grocery shop owners to keep their shops open from 10 am to 2 pm daily.
No positive coronavirus case has been reported in the State yet.
Bihar to provide Rs. 100 crore from CM's relief fund to the State Disaster Management
The Bihar government has provided Rs. 100 crore from Chief Minister's relief fund to the State Disaster Management department to make arrangement of stay and food to all those from Bihar who are stuck at different place, either in the State or outside due to lockdown.
A senior Delhi police officer has been qurantined. His daughter had recently returned from foreign country, said a police source.
SSLC exams to begin only after April 20
The SSLC exams, which were scheduled to begin from March 27 and were postponed, will now be conducted only after April 20.
The Department of Primary and Secondary Education has issued an order stating that fresh dates will be announced only after April 20. Furthermore, even the exams for class 7 to 9 have been postponed and will be conducted after April 20. The department has said that the examinations were earlier scheduled be conducted after March 31, but the lockdown has forced further postponement.
Scientists identify 69 effective drugs for treatment
An international team, including some Indian scientists, has identified 69 drugs and experimental compounds which may be effective in treating COVD-19.
According to the researchers, some of the medications are already used to treat diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, and repurposing them to treat COVID-19 may be faster than trying to invent a new vaccine.
No more retail sales in Mangaluru central market
The Dakshina Kannada district administration has decided to suspend retail sales inside the Mangaluru central market.
Taking into account the surge of coronavirus cases in the neighbouring district, the public will not be allowed inside the market from Thursday, an official release said.
Establishments providing essential services can be open 24/7: Delhi LG
Delhi LG Anil Baijal said that establishments providing essential services and products will be allowed to stay open 24/7.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that he as asked all police officers and district in-charges to ensure that all shops and stores dealing in essential items are fully-stocked. He added that they have also been instructed to ensure that units manufacturing such items are operational.
Dismissing rumours that all mohalla clinics will be shut after a doctor in one particular clinic was tested COVID-19 positive, Mr. Kejriwal said that the clinics will remain open.
Nodal officer appointed in Kazakhstan to help stranded Indian students
The Indian mission in Kazakhstan has appointed a nodal officer to help around 200 students who are stuck in the country after India suspended all international flights to fight theCOVID-19crisis. The decision came hours after theDelhi High Court directed the Ministry of External Affairs(MEA) to provide assistance to the Indian nationals.
In a public notice, the Embassy of India in Nur Sultan declared Martin Cyriac Clemense, the Officer-in-Charge of Representative Office of India in Almaty, as the nodal person for ensuring the immediate necessities of the students, including boarding, lodging, food, medicine etc.
Filipino shares his experiences as coronavirus survivor
When Carlo Navarro, his wife and 15-year-old daughter visited Japan from the Philippines in February, they knew they were taking a chance with the coronavirus, but thought they would be spared if they took precautions. They wore masks and gloves and always had alcohol handy to sanitize their hands.
But Mr. Navarro, a 48-year-old tax lawyer, began showing symptoms after they returned home. He was the fourth case in the Philippines, but the first Filipino to be confirmed withthe disease.
Madhya Pradesh registers 20 confirmed cases
The number of COVID-19 cases in Madhya Pradesh rose to 20 with five more patients in Indore hospitals testing coronavirus positive, health officials said on Thursday.
The tally includes a Ujjain-based woman, who died on Wednesday in Indore, the officials said.
Among the five new cases in Indore, two are women, said a government medical college spokesperson.
Three new coronavirus cases takes Chhattisgarh tally to six
Three more persons, including a woman, have tested positive forcoronavirusin Chhattisgarh, taking the total number of confirmed cases in the state to six, officials said on Thursday.
One of the cases was reported from the State capital Raipur, and one each from Durg and Bilaspur, they said.
Strict enforcement of lockdown
One more tests positive West Bengal, total cases at 10
One more person tested positive for COVID-19 in West Bengal on March 26, taking the number of cases with the viral infection to 10.
