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591 new cases and 20 deaths in the past 24 hours; total number of infections 5,865

Centre sanctions Rs 15,000 cr to states to fight Covid-19

By PTI
  • Published 9.04.20, 8:13 PM
  • Updated 9.04.20, 9:16 PM
  • 9 mins read
  •  
A family wearing face masks walk along a road during the nationwide lockdown, imposed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, at Worli in Mumbai, Thursday, April 9, 2020. PTI

The death toll due to the novel coronavirus rose to 169 and the number of cases climbed to 5,865 in the country on Thursday, registering an increase of 591 cases and 20 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry.

While the number of active Covid-19 cases is 5,218, as many as 477 people have been cured and discharged and one has migrated, the ministry said.

Of the 20 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, eight were from Maharashtra, three each from Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, two from Jammu and Kashmir and one each from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Maharashtra has reported the highest number of Covid-19 deaths at 72, followed by Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh with each recording 16 deaths and Delhi at nine. Punjab and Tamil Nadu have reported eight fatalities each while Telangana has recorded seven deaths.

West Bengal and Karnataka have registered five deaths each. Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh have reported four deaths each, while Haryana and Rajasthan have recorded three deaths each.

Two deaths have been reported from Kerala, while Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha have recorded one fatality each, according to the health ministry data.

The total number of cases (5,865) includes 71 foreign nationals.

The death toll in the country due to Covid-19 was 149 on Wednesday.

However, a PTI tally of the figures reported by various states as on Thursday evening showed at least 196 deaths due to the deadly virus.

There is a lag in the Union Health Ministry figures, as compared to the number of deaths announced by different states, which officials attribute to the procedural delay in assigning the cases to individual states.

According to the ministry's data, the highest number of confirmed cases in the country is from Maharashtra at 1,135, followed by Tamil Nadu at 738 and Delhi with 669 cases.

The number of cases has risen to 442 in Telangana, while Uttar Pradesh has 410 cases and Rajasthan 383. Andhra Pradesh has reported 348 cases, while Kerala has 345 Covid-19 patients.

The number of coronavirus cases has risen to 259 in Madhya Pradesh, 181 in Karnataka, 179 in Gujarat and 169 in Haryana.

Jammu and Kashmir has 158 cases, West Bengal 103 and Punjab has 101 Covid-19 patients.

Odisha has reported 42 coronavirus cases, 39 people have been infected with the virus in Bihar, while Uttarakhand has 35 Covid-19 patients and Assam 28.

Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh have 18 cases each, while Ladakh has 14 and Jharkhand 13.

Eleven cases have been reported from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, while Chhattisgarh has registered 10 cases.

Goa has reported seven Covid-19 cases, Puducherry five, Manipur two while Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have reported a case each.

"State-wise distribution is subject to further verification and reconciliation," the ministry said on its website.

NGO members distribute food to needy people during the nationwide lockdown, imposed in wake of the coronavirus outbreak, in Surat, Thursday, April 9, 2020.
NGO members distribute food to needy people during the nationwide lockdown, imposed in wake of the coronavirus outbreak, in Surat, Thursday, April 9, 2020. PTI

Government sanctions Rs 15,000 crore package for states

The Centre on Thursday sanctioned Rs 15,000 crore to the states to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Out of the total corpus, Rs 7, 774 crore will be utilised for Covid-19 emergency response and rest for medium-term support (1-4years) to be provided under mission mode approach.

The focus areas will be: development of diagnostics, covid-19 dedicated treatment facilities, centralised procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs required for treatment of infected patients, strengthen and build resilient national and state health systems to support prevention and preparedness for future disease outbreaks.

The centre has constituted 10 high-level multi-disciplinary central teams to help states from where high number of cases is being reported. The teams have been rushed to Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh, to aid them in containment preparedness, hospital preparedness and ventilator management.

Along with other central government ministries, the railway ministry has also pitched in by offering to convert 5000 coaches into isolation facilities that would give 80,000 additional beds. Of the 5000 coaches, 3250 coaches have been already converted into isolation facilities. “Apart from that the railways has earmarked and deployed at least 2,500 doctors, 35,000 paramedics, 586 health units, 45 sub-divisional hospitals, 56 divisional hospitals, 8 production unit hospitals and 16 zonal hospitals,” said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, health ministry.

India is currently under a three-week nationwide lockdown till April 14 to stem the spread of the infection.

India’s economic recovery has been sharply altered by the coronavirus outbreak.

“Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, the outlook for growth for 2020-21 was looking up. The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically altered this outlook. The global economy is expected to slump into recession in 2020, as post-Covid projections indicate,” the RBI said.

ITI, DRDO to sign pact for producing portable ventilators

Electronics manufacturing company ITI Limited and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are set to sign an agreement for the manufacturing of portable ventilators, a top official of the public sector firm said on Thursday.

