Monday, 30th October 2017

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India partially lifts ban on export of Hydroxychloroquine

508 new cases in the last 24 hours, Government decision on extending lockdown awaited

By PTI in New Delhi
  • Published 7.04.20, 12:30 PM
  • Updated 7.04.20, 8:53 PM
  • 25 mins read
  •  
A GHMC worker cleans an area during the nationwide lockdown, imposed in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, in the old city of Hyderabad, Tuesday, April 7, 2020. PTI

The death toll in the country due to novel coronavirus rose to 124 and the number of cases climbed to 4,789 on Tuesday, registering an increase of 508 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry.

While the number of active Covid-19 cases stood at 4,312, as many as 352 people were cured and discharged and one has migrated to another country, it stated. The total number of cases include 66 foreign nationals.

According to the ministry's data updated at 6 PM, 13 deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours.

Four deaths were reported from Madhya Pradesh, three from Maharashtra, three from Rajasthan and one each from Gujarat, Odisha and Punjab.

Maharashtra has reported the most coronavirus deaths so far at 48, followed by Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh at 13 each, Telangana, Punjab and Delhi seven each and Tamil Nadu with five fatalities.

Karnataka has registered four deaths so far, while West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan have recorded three fatalities each. Two deaths each have been reported from Jammu and Kashmir and Kerala. Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana have reported one fatality each, according to the health ministry's data.

However, a PTI tally based on the figures reported by the states directly showed at least 143 deaths across the country, while the number of confirmed cases reached 4,998. Of them, 414 have been cured and discharged.

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 the states.

The highest number of confirmed cases are from Maharashtra at 868, followed by Tamil Nadu at 621 and Delhi with 576 cases. Telengana has reported 364 cases followed by Kerala at 327 Covid-19 cases.

Uttar Pradesh has 305 cases, Rajasthan 288 cases and Andhra Pradesh reported 266 coronavirus cases.

Novel coronavirus cases have risen to 229 in Madhya Pradesh, 175 in Karnataka and 165 in Gujarat.

Jammu and Kashmir has 116 cases, West Bengal and Punjab have 91 positive patients each while Haryana has 90 cases and Odisha reported 42 coronavirus cases.

Thirty-two people were infected with the virus in Bihar while Uttarakhand has 31 patients and Assam 26. Chandigarh has 18 cases, Ladakh 14 and Himachal Pradesh 13 cases.

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

Jharkhand has reported four cases and Manipur two. Tripura, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have reported one case of the infection each.

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

Government decision on extending lockdown awaited

The Union government is thinking of extending the nationwide lockdown beyond April 14 to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic following requests from several states and experts, government sources said, but clarified on Tuesday that a final decision on was yet to be taken.

Joint secretary in the Union health ministry Lav Aggarwal said, “No decision on extending lockdown as yet (taken), please don’t speculate.”

India is currently under a 21-day lockdown since March 25, with only essential services exempted, to contain the fast-spreading virus, which has claimed more than 75,800 lives globally and afflicted over 13.5 lakh people across 183 countries.

“A lot of state governments as well as experts are requesting the Central government to extend the lockdown. The Central government is thinking in this direction,” a source said, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked countrymen to be ready for a long battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chairing a meeting of the council of ministers through video conferencing on Monday, Modi had clearly indicated that the lifting of the lockdown in one go was very unlikely. The Prime Minister also asked ministers for suggestions on whether the restrictions should be lifted sector-wise or district-wise, a source said.

Reiterating that lockdown measures and social distancing norms need to go hand in hand, Modi also told ministers to popularise the Aarogya Setu app in rural areas and grassroots institutions.

Several chief ministers have favoured the extension of the lockdown in the country to contain the fast-spreading virus.

Southern Railways to operate daily services of cargo trains

The Southern Railways on Tuesday announced that it would operate daily services of cargo trains connecting destinations to ensure that essential commodities reached on time.

Earlier, it operated the parcel cargo express operated as weekly service between Chennai Central and New Delhi. It has been made as a daily service now, an official said.

The train would comprise five high capacity parcel vans and one luggage cum brake van.

Similarly, 12 services of Chennai Egmore and Nagercoil Parcel Express and 12 services of Chennai-Coimbatore Parcel Cargo Express Specials would also be operated everyday.

"This is mainly to ensure that the essential services reach the cities (on time)..", an official said.

The trains would be operated from April 9 to 14, the Southern Railway said.

In a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus, Tamil Nadu government which had initially announced the shutdown till March 31 extended it till April 14 in line with the national lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Nodal officer appointed to assist Indians stranded in USA, Centre tells HC

The Centre informed the Delhi High Court Tuesday that a nodal officer has been appointed in New York to offer assistance to Indians stranded in the US due to the global outbreak of coronavirus.

