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With 600 new infections since Friday, India registers 2,784 active cases, 75 deaths

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired a meeting of the various empowered groups set up to respond to the coronavirus threat

By PTI
  • Published 4.04.20, 11:23 AM
  • Updated 4.04.20, 9:18 PM
  • 11 mins read
  •  
Impoverished Indians rest by their shanties at Dharavi, one of Asia's largest slums, during lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in Mumbai, India, Friday, April 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

The number of novel coronavirus cases crossed the 3,000-mark on Saturday after 525 fresh infections, the highest in a 24-hour span, were reported across the country, while 13 new fatalities took the death toll to 75, the Union Health Ministry said.

The number of active COVID-19 cases stands at 2,784, while 212 people were either cured or discharged and one had migrated. The death toll rose to 75 after 13 fatalities were reported in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 3,072, including 57 foreign nationals, according to the ministry data. 

The number of COVID-19 deaths inched towards 100 on Saturday along with a significant increase in the number of confirmed infections, but the government assured there was no need to panic as the rate of spread was less than in many other countries and just "one place" accounted for 30 per cent of detected cases.

The Health Ministry said the testing capacity has been ramped up significantly to over 10,000 tests per day to detect the deadly coronavirus infection, as it emphasised on continuous compliance to lockdown and social distancing measures, along with personal and environmental hygiene, to win this "daily battle".

Officials said at least 1,023 confirmed cases of infection have been found to be linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in the national capital last month, but massive efforts by various authorities have led to nearly 22,000 people linked to the religious grouping and their primary contacts getting quarantined.

The Tablighi-linked infections, found across 17 states, including Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, showed that almost 30 per cent of them are from "one particular place where we could not sort of understand it and manage it", Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said.

The data shared by Agarwal and other government officials in their daily press briefing showed that an average of one in 25 people tested for the infection have found to be a positive case, while the mortality rate among those testing positive appeared even less at one in 30.

Increased testing and and rise in figures

Officials said about 75,000 tests have been conducted so far, with the number of daily tests doubling to more than 10,000 from about 5,000 a few days ago. While the number of government labs has increased to over 100, several private labs have also been roped in, Agarwal said.

Globally, more than 11 lakh people have tested positive so far since the outbreak of this deadly virus in December last, which has left nearly 60,000 dead. The US alone has seen over 2.7 lakh confirmed cases while it recorded nearly 1,500 deaths within 24 hours between Thursday and Friday. Italy has recorded the maximum deaths at nearly 15,000.

Agarwal said a total of 2,902 COVID-19 cases have been reported so far in India, with an increase of 601 in last 24 hours -- the highest for such a period -- with at least 58 of them in critical condition in Kerala, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh. In the same time span, 12 more have died taking the nationwide toll to 68, Agarwal said.

However, according to a PTI tally of figures reported by states directly showed at least 94 deaths across the country while the number of confirmed cases of infection had crossed 3,250 as on Saturday late afternoon.

Of them more than 200 have been cured and discharged.

Maharashtra reported a sharp increase in the number of cases to 537, while Rajasthan, Assam, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat also reported rise in infections since Friday night, while more deaths were reported from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Karnataka.

Agarwal said the rate of doubling of cases is still very low in India, compared to many other countries, but it must be kept in mind that the country is dealing with a communicable disease and fighting a daily battle.

"We may be successful today, but may not be so tomorrow and to win this battle we need support of everyone including the public," he said, while emphasising the need for continuously following the lockdown and social distancing measures, as also personal and environmental hygiene.

"We are as strong as the weakest link in this chain and we can win this battle only with support of everyone," he said.

Sharing the age-group analysis of COVID-19 patients, Agarwal said the maximum 42 per cent are of 21-40 years, 33 per cent of 41-60 years, 17 per cent are above 60 years and 9 per cent are of 0-20 years.

The elderly people and those with other medical complications are said to be at higher risk in this pandemic. In Delhi also, five of the six COVID-19 patients who have died were above 60.

At the briefing, government officials said the lockdown is being effectively implemented across the country while supply of essential goods is also going on well, as they expressed confidence we all together will be "successful in breaking the COVID-19 chain".

The officials also asked people to refrain from using alcohol-based hand sanitisers while lighting lamps on Sunday night, for which Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made an appeal to show solidarity in the fight against COVID-19. They also said that apprehensions about a possible grid collapse due to collecting switching off of lights at that time was misplaced.

On the recent advisory about use of home-made face covers, the Health Ministry officials said it was only for conveying the message of personal hygiene measures.

Among various states, Uttar Pradesh reported a significant increase in the number of coronavirus cases to 227, including 94 cases linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi last month.

Of these, 21 have fully recovered while others are undergoing treatment at hospitals, Principal Secretary (Medical and Health) Amit Mohan Prasad said. Two have died in the state so far.

Modi and Trump have telephonic conversation on fight against COVID-19

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump on Saturday held a detailed discussion on the situation arising out of the coronavirus outbreak and resolved to deploy the full strength of the India-US partnership to fight the pandemic.

The two leaders held an "extensive" telephonic conversation.

"We had a good discussion, and agreed to deploy the full strength of the India-US partnership to fight COVID-19," Modi tweeted.

The discussion comes at a time when both countries are in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US has so far confirmed 278,458 cases of COVID-19 and more than 7,100 deaths. India has 3,072 coronavirus cases and has reported 75 deaths.

POSOCO says there won't be any problem during April 5 lights off

The Power System Operation Corporation (POSOCO) CMD KVS Baba on Saturday assured that there will not be any problem during the blackout tomorrow, saying all the states have drawn plans to tackle the situation.

Baba held a video conference with electricity facilitators across India to deal with the nine-minute blackout at 9 pm tomorrow, when the power demand is expected to fluctuate, posing threat to electricity grids.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked citizens to switch off lights for nine minutes at 9 pm on Sunday and light candles and torches to "challenge the darkness of the coronavirus crisis that has forced a three-week country-wide lockdown.

We discussed the ways how to reduce power production when the electricity demand dips and increase when the energy demands rises, Babab said.

Of course, the demand will dip during the blackout and will jump thereafter at 9.09 pm, one of persons who took part in the meeting told PTI.

Beba held a meeting with concerned officials of state load dispatch centres of India, Regional Load Dispatch Centres and National Load Dispatch Centre from 11.30 to 3.30 pm to know the preparedness for the blackout, he added.

It was agreed upon that the power production will be brought down at 9 pm on Sunday when the demand will dip and increase when it will rise, he added.

And for this, all the states have firmed up their plans. There will not be any problem during the blackout, he said.

On July 30, 2002, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Gujarat, Goa and Chhattisgarh had plunged into darkness when Mumbai-based Western Region Grid had collapsed.

At that time, Madhya Pradesh had been blamed for overdrawing excess power from the grid, bringing down drastically its frequency.

A grids frequency is treated ideal between 49.9 and 50.05 Hertz.

The possibility of grid collapses rises when frequency nosedives due to excess withdrawal of power compared to its availability in the system.

In contrast, frequency shoots up when excess power is available compared to less demand in the system, due to which sometimes there is a risk of collapse of the grid, power expert RK Verma said.

Former Madhya Pradesh Power Transmission Company Chairman and Managing Director RK Verma said there is nothing to panic about, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made the announcement two days ahead of the blackout.

Right now due to the lockdown, the power demand is significantly less.

"The industrial demand I think was just 20 per cent, of its total capacity across the country given that the production houses are shut or working with skelton work forces," Verma added.

Secondly, he said, during the nine minutes of the blackout, all electricity appliance should not be be switched off at one go. Refrigerators and air-conditioners will be operating at that time. So, the grids frequency will not go up drastically with less withdrawals.

Moreover, the grids were safe due to modern technologies now-a-days, he added.

There are five grids in India all of them are inter-connected to wheel power from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, Verma said.

Health ministry issues guidelines for states on oxygen supply to facilities handling COVID-19 cases

The Union health ministry has issued guidelines for the states on the method of supplying oxygen to the medical facilities handling COVID-19 patients and said all hospitals and staff concerned must be told to ensure timely requisitions and payments so that there is no disruption in the oxygen supply.

In a letter to the additional chief secretaries, health secretaries and mission directors of the National Health Mission of all states and Union territories, the ministry said the COVID-19 pandemic is throwing up unique challenges for our health systems and also leading to challenges of not only ensuring an adequate oxygen supply but also regarding the protocols related to handling the major sources of supplies.

"Keeping the above facts in mind, guidelines have been prepared by incorporating the major sources of oxygen supply, oxygen system component, normative requirement of the quantity of oxygen and precautions required for handling oxygen cylinders, including disinfecting the cylinders right from the filling point to transportation, loading, unloading, use, exchange, carriage in the hospitals and in critical care facilities.

"All concerned hospitals and staff must be informed to ensure timely requisitions and payments so that there is no disruption in oxygen supplies," the ministry said.

It has enclosed with the guidelines the control room emergency contact numbers of the All India Industrial I Gases Manufacturers' Association for the states and Union territories in case they face any difficulty or need clarifications.

Modi chairs meeting with empowered groups

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday chaired a meeting of the various empowered groups set up to respond to the coronavirus threat and directed officials to ensure sufficient availability of all essential medical equipment such as personal protective equipment, masks, gloves and ventilators.

Modi reviewed countrywide preparedness regarding availability of hospitals, proper isolation and quarantine facilities as well as disease surveillance, testing and critical care training, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said.

At the joint meeting of the empowered groups constituted for planning and ensuring implementation of COVID-19 response, the prime minister also directed the groups and officials concerned to ensure sufficient production, procurement and availability of all essential medical equipment such as PPEs, masks, gloves and ventilators, the PMO said in a series of tweets.

The government last Sunday constituted 11 empowered groups to suggest measures to ramp up healthcare, put the economy back on track and reduce misery of people as quickly as possible post the 21-day lockdown imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

These groups are empowered to identify problem areas and provide effective solutions, delineate policy, formulate plans, strategise operations and take all necessary steps for effective and time-bound implementation of plans, strategies or decisions in their respective areas, a notification issued by Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla had said.

Out of these 11 empowered groups, nine are headed by secretary-level officers, one by a NITI Aayog member and one by the NITI Aayog CEO.

The groups that were constituted include empowered group on medical equipment and management plan, empowered group on availability of hospitals, empowered group on essential drugs, medical equipment, empowered group on augmenting human resources by MSME and empowered group on facilitating supply chain and logistics management.

Besides them, the empowered group on coordinating with private sector NGOs and international organisations, empowered group on public grievances and suggestions, empowered group on public awareness, empowered group on technology, empowered group on strategic issues relating to lockdown and empowered group on economy and welfare, have been set up.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation on COVID-19 via a video message, in New Delhi, Friday, April 3, 2020. PM Modi urged people to switch off lights of their homes at 9 pm for nine minutes on April 5 and light up lamps, candles, mobile flashlights to display the nations collective spirit to defeat coronavirus.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation on COVID-19 via a video message, in New Delhi, Friday, April 3, 2020. PM Modi urged people to switch off lights of their homes at 9 pm for nine minutes on April 5 and light up lamps, candles, mobile flashlights to display the nations collective spirit to defeat coronavirus. PTI

Odisha transport department's Covid-19 quiz

The Odisha transport department on Saturday introduced an online quiz competition on road safety in an effort to keep people engaged during the ongoing nationwide lockdown and the state-imposed total shutdown in three cities.

The initiative by the State Transport Authority (STA) will continue till the end of the 21-day lockdown and 48-hour shutdown in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Bhadrak.

The names of five winners will be announced every day and they will get Rs 1,000 each, Transport Commissioner Sanjeev Panda said.

"As most of the citizens remain indoors, we are introducing few activities relating to road safety to have a meaningful and enriching experience," Panda said, adding, participants can also get latest updates regarding motor vehicle rules.

He hoped that with enhanced knowledge, citizens will be more responsible on the road and help the society in improving traffic culture.

The quiz will feature 20 questions.

The state government has imposed a total shutdown, akin to curfew, in the three cities for 48 hours from 8 pm on Friday during which all essential supplies have been suspended. Only a handful of medicine stores are open with special permission.

Elsewhere in the state, the ongoing lockdown remained in force and essential supplies were available.

People in Lucknow fly kites during lockdown

Many people in Lucknow during this lockdown period are spending time flying kites which is proving to be a headache for metro authorities.

"People flying kites near the metro corridor using metallic thread or Chinese manja are posing problems," a senior official of UP Metro Rail Corporation told PTI.

"This is very dangerous as the overhead electrification has 20,000 watt power supply and can lead to serious accidents," he said.

Elaborating, he said, in areas around Nishatganj, Badshah Nagar and Alambagh close to the metro corridor, residents can be seen flying kites and wherever the threads touch the overhead electrification, it trips.

During the past few days, cases of overhead electrification tripping have been frequent, he said, adding metallic wires have also been seen in tangled state on metro property.

Though metro services in Lucknow are currently not operational because of the lockdown, one train each is being run in the morning and evening on a daily basis for readiness purpose, he said.

The official said the UP Metro has been appealing to the people not to fly kites, specially using metallic threads, near the metro corridor, adding awareness campaigns have also been run highlighting its ill effects.  

Medical staff wearing protective gear walk inside a disinfecting tunnel outside a hospital where most VOVID-19 patients are being treated in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Friday, April 3, 2020.
Medical staff wearing protective gear walk inside a disinfecting tunnel outside a hospital where most VOVID-19 patients are being treated in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Friday, April 3, 2020. (AP Photo/ Dar Yasin)

First case in Bhopal discharged

The first person to test coronavirus positive in Bhopal, and her journalist father, also a COVID-19 patient, have been discharged from a hospital here after their repeat samples tested negative, a senior official said on Saturday.

The daughter-father duo was discharged from the AIIMS, Bhopal on Friday night, the official said. "The woman as well as her journalist father was discharged as their repeat samples tested negative," director of AIIMS Bhopal, Dr Sarman Singh told PTI.

She tested positive on March 21, while her 62-year-old father was found infected four days later. Both of them were admitted to AIIMS, Bhopal for treatment.

Days before testing positive, the journalist attended then chief minister Kamal Nath's press conference on March 20. His test results later triggered panic among those journalists, who were also present at Nath's briefing. His daughter, a post-graduate student of law in London, returned to Bhopal via Delhi on March 18.

Police officials distribute fruits among their colleagues on duty during the nationwide lockdown, in wake of coronavirus pandemic, in Bhopal, Thursday, April 2, 2020.
Police officials distribute fruits among their colleagues on duty during the nationwide lockdown, in wake of coronavirus pandemic, in Bhopal, Thursday, April 2, 2020. PTI

Mizoram launches Covid-19 app, opens helpline for farmers

The Mizoram government has launched a comprehensive mobile app containing various information and updates on COVID-19. State Information and Communication Technology (ICT) minister Robert Romawia Royte launched the mCOVID-19 mobile application on Friday.

Launching the new mobile app, Royte lauded the software engineers of the ICT department for developing such an innovative app within a short time.

He said that the application will help administrators, frontline health workers, volunteers of taskforce at various levels and also decision-makers in providing the latest information on COVID-19.

The mCOVID-19 android application is developed in such a way as to suit the local requirement, he said. Apart from local updates, the application contains national and world-wide updates on the deadly virus in Mizo language, Royte said. The application could be downloaded from mcovid19.mizoram.gov.in.

The state government on Friday also launched a helpline to address the problem of farmers during the nationwide lockdown. Farmers can reach state Agriculture department on phone numbers 0389- 2311160 and 0389 2328564 between 10 am and 2 pm.