The company expects to start production of the ventilators in about two-and-a-half months from the date of signing of the memorandum of understanding and technology transfer of the ventilator technology to it from the DRDO.

"We are going to sign a memorandum of understanding with DRDO in the next 2-3 days for the transfer of technology for portable ventilators. We will get 80-90 per cent components locally and the rest will have to be imported. We expect to start manufacturing ventilators in the Bengaluru plant in two-and-a-half months from the date of technology transfer," ITI Chairman and Managing Director RM Agarwal told PTI.

He said that the cost of ventilators will depend on the size of the order that the PSU will get. "The cost of ventilators that we will produce will be lower than units of the same quality. Being a PSU, we will not charge high margins. The final cost cannot be estimated at present because the cost of components for low volume production will be high and less for high volume production. Once DRDO transfers technology, we will start working on material cost and orders," Agarwal said. India might need anywhere between 110,000-220,000 ventilators by May 15 in the worst-case scenario if coronavirus infection continues to spread. The number of ventilators available in the country is a maximum of 57,000 at present and come with a cost of Rs 5-15 lakh, according to a Brookings report. Agarwal said that the portable ventilator will cost less than the ICU ventilators and the DRDO technology can be used for catering needs of armed forces in future. He said that ITI can expand manufacturing of portable ventilators at three other locations -Mankapur and Rae Bareily in Uttar Pradesh and Palakkad in Kerala.

Southern Naval Command undertook medical evacuation trial in order to prepare for contingency requiring transfer personnel from Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, who may require medical assistance and for ships at sea during the COVID-19 outbreak, in Lakshadweep, Wednesday, April 8, 2020.
Southern Naval Command undertook medical evacuation trial in order to prepare for contingency requiring transfer personnel from Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, who may require medical assistance and for ships at sea during the COVID-19 outbreak, in Lakshadweep, Wednesday, April 8, 2020. PTI

Covid-19 to hurt IT services sector, growth may fall to 3-5% in FY21: ICRA

Indian IT services industry is expected to see an adverse impact for a short-term due to COVID-19 outbreak with the sector clocking a lower growth of 3-5 per cent in current financial year, according to ratings agency ICRA.

ICRA previously expected the sector to grow at 6-8 per cent.

With the slowdown in growth during the first half of 2020-21, the margins will also be negatively impacted before a likely recovery in next the financial year, ICRA said in a statement.

However, the credit outlook for Indian IT companies remains stable led by healthy free cash flows cushioning short-term disruptions with significant liquidity in the form of surplus investments generated out of past cash flows, it added.

"The global spread of the coronavirus is resulting in simultaneous supply and demand shocks. We expect these shocks to materially slow down the economic activity," ICRA Vice President Gaurav Jain said.

He cited data from Moody's Investor Services to say that the US and the Euro zone - which generates more than 80 per cent of IT services export revenues - will see their GDP growth fall from 2.3 per cent and 1.2 per cent in calendar year 2019 (estimate) to 1.5 per cent and 0.7 per cent, respectively, in 2020.

"The (ICRA) forecast assumes gradual recovery during the second half of the year, however, the evolution of virus remains highly uncertain and the full extent of the economic costs remains unclear at this point of time," he added.

ICRA said on the demand side, developed economies that contribute to majority of the revenues will see delayed off-take of scheduled new projects, reduced discretionary spend as well as overall lower spend owing to sluggish economic growth.

ICRA said the BFSI vertical (which accounts for 30 per cent of the sector's revenues) is already seeing weakness across the US and Europe and will be further impacted, primarily owing to short-term impact of coronavirus on economic growth, lower credit off-take and other banking services.

Govt to allow Atal Pension subscribers for partial withdrawal from PF fund: PFRDA

The government is planning to allow subscribers of the Atal Pension Yojana (APY) for a partial withdrawal from employees' contribution as the current lockdown to battle Covid-19 has crippled the monetary power of workers in the unorganised sector.

The government circular would be out in a day or two for adding Covid-19 as one of the conditions for partial withdrawal from pension fund by APY susbscribers, Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority of India (PFRDA) Chairman Supratim Bandyopadhyay told PTI.

"In our regulation, we already have an enabling provision of partial withdrawal for specific purposes such as life threatening kind of emergency, or some kind of critical illness and the likes. There we have done a classification that it should include Covid-19 also," Bandyopadhyay said.

He said PFRDA has requested the finance ministry for enabling this provision.

"May be today or tomorrow this circular will be out," said the chairman of the pension fund regulatory body.

He said as in case of other contingencies of partial withdrawal, the limit of withdrawal has been kept same at 25 per cent of the fund accrued of employee's contribution of the pension amount.

As on March 31, 2019, the number of APY subscribers was 2.11 crore. The total number of subscribers under APY and NPS stood at 3.47 crore.

PFRDA runs two flagship pension schemes -- APY and NPS (National Pension System).

While the NPS caters to the central and state governments alongside autonomous bodies as well as individual taxpayers, APY is largely targeted for workers in the unorganised sector.

India's majority workforce is employed with this sector which is facing hardship due to the lockdown.

Railway Protection Force officials distribute free food to needy people during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown, as a preventive measure against the coronavirus pandemic, at Dadar in Mumbai, Thursday, April 9, 2020.
Railway Protection Force officials distribute free food to needy people during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown, as a preventive measure against the coronavirus pandemic, at Dadar in Mumbai, Thursday, April 9, 2020. PTI

Don't mention Nizamuddin Markaz in bulletins on Covid-19: Delhi Minorities Commission to health dept

The Delhi Minorities Commission (DMC) has asked the city's health department to stop mentioning Nizamuddin Markaz in its daily bulletins on coronavirus cases.

In a letter to the secretary, Delhi Health department, chairman of the Commission Zafarul Islam Khan asked the department to drop any mention of "religious undertones" in its daily bulletins.

The daily bulletins update the number of fresh coronavirus cases and deaths due to the epidemic including figures of those who were evacuated from Tablighi Jamat Markaz after they were stranded there due to lockdown.

As per the last updated bulletin on Wednesday, the total number of coronavirus cases in Delhi were 669 including 426 from the Markaz.

"Such thoughtless classification is feeding into the Islamophobia agenda of the media and Hindutva forces and has been easily turned into a handle to attack Muslims across the country," Khan alleged in his letter.

Muslims are being "attacked" in various areas, calls are being made for their "social boycott", and a boy was "lynched" in the northwest Delhi, he mentioned in his letter.

The World Health Organisation(WHO) has taken cognizance of this phenomenon and its Emergency Programme Director Mike Ryan has said countries should not profile novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in terms of religion or any other criteria, stated the letter.

The Union health ministry too has said that despite all precautions, if anybody catches the infection, it is not their fault.

Its advisory has requested citizens to "never spread names or identity" of those affected or under quarantine in their locality on the social media, Khan said in the letter. The letter requested to the Health department to stop mention of any data which has religious undertones and which can be exploited for political or communal purposes by "vested interests".

Telecom industry rejects Trai's call to provide talktime credit and extended validity for prepaid users

Telecom industry has rejected Trai's call to provide talktime credit and extended validity to all prepaid mobile phone users, saying telcos had offered benefits worth over Rs 600 crore to low-income subscribers to stay connected during the lockdown, and extending it to all pre-paid customers was unjustified.

The response from COAI, whose members include Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, comes just days after Trai pulled up telcos on selective approach in extending validity and giving talktime credit.

The sector regulator had insisted that uninterrupted services need to be ensured for all prepaid subscribers amid the ongiong lockdown.

COAI said that in case Trai and the government still feel the need for extension of benefits to all prepaid feature phone subscribers, this should be provided in the form of a subsidy to the telecom sector like many other essential services.

"This could be adequately compensated from the USO Fund where more than Rs 51,500 crore is being lying unutilised as on March 31, 2020," COAI said in a letter to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Thursday.

The industry association said despite the financial stress being faced by the sector, requisite measures have been taken by telecom operators to support low-income users who are at the bottom of the pyramid and are not in a position to recharge their prepaid services.

Operators have offered extended validity for continuation services and talktime benefits to ensure that essential calls can be made by those who genuinely need help to stay connected.

The expectation of extending benefits to all prepaid users, even those who have the means to recharge, is not appropriate, it said.

Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel conduct a flag march during the lockdown imposed in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, in Moradabad, Thursday, April 9, 2020.
Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel conduct a flag march during the lockdown imposed in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, in Moradabad, Thursday, April 9, 2020. PTI

Radio listenership increases by 23 per cent : Study

In a bid to beat the lockdown boredom, more and more people are tuning in to radio for information and entertainment with a latest study saying that the time spent on the audio medium has increased by 23 per cent to 2.36 hours everyday, second only to television.

The study, commissioned by the Association of Radio Operators for India (AROI), also said radio industry has witnessed a listenership of 51 million people, which is nearly as much as television''s reach of 56 million and social media''s reach of 57 million.

India is under a 21-day nationwide lockdown since March 25 to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Radio has always been a constant companion to everyone, both in good and tough times. It is one medium that has a pan-India reach right from the grassroot level to the metros," AROI said in a statement.

According to the study done by the AZ Research across a sample size of 3,300 people, 82 per cent people have been tuning in to radio during Covid-19, with FM channels emerging as the second most credible source of information for the masses.

As per the research, radio has a credibility score of 6.27, second only to the internet which is at 6.44, while TV has a score of 5.74.

Radio's at home listenership has jumped by 22 per cent to 86 per cent from 64 per cent.

"The time that people spend listening to radio has increased by 23 per cent to 2.36 hours everyday during the lockdown, second only to television," the study said.