The submission was made before a bench of Justices Manmohan and Sanjeev Narula which was hearing, via video conferencing, an Indian couple's plea for evacuation of their 24-year-old daughter from USA where she is stranded jobless.

Their plea also sought safe and secure return of all Indian citizens employed in the US who, like their daughter, lost their jobs after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Central government standing counsel Jasmeet Singh told the bench that a nodal officer has been appointed in New York "to offer all possible help and assistance to all Indian citizens and to ensure their well being".

Singh also told the court that the Deputy Consulate General would get in touch with the couple's daughter and "will provide her all reasonable assistance, including facilitation in obtaining accommodation at reduced rate in a safe place".

"The statement made by the central government standing counsel for Union of India is accepted by this court and the Union of India is held bound by the same," the bench said and listed the matter for further hearing on May 8.

The couple, represented by advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal, meanwhile, decided not to press for evacuation of their daughter at this stage.

The couple moved the high court as their daughter was stranded jobless in the USA after her employer suddenly asked her to resign on March 20 in the wake of Covid-19 and she could not return to India due to ban on commercial flights.

Similar is the situation of many Indian citizens who were employed in the US but are now stranded there jobless in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak, the petition has claimed.

The plea has also said that the petitioners' 24-year-old daughter -- Yasmin Tahiira Hussain -- only has two months from March 20 to leave the USA as per her H1b visa conditions.

The petition has claimed that if the travel ban is further extended then it would be difficult for her to leave the USA and she cannot survive there for long without a regular source of income as should would not be able to afford food or rent.

The couple also told the bench that their daughter was "facing mental and emotional stress and trauma" as she had no job and all her flatmates had returned home leaving her alone in the flat.

BSF cancels all movement of troops till Apr 21

The Border Security Force (BSF) on Tuesday said it has suspended all movement of its troops till April 21 as a preventive measure against the coronavirus outbreak.

"Instructions have been issued to all formations of BSF that leave of personnel to be extended upto April 21 who are already on leave and are due to join in the month of April, 2020."

"To avoid any communication gap, such personnel are being telephonically informed," a BSF spokesperson at its headquarters here said.

He added that similar instructions have been issued to the centers where training programs were already running and were due to terminate in the coming days.

"No movement before April 21. Stay wherever you are," the spokesperson added.

PTI had on Monday reported that all Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) have suspended all non-essential movement of its troops and staffers as they have extended their leaves by another 10 days, till April 15, in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The earlier orders were issued mid-March asking jawans and officers of CAPFs to "be where they are" till April 5.

The about 2.5 lakh personnel strength BSF is primarily deployed to guard Indian borders with Paksitan and Bangladesh apart from rendering a variety of duties in the internal security domain of the country.

A second-in-command rank officer of the force had tested positive for the coronavirus in Gwalior's Tekanpur last month.

India sends 10-tonne consignment of essential medicines to Lanka

India on Tuesday gifted a 10-tonne consignment of essential life saving medicines to Sri Lanka to help it battle with the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 180 people and killed six in the country.

The health experts in Sri Lanka have warned that the country will experience a spike in the number of the confirmed Covid-19 cases by the end of this month.

The medicines provide by India were requested by Government of Sri Lanka. The consignment was brought to Sri Lanka by an Air India special charter flight on Tuesday.

This is yet another manifestation of India's unwavering commitment to stand with Sri Lanka, in rain and in shine. Despite its own domestic challenges and constraints, India has always believed in sharing its resources and expertise with its friends and partners, the Indian embassy said in a statement.

At the initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a SAARC leaders video conference was held on March 15 to discuss ways to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

India pledged USD 10 million to the SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund. Subsequently, a video conference of health professionals in SAARC countries was held on March 26.

Ministry of Health of India has also started offering online training sessions for health professionals in SAARC countries. SAARC Disaster Management Centre (SDMC) situated in Gandhinagar, Gujarat has developed a dedicated webpage pertaining to the Covid-19 situation in SAARC Member States.

Sri Lanka has been a valuable partner in all these initiatives, the Indian mission said.

The Sri Lankan doctors' trade union has warned that the number of positive cases are projected to rise within 48 days of the first confirmed case. Sri Lanka's first case was detected on March 11. The doctors say the pandemic spread would be extended in the country at least until end of June.

Sri Lanka experienced a relatively slow spread of the coronavirus pandemic. It took nearly a week for the case load to be doubled from 50 to 100.

Sri Lanka has 180 cases of infections currently with six deaths. Around 42 people have recovered.