The 66- year-old resident of Nayabad in south Kolkata, who tested positive is admitted at a private health facility in the city. The patients samples were tested positive at the State-run SSKM Hospital, another testing facility in the State.
Pathways at Koyambedu market cleared of clutter to promote social distancing
The COVID-19 situation has brought about many changes in the functioning of the Koyambedu market changes in operational hours and even short closures for cleaning operations are only to be expected. Significantly, the crisis seems to have also led to the resolution of one long-pending issue cluttered pathways.
On all the three sections, dedicated to the sale of three categories of perishable items: flowers, fruits and vegetables, at the Koyambedu Wholesale Market complex, pathways have been freed of clutter and made wider so that visitors, who are mostly small traders, can practise a form of social distancing.
ICMR invites quotations from manufacturers for COVID-19 test kits
In an urgent move towards expanding theCOVID-19diagnostics in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has invited quotations from manufacturers for supply of kits for testing.
According to the apex health research body, it will procure seven lakh US FDA-EUA/CE-IVD/ICMR-NIV Pune-approved RNA extraction kits.
Any manufacturer with an Indian-based supplier can submit quotations by Thursday 2.30 pm, the ICMR said.
Three dead in Gujarat; 43 confirmed cases so far
Gujarat registered its third COVID-19 death after a 70-year-old man died of COVID-19 infection in Bhavnagar on Thursday morning. The other two deaths were reported from Surat and Ahmedabad.
The total number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Gujarat jumped to 43 on Thursday. The State department said that the maximum number of cases have been detected in Ahmedabad, where 17 COVID-19 positive cases have been observed.
Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Modi in support of lockdown
Congress president Sonia Gandhi writes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing her and the Congress party's support for the 21-day lockdown.
"At this challenging and uncertain time, it is imperative for each one of us to rise above partisan interests and honour our duty towards our country and indeed, towards humanity," Ms. Gandhi writes in a four-page letter, along with suggestions for different sectors.
Junior doctors at special hospital for COVID-19 in Bihar want to go on home quarantine
Cocking a snook at the Bihar governments preparedness for COVID-19, as many as 83 junior doctors at Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH), which has been designated as the States first special hospital, have written to their superintendent seeking 15-day home quarantine as many of them have developed symptoms of the viral disease in the absence of protective kits and masks.
Their petition has been forwarded to the Principal State Health Secretary Sanjay Kumar for further direction.
U.S. Senate unanimously passes $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue package
The U.S. Senate late Wednesday passed an unparalleled $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and health care systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The unanimous vote came despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough and capped days of difficult negotiations as Washington confronted a national challenge unlike it has ever faced.
Death toll due to COVID-19 rises to 13 in India, and the number of confirmed cases is 649, says Health Ministry.
COVID-19 death toll in Maharashtra touches 4
The test report of a woman who died on March 24 turned out positive for coronavirus on Thursday, taking the COVID-19 death toll in Maharashtra to four.
The woman, who hailed from Navi Mumbai, had symptoms similar to the coronavirus infection. Thus, as a precautionary measure, her samples were taken and sent for testing.
The test came out positive this morning. We are now taking the necessary precautions for her relatives as well, an health official told PTI.
West Bengal detects 10th case
An elderly man has been tested positive for COVID-19 in West Bengal, the tenth case of the deadly viral disease in the State.
The 66-year-old from Nayabad in Kolkata had no history of travelling abroad or outside the State.
He is undergoing treatment in the isolation ward of a private hospital and his family kept in home isolation under police protection.
Under lockdown, Manipur running out of essential commodities
Prices of all essential commodities have been hiked unreasonably in Manipur which is under a lockdown to check the spread ofCOVID-19. Some media reports quoted people as saying that rice and flour were not available. Some grocery shops which used to sell these items through the backdoor, in view of the curfew restrictions, have closed down as stocks had run out. The governments announcement that PDS rice for April will be distributed free of cost by March is yet to be translated into reality.
Soon afterindefinite curfew was clamped, Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh said: The curfew will be in force for some time and people should stay indoors. There will be no shortage of essential items. While inter-State bus services are suspended trucks transporting essential items will not be obstructed. People should also stop panic buying since there shall be no shortage. However, ground realities are worrisome.
Kashmir reports first death
A 65-year-old man hailing from the Hyderpora area of the city died on Thursday, becoming the first fatality in Jammu and Kashmir due to coronavirus.
"As we share the sad news of our first #Covid19 fatality, my heart goes out to the family of the deceased. We stand with you and share your grief," Mayor of Srinagar Junaid Azim Mattu tweeted.
Government spokesperson Rohit Kansal also confirmed the death via Twitter.
In Spains capital, ice rink turned into makeshift mortuary as number of cases soar
The capital's Palacio de Hielo mall, home to an Olympic-sized ice rink, began operating as a makeshift mortuary after authorities said facilities were unable to cope.
Thousands of migrant workers leave on foot or motorcycles
Facing lockdown and no work, major cities of Gujarat, including Surat, Ahmedabad and Vadodara, are witnessing an exodus of migrant workers leaving in the thousands, either walking or on motorbikes, with a complete shutdown of transportation services.
Local officials said over 5,000 motorcycles have left Surat. Migrant workers from diamond and other sectors are leaving on motorbikes because factories are shut, a senior official from Surat said.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan announces advance pension, home delivery of medicines
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday announced that all Below Poverty Line (BPL) families would be provided a months ration free, in view of the lockdown. Mr. Chouhan further said 1,000 would be provided to labourers as support through the State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board.
NRDF puts 84 response teams on standby
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will be part of the control rooms being opened in the States, at the order of the Union Home Ministry, to oversee the 21-day lockdown. Each of the 12 NDRF battalions has been divided into 84 response teams that have been put on standby. All the battalions are on a high alert and ready to respond to any emergency. The situation is being monitored round the clock..., said an official. In Delhi, four teams had been deployed.
Amarinder Singh urges steps to evacuate pilgrims
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has urged the Central and Maharashtra governments to evacuate pilgrims stranded at the gurdwara at Nanded in Maharashtra amid the lockdown to fight the coronavirus.
In a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Captain Amarinder Singh said around 2,000 pilgrims from Punjab who had gone to the Hazur Sahib in Nanded. Hazur Sahib is one of the five spiritual and temporal centres of Sikhism.
370 foreign tourists evacuated
Three hundred and seventy foreign tourists from the U.K. and Russia, who came to Goa for holidaying but were left stranded owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, were flown out in two special relief flights on Wednesday.
The relief flights approved by the Indian government saw 249 tourists fly to Manchester, while another 121 left for Moscow. Goa Airport Director Gagan Malik said despite all odds and skeletal staff on duty, the relief flights to Manchester and Moscow were handled well.
We will celebrate Gudi Padwa once we tackle this crisis: CM
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday refrained from making any negative comments about the Centre even as he acknowledged the panic buying spree in the State after Prime Minister Narendra Modis speech on Tuesday announcing the 21-day nationwide lockdown.
7,990 under quarantine in Kannur
The number of people under quarantine in homes and hospitals for COVID-19 reached 7,990 in Kannur district on Wednesday.
According to the District Health Department, 81 persons are under observation in hospitals. Currently, 41 persons are in Kannur Government Medical College, 26 persons are in the District Hospital and 14 in the Thalassery General Hospital. So far, 240 samples from the district have been sent for testing, of which 149 have tested negative. Results for 86 cases are yet to be received.
Indian among 100 patients
An Indian is among the nearly 100 COVID-19 positive patients undergoing treatment in Sri Lanka, The Hindu has learnt. Three other patients, who are Sri Lankan nationals, also tested positive on their return from India earlier this month, officials said.