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India between Stage 2 and 3 of Covid-19 pandemic: health ministry

A record jump of 704 cases in 24 hours registered on Monday
North MCD workers sanitise a locality in Model Town in view of coronavirus outbreak, during the ongoing nationwide lockdown, in New Delhi, Monday, April 6, 2020.

PTI   |   New Delhi   |   Published 06.04.20, 06:03 AM

India between Stage 2 and 3 of Covid-19 pandemic: Health Ministry

India is between Stage 2 and 3 of coronavirus pandemic with large number of cases being found in particular areas, the Union Health Ministry said on Monday concurring with the AIIMS Director's remarks that localised community transmission is being observed in some pockets of the country.


AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria, who is also a member of a Task Force on Covid-19, on Monday reportedly said that 'localised community transmission' has been seen in some pockets and that India is between Stage 2 (local transmission) and Stage 3.

He had clarified that the most of India is currently at Stage 2 of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Asked about Guleria's remarks, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health Lav Agarwal said, 'What the AIIMS Director has said is not in variance with what we have been explaining to you.'

Explaining further, Agarwal said that they go for a cluster containment strategy when limited cases are reported from a particular area while the government's action and intervention gets intensified when larger number of cases are reported.

'We tell you every time that if there will be a community transmission we will be the first one to tell you so that everyone gets alert. If we go by the wordings (of AIIMS Director), he said localised community transmission, which implies larger number of cases are being found in a particular area,' the official said.

'We are in between Stage 2 and 3 and that implies that our efforts and actions should be focused on ensuring we do not shift to stage 3,' the joint secretary said, adding there are clear defined strategies for containment in areas reporting larger number of cases and the government was working according to that.

In Stage 2, disease transmission is limited to those with travel history to affected countries or those in contact with the infected persons.

Community transmission or Stage 3 means a patient was infected though he had no known contact with another confirmed case of Covid-19 or travelled from a country affected by the pandemic.

Finance Ministry working on new relief package

Sources said the Finance Ministry is also working on a new relief package for the Indian economy hit hard by the outbreak and the lockdown. Last month, the government had announced a Rs 1.70 lakh crore relief package in the form of food grains and cash transfers for poor and vulnerable sections to help them deal with the hardships caused by the lockdown.

In his video conference with ministers, Modi also asked them to explore innovative solutions like 'truck aggregators' on the lines of app-based cab services to connect farmers with mandis and also underlined the need to devise a strategy to ensure procurement of tribal products.

Separately addressing the BJP workers on the party's 40th foundation day, Modi also asked every BJP worker to donate to the PM-CARES Fund and also encourage others to contribute to it to help his government's measures against the pandemic.

The new cases of confirmed infection reported since Sunday include those from Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, while fresh deaths have been reported from Gujarat, Andhra and Rajasthan among other places.

Railways said it has converted 2,500 coaches into isolation wards, achieving half of its target of delivering 5000 such coaches in the first phase as part of its efforts to supplement the government's measures to fight coronavirus.

With the conversion of around 2,500 coaches, 40,000 isolation beds are now ready for use, Railways said in a statement.

The Supreme Court also directed all courts across the country to extensively use video-conferencing for judicial proceedings saying congregation of lawyers and litigants must be suspended to maintain social distancing amid coronavirus pandemic.

PM says 'long fight' ahead to defeat Covid-19

Cautioning people to be ready for a 'long fight' against Covid-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday told his ministers to make plans for slowly exiting the ongoing lockdown and to contain the economic impact of the deadly virus pandemic, including by reducing dependence on other countries.

As more people tested positive in New Delhi, Mumbai and other parts of the country, the nationwide tally of infections went over 4,500 and the death toll rose to at least 129, as per figures announced by various states. The government also announced a 30 per cent cut in salaries, allowances and pensions of all MPs for one year and a two-year suspension of their local area development funds worth nearly Rs 8,000 crore.

The Union Health Ministry indicated the disease is in 'localised community transmission' stage with a large number of cases being found in some particular areas, amid indications that some areas including in Uttar Pradesh may not see full exit from the lockdown.

Addressing his council of ministers in a video conference, Modi asked them to prepare business continuity plans to fight the economic impact of Covid-19 on a war footing, but also asserted that this crisis is an opportunity to boost the 'Make-in-India' initiative and reduce dependence on other countries.

He also indicated a phased emergence from the lockdown and said that 'a graded plan to slowly open departments where hotspots aren't existing should be made'.

'This is going to be a long fight. We don't have to tire or feel defeated. We have to win in this long battle. We have to emerge victorious. Today, the nation's goal, mission and resolve are one, and this is to be victorious in this battle against the coronavirus pandemic,' Modi said.

In their daily briefing, government officials announced fresh figures to show that the people linked to Tablighi Jamaat account for more than one-third of the total tally and also said that elderly persons are in high risk category and so are those aged between 40-60 years with other serious medical conditions.

The death toll due to the novel coronavirus pandemic rose to 111 and the number of infections climbed to 4,281 in the country on Monday registering a record jump of 704 cases in 24 hours, according to Union Health Ministry data.

The active Covid-19 cases stood at 3,851, while 318 people were either cured or discharged and one had migrated, the ministry stated.

According to the data updated at 6 PM, 28 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours -- 21 from Maharashtra, two each from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and one each from Punjab, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.

According to the ministry, Maharashtra has reported the most coronavirus deaths at 45, followed by Gujarat (12), Madhya Pradesh (9), Telangana (7), Delhi (7), Punjab (6) and Tamil Nadu (5).

Karnataka has reported four deaths, while West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh have recorded three fatalities each. Two deaths each have been reported from Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala.

Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana have reported a fatality each, according to the data.

The total number of cases includes 66 foreign nationals.

However, a PTI tally based on figures reported by states directly showed at least 126 deaths across the country.

There has been a lag in the Union Health Ministry figures, compared to the numbers announced by different states, which officials attribute to procedural delays in assigning the cases to individual states.

The country-wide death toll on Sunday was 83.

The highest number of confirmed cases are from Maharashtra (748), followed by Tamil Nadu at 571 and Delhi with 523 cases.

Cases in Telangana have gone up to 321, in Kerala to 314, in Uttar Pradesh to 305, while the number of cases has gone up to 274 in Rajasthan.

There are 226 cases in Andhra Pradesh.

Covid-19 cases have risen to 165 in Madhya Pradesh, 151 in Karnataka, followed by 144 in Gujarat.

Jammu and Kashmir has 109 cases and Haryana has 84 cases. West Bengal has reported 80 infections, followed by Punjab at 76.

Thirty-two people are infected with Covid-19 in Bihar, while Assam and Uttarakhand have 26 cases each.

Odisha has 21 positive patients, Chandigarh has 18, Ladakh has 14 and Himachal Pradesh has 13 patients.

Ten cases have been reported each from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Chhattisgarh. Goa has reported seven Covid-19 infections, followed by Puducherry with five cases.

Jharkhand has reported four cases, while Manipur has reported two cases. Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have reported an infection each.

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

MP salaries to be cut, MPLADs to be suspended

In addition to pay cuts for MPs that include ministers, the government also said that President, Vice President and state governors have also taken voluntary salary cuts to help fund the Covid-19 fight.

Congress welcomed the decision to cut MPs' salaries, but said suspending MPLADs, as the development fund scheme is known, will undermine the role of an MP and called for its review. CPI(M) also slammed the suspension of the MLAD scheme, while Trinamool Congress called it 'whimsical'.

Experts opined that the lockdown, in its 13th day on Monday, has helped in slowing down the spread of the virus, but called for an exponential ramping up of the testing mechanism and upgrading of healthcare facilities. The Indian Council of Medical Research, which has so far conducted nearly 90,000 coronavirus tests, said orders have been placed for 5 lakh rapid antibody testing kits.

The new positive cases reported by various states include a 14-month-old boy in Gujarat's Jamnangar district with no travel history, as also a 2 1/2-year-old son of Lucknow's first Covid-19 patient. two private hospitals in Mumbai were sealed after some of their medical staff, including doctors and nurses, tested positive.

In Haryana, five villages were sealed and all their residents quarantined after it was found that some foreign members of Tablighi Jamaat had stayed there, the Union Home Ministry said. More than 25,500 Jamaat members and their contacts have been quarantined across the country, while 1,750 foreign-based members of the religious group, out of the total 2,083, have been blacklisted till now by the Indian government, a senior Ministry official said.

The evening update from the Union Health Ministry put the number of confirmed cases at 4,281 with 111 deaths. However, a PTI tally of figures announced by various states as at 6.30 PM showed more than 4,500 have been infected so far, 129 have died and 344 have been cured and discharged. West Bengal has revised downward its death toll from 7 to 3.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the number of Covid-19 cases in the national capital has reached 523, out of which 330 are from the Nizamuddin centre of the Jamaat. He said testing is being ramped up and his government has placed placed orders for one lakh testing kits to be used from Friday.

The cases have risen sharply in the national capital and in Mumbai over last few days. At least 57 new cases were reported in the country's financial capital on Monday, taking its total tally to 490, while the state-wide number of positive cases in Maharashtra has neared 800.

Officials have, however, maintained that the spread has still been slower in India than many other countries.

India receives 1.7 lakh PPEs donated by China

India on Monday received 1.70 lakh personal protection equipment (PPE) coveralls donated by China, the Union Health Ministry said.

Along with the domestic supplies of 20,000 coveralls, a total of 1.90 lakh coveralls will now be distributed to hospitals and will add to the 3,87,473 PPEs already available in the country as of now, it said.

Supply lines from abroad opened up today with the receipt of 1.70 lakh Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) coveralls from China which have been donated to the Government of India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in press release.

A total of 2.94 lakh PPE coveralls have been arranged and supplied by the Centre till now to states, the ministry said.

In addition to this, 2 lakh domestically produced N-95 masks are also being sent to various hospitals. Including these, over 20 lakh N-95 masks have been supplied by the government of India.

'About 16 lakh N-95 masks are presently available in the country, and this figure will increase with the fresh supply of 2 lakh masks,' the ministry said.

Major portions of the fresh supplies are being sent to states with comparatively higher number of cases such as Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Delhi, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Rajasthan.

Supplies are also being sent to central institutions like AIIMS, Safdarjung and RML hospitals, RIMS, NEIGRIHMS, BHU and AMU, it said.

'The commencement of foreign supplies marks a major milestone in our efforts to procure personal protection equipment for the battle against Covid-19,' the ministry said.

An order for 80 lakh complete PPE kits (including N-95 masks) had been placed on a Singapore-based platform earlier and now it has been indicated that supplies will commence from April 11 with the first installment of 2 lakh, followed by 8 lakh more soon thereafter, it said.

'Negotiations are in final stages with a Chinese platform for placing an order of 60 lakh complete PPE kits, which will also include N95 masks. Separate orders for N95 masks and protective goggles are also being placed on some foreign companies,' the ministry said in its statement.

Giving a further fillip to domestic capabilities, the Northern Railways has developed a PPE coverall, in addition to the PPE coveralls and N-99 masks developed by DRDO earlier, it said.

'Efforts are now being made to start mass production of these products,' the ministry said, adding existing N-95 mask producers have increased their capacity to about 80,000 masks per day.

In all, orders have been placed for 112.76 lakhs standalone N95 masks and 157.32 lakhs PPE coveralls. Out of these, 80 lakh PPE kits will include N95 masks, it said,

'The objective is to achieve a supply of about 10 lakh PPE kits per week. Looking at the number of patients in the country, sufficient quantities are available for the moment. Further supplies are expected within this week,' the ministry said.

India's growth may slip below 3% in FY21 if Covid-19 proliferates: KPMG

India's growth could slip below 3 per cent in the current fiscal if Covid-19 proliferates within India, lockdown extended and global economy slips into recession, a KPMG report said.

It said the three major contributors to GDP -- private consumption, investment and external trade -- will all get affected due to the spread of the pandemic.

The KPMG report presented three scenarios to explain the economic effects of Covid--19. In the scenario of quick retraction across globe by April-end to mid-May, the report said 'India's growth for 2020-21 may be in the range of 5.3 to 5.7 per cent, though this scenario looks distant at this moment'.

In the second scenario where India is able to control Covid-19 spread, but there is a significant global recession, the KPMG report said India's growth is expected to be in the range of 4-4.5 per cent.

However if the pandemic proliferates and there is global recession then it would be a double whammy for the economy as it will have to bear the brunt of both domestic and global demand destruction, KPMG report said.

'Prolonged lockdowns would exacerbate economic troubles. India's growth may fall below 3 per cent under this scenario,' it added.

These growth projections compare to an estimated 5 per cent growth rate in 2019-20.

The report said steps taken to contain the virus spread such as the nationwide lockdown have brought economic activity to a near-standstill, with impacts on both consumption and investment.

'While Indian businesses, barring a few sectors, can possibly insulate themselves from the global supply chain disruptions caused by the outbreak due to relatively lower reliance on intermediate imports, their exports to Covid-19 infected nations could take a hit,' it said.

Two Mumbai private hospitals sealed after staff test positive

Google Maps to show locations of Covid-19 food, night shelters in India

Google on Monday said it will now show the locations of food and night shelters on Google Maps in cities across India to help people find these essential services during the ongoing lockdown.

Google, in a statement, said it is working closely with state and central government authorities to surface the locations of these relief centres.

'To date, across 30 cities, people can now find these locations on Google Maps, Search and Google Assistant,' it added.

Users can search for 'Food shelters in ' or 'Night shelters in ' in any of these Google products.

The service will also be made available in Hindi soon, the statement said.

Google is working to bring this service to other Indian languages over the coming weeks, as well as adding additional shelters in more cities across the country, it added.

He added that highlighting the locations of food and night shelters on Google Maps is a step to make this information easily available to the users in need, and ensure they can avail the food and shelter services being provided by the government authorities.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused disruption in people's lives, affecting aspects like livelihood, regular access to food and transportation. Many migrant workers started moving from various cities across the country towards their home on foot.

'With the help of volunteers, NGOs, and traffic authorities, we hope to convey this important information to the affected people, many of whom may not have access to a smartphone or mobile device during this time,' he said.

IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also tweeted about the feature.

'Now you can use Google Maps, Search and Google Assistant to find out food shelters and night shelters near you and help a needy person. This has been developed by @GoogleIndia in collaboration with @mygovindia,' he wrote.

Two private hospitals in Mumbai have been sealed after some of their medical staff, including doctors and nurses, tested positive for the novel coronavirus, civic officials said on Monday.

Three doctors and 26 nurses tested positive for novel coronavirus in Wockhardt Hospital in Mumbai Central and the facility has been sealed off to prevent the spread of infection, BMC health officials said.

No one is allowed to enter or exit the private hospital, a civic official said.

The hospital has several employees from Kerala, prompting Congress leader from the southern state, Ramesh Chennithala, to tweet, 'Called Maharashtra health minister Shri. Rajesh Tope ji @rajeshtope11 seeking urgent intervention to ensure safety of 40 Covid-19 positive Malayalee nurses working @ a pvt hospital in Mumbai.'

New admissions were stopped and Outpatient Department (OPD) was closed at the Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai on Wednesday after at least one of its staff tested positive for coronavirus.

A nurse working at the private hospital had alleged in a video message that was circulating on social media that more than one staff member had contracted coronavirus, but the hospital said only one person had tested positive.

Following the allegations by the nurse, a meeting was called at the Brihhanmumbai Municipal Corporation office, which was attended by top officials of the hospital, BMC sources said.

As per the nurse who is seen speaking in the video, the hospital management did not inform the staff about admission of a Covid-19 patient.

When contacted, Jaslok Hospital admitted that a nurse who came in contact with a Covid-19 patient did test positive.

'The staff members handling Covid-19 patients are given protective gears like face masks, gloves, eye protection, Personal Protection Equipment for contact droplet and airborne transmission of pathogens, long-sleeved water resistant gown to ensure precaution.

'All the medical staff who came in direct or indirect contact of the affected nurse and the connected patient have been identified and quarantined as per the protocol,' it said.

As a precautionary measure, the hospital has suspended its OPD services and no new admissions are being taken for a few days, it said.

UP cases touch 305

The number of coronavirus-positive cases in Uttar Pradesh crossed 300 mark on Monday with 27 more persons testing positive, taking the number of infected ones to 305.

'As many as 27 more persons, of which 21 are linked to the Jamaat, tested corona-positive in the state since Sunday,' Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said.

The state has so far reported three deaths, one each from Basti, Meerut and Varanasi while at least 21 of the infected persons have been cured.

Among the fresh cases in the state, eight have been reported from Sitapur, five each from Lucknow and Shamli, three from Gautam Budh Nagar, two from Agra, and one each from Kanpur, Bijnore, Allahabad and Kaushambi, he said.

Till Sunday total cases were 278 in which about half of the total were linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi's Nizamuddin, from where participants carried the virus to several parts of the country, officials had said.

60 people, including doctors, quarantined in Bikaner hospital

Over 50 people, including doctors and nursing staff of a hospital in Bikaner have been quarantined after samples taken from a 60-year-old woman, who died here, tested positive for coronavirus, officials have said.

The staff at the state-run PBM Hospital had handed over the body of the woman to her family members on Friday afternoon but the results of the Covid-19 test came at night, they said. By then, the family members had already cremated the body, the officials said on Sunday.

An inquiry was ordered after the matter came to light. Realising the mistake, a rapid response team was rushed to quarantine the family members, they have said.

'After the matter came to light, a report was sought from the medical college principal and hospital superintendent,' Bikaner district collector Kumar Pal Gautam has said.

Bikaner Chief Medical and Health Officer Dr B. L. Meena said 20 family members of the deceased, 15 neighbours and as many hospital staff have been quarantined.

'The woman was earlier admitted to a private hospital before being referred to PBM Hospital. Six staffers of the private hospital have been isolated,' Meena has said.

14-month-old baby dies tests positive

A 14-month-old boy with no travel history has tested positive for coronavirus in Gujarat's Jamnagar district, sending the health officials into an overdrive to find out from where the child contracted the deadly disease.

The child, whose test came out positive on Sunday, is on ventilator support and the locality where his labourer parents reside in Dared village has been put under complete lockdown to check the spread of the virus, officials said.

This is also the first case of coronavirus infection in Jamnagar district.

The health administration now has undertaken the task to trace the source of infection to the child.

Since the child's parents are casual labourers with no recent travel history, health officials are yet to find out the exact source of infection, Jamnagar Collector Ravi Shankar said.

'The child is the son of a labourer couple hailing from Uttar Pradesh. They live in Dared industrial area on the outskirts of Jamnagar city and work in factories as casual labourers. They have not gone out of the area since long. Yet, their 14-month-old son got the coronavirus infection,' the collector said.

Be on high alert: Central Zoo Authority after tiger in US tests positive 

The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) on Monday asked all zoos across the country to be on high alert and collect samples fortnightly in suspected cases after a tiger at a US zoo tested positive for coronavirus.

In a letter to all states and Union territories, CZA member secretary S. P. Yadav said the United States Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratories has confirmed Covid-19 in a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York.

'Zoos in the country are, therefore, advised to remain on highest alertness, and monitor animals 24X7 using CCTVs for any abnormal behaviour or symptoms,' it said.

The authority said mammals, especially cats, ferrets and primates, need to be carefully monitored and fortnightly samples of suspected cases be sent to designated animal health institutes for Covid-19 testing.

The samples can be sent to the National Institute of High Security Animal Disease in Bhopal, the National Research Centre on Equines in Haryana's Hisar and the Indian Veterinary Research Institute in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, the letter said.

'Sick animals should be isolated and quarantined,' it added.

No keeper or handler should be allowed in the vicinity of animals without safety gear, preferably personal protective equipment (PPE). They should have least contact with animals while providing them feed, it said.

Two more deaths reported in Andhra

Two coronavirus deaths were reported in Andhra Pradesh, taking the toll in the state due to the disease to three, the government said on Monday.

The state also recorded 14 new cases since Sunday night, taking the tally to 266.

The total number of Covid-19 deaths in the state has risen to three, a bulletin issued by the Medical and Health Department said.

Five patients had recovered in the last few days and were discharged from hospitals.

As such, the number of active cases now stood at 258.

The latest bulletin issued by the Medical and Health Department on Monday said a 64-year old man in Anantapuramu, who tested positive for coronavirus on April 1 upon his return from Mecca, died in hospital on April 4.

Another 55-year-old in Machilipatnam too died due to coronavirus on April 4. His was a case of local transmission as he returned by train from Odisha late last month and was admitted to the government hospital on April 2.

UP man with cold, cough ends life, cops suspect

A 35-year-old man who had self-isolated after having cough and cold, hanged himself in Jamalpur village in Banda, with the police suspecting that he acted out of the fear of having contracted the novel coronavirus.

Rajendra took the extreme step at his in-laws' house on Saturday.

His brother-in-law told police that after having cough and cold he isolated himself in a room after some villagers suspected that he was suffering from Covid-19.

'Maybe, he committed suicide due to this. The matter is being probed,' a police official said.

The district's Chief Medical Officer Dr Santosh Kumar said the man had not visited any government hospital for treatment.

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