The doctors' union said there are 42,000 people who had come in contact with the positive cases confirmed so far. They recommend tests to separate the infected with a 30 per cent who may not have proved positive despite carrying the disease.

The union said the island's health service capacity would be badly stretched if not checked now and this could lead to about 2,500 confirmed cases at the peak.

Sri Lanka is currently observing a lockdown with key districts being placed under continuous curfew.

Immigration authorities on Tuesday suspended the entry of all foreign nationals into the country until further notice.

Case against ophthalmologist for hiding info on Delhi visit

A case has been booked against an ophthalmologist for allegedly not disclosing information on attending the preparatory meeting for the Tablighi Jamat congregation in Delhi last month, police said on Tuesday.

Though a Covid-19 test report of the eye specialist, working at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) at Adilabad, Telangana, was negative, he continues to remain under hospital quarantine, they said.

The man, also a Jamat functionary and reportedly an organising committee member, had visited Delhi on March 8, returned to Adilabad on March 10 but he did not disclose anyone about his visit and began attending to patients from March 12 to April 1, police had earlier said.

However, he was not part of the religious congregation which was held later, they had said.

The ophthalmologist's name cropped up when the police were going through the names of those who returned from the event, following which they alerted health officials and based on their advice, he was placed in isolation at a hospital.

Based on a complaint filed by a RIMS official, a case was booked against the ophthalmologist under different sections of the IPC sections and under relevant sections of Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act, a senior police official told PTI over the phone.

Covid-19 crisis can push 40 cr informal sector workers in India deeper into poverty: ILO

The Covid-19 crisis has the potential to push around 40 crore informal sector workers in India deeper into poverty, with the lockdown and other containment measures affecting jobs and earnings, an International Labour Organisation (ILO) report said on Tuesday.

India has imposed a three-week lockdown till April 14 to contain the pandemic. As per ILO, India is among the countries less equipped to handle the situation.

"Covid-19 is already affecting tens of millions of informal workers. In India, Nigeria and Brazil, the number of workers in the informal economy affected by the lockdown and other containment measures is substantial," the ILO report released in Geneva said.

"In India, with a share of almost 90 per cent of people working in the informal economy, about 400 million workers in the informal economy are at risk of falling deeper into poverty during the crisis.

"Current lockdown measures in India, which are at the high end of the University of Oxford's Covid-19 Government Response Stringency Index, have impacted these workers significantly, forcing many of them to return to rural areas," it said.

The report further said countries experiencing fragility, protracted conflict, recurrent natural disasters or forced displacement will face a multiple burden due to the pandemic.

"They are less equipped to prepare for and respond to Covid-19 as access to basic services, especially health and sanitation, is limited; decent work, social protection and safety at work are not a given; their institutions are weak; and social dialogue is impaired or absent," it added.

The ILO also noted that the pandemic is having a catastrophic effect on working hours and earnings globally.

The new ILO report highlights some of the worst affected sectors and regions, and outlines policies to mitigate the crisis.

It found that the crisis is expected to wipe out 6.7 per cent of working hours globally in the second quarter of 2020 -- equivalent to 195 million full-time workers.

Large reductions are foreseen in the Arab states, (8.1 per cent, equivalent to 5 million full-time workers), Europe, (7.8 per cent, or 12 million full-time workers) and Asia and the Pacific (7.2 per cent, 125 million full-time workers).

Huge losses are expected across different income groups but especially in upper-middle income countries (7 per cent, 100 million full-time workers). This far exceeds the effects of the 2008-9 financial crisis.

The sectors most at risk include accommodation and food services, manufacturing, retail, and business and administrative activities.

The eventual increase in global unemployment during 2020 will depend substantially on future developments and policy measures.

There is a high risk that the end-of-year figure will be significantly higher than the initial ILO projection of 25 million, it said.

More than four out of five people (81 per cent) in the global workforce of 3.3 billion are currently affected by full or partial workplace closures.

"Workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies," ILO Director-General Guy Ryder said. "We have to move fast, decisively, and together. The right, urgent, measures, could make the difference between survival and collapse."

The 'ILO Monitor 2nd edition: Covid-19 and the world of work', which describes Covid-19 as "the worst global crisis since World War II", updates an ILO research note published on March 18.

The updated version includes sectoral and regional information on the effects of the pandemic.

According to the new study, 1.25 billion workers are employed in the sectors identified as being at high risk of "drastic and devastating" increases in layoffs and reductions in wages and working hours. Many are in low-paid, low-skilled jobs, where a sudden loss of income is devastating.

Looked at regionally, the proportion of workers in these "at risk" sectors varies from 41 per cent in the Americas to 26 per cent in Asia and the Pacific.

Other regions, particularly Africa, have higher levels of informality, which combined with a lack of social protection, high population density and weak capacity, pose severe health and economic challenges for governments, the report cautions.

Worldwide, two billion people work in the informal sector (mostly in emerging and developing economies) and are particularly at risk.

Large-scale, integrated, policy measures are needed, focusing on four pillars -- supporting enterprises, employment and incomes; stimulating the economy and jobs; protecting workers in the workplace; and, using social dialogue between government, workers and employers to find solutions, the study says.

"This is the greatest test for international cooperation in more than 75 years," said Ryder.

"If one country fails, then we all fail. We must find solutions that help all segments of our global society, particularly those that are most vulnerable or least able to help themselves.

"The choices we make today will directly affect the way this crisis unfolds and so the lives of billions of people," he added.

Naqvi appeals to Muslims to strictly follow lockdown guidelines on Shab-e-Barat

Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Tuesday appealed to Muslims to strictly follow the guidelines on lockdown and social distancing on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat by offering prayers and performing other religious rituals at their homes.

Shab-e-Barat is known as the night of forgiveness, during which Muslims all over the world gather in mosques and offer prayers. This year it falls on the intervening night of April 8 and 9.

In a statement, Naqvi said almost all religious leaders and religious and social organisations have appealed to Muslims to honestly follow the guidelines of the lockdown and social distancing on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat.

"All state waqf boards, through the Central Waqf Council, have been directed to assist the local administration in implementation of the lockdown completely on Shab-e-Barat and appeal to the people to offer prayers and perform other religious rituals staying inside their homes," he said.

"We should also pray at our homes to give strength to India and the entire world to eliminate the challenges posed by coronavirus," the Union minister said.

The minister said the entire country is seriously and honestly following the guidelines of the lockdown and social distancing on the appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

"Any type of carelessness can be harmful for us, our family, the society and the entire country. We should follow the guidelines of the administration to defeat coronavirus with all seriousness and honesty," Naqvi said.

Meanwhile, Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind General Secretary Maulana Mahmood Madani also appealed to Muslims to observe Shab-e-Barat at home and adhere to social distancing and lockdown guidelines.

He said that on Shab-e-Barat all prayers and worship can be performed at home.

While referring to the opinions of Islamic jurists regarding visit to graveyards on this night, Madani said according to them, visiting graveyards is not needed on every Shab-e-Barat.

He said that even in normal times, getting out of the house, making noise and creating chaos on the roads late at night, wandering on vehicles in hordes are not only against the teachings of Islam but also the violation of law.

Madani appealed to the community to stay away from un-Islamic things on this sacred night and abide by all the official guidelines in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and maintain social distance for the safety of people.

FDCI sets up COVID-19 support fund

The Fashion Design Council of India has started a support fund to provide financial assistance to small businesses and young designers in need amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Covid-19 Support Fund is an initiative by the council to aid individuals and craftspersons among others in these difficult times.

"... Unfortunately, not everyone is left with ample reserves to wade through this period of crisis. Smaller businesses (with tremendous potential) are run like a one-person-army; one individual taking care of a team of craftsmen, playing the role of a manufacturer, sales person, accountant, promoting and providing for his/her little family and bursting with ideas. A lot of them are not in a position (or have the luxury of time) to process formal paper-works to seek support from banks / financial institutions.

"We, as a fraternity, are what we are because of each one of our designers; their passion is our driving force and with a little support we can lend them some strength to spring back on their feet sooner than later," Sunil Sethi, FDCI chairman, said in a statement on the council's official website.

Minister of Textiles, Smriti Irani expressed her gratitude to FDCI for the initiative.

"The Indian fashion industry is the pride of the Indian textile industry. Today those who weave dreams onto a cloth are weaving together a support group. My gratitude to the Fashion Design Council of India, ably led by Sunil Sethi, for coming up with a Covid-19 fund.

"I'm hopeful that the fund which will come together with the assistance of designers, design houses and other organisations affiliated to them will help us tide through these challenging times," Irani said in a video message.

"My belief is together we can and we will meet all these challenges head on. As the minister of textiles, I can only say this that you will find us standing shoulder-to-shoulder through your challenges so that together we can work towards a solution," the minister added.

The Fashion Design Council of India has started a support fund to provide financial assistance to small businesses and young designers in need amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Covid-19 Support Fund is an initiative by the council to aid individuals and craftspersons among others in these difficult times.

"... Unfortunately, not everyone is left with ample reserves to wade through this period of crisis. Smaller businesses (with tremendous potential) are run like a one-person-army; one individual taking care of a team of craftsmen, playing the role of a manufacturer, sales person, accountant, promoting and providing for his/her little family and bursting with ideas. A lot of them are not in a position (or have the luxury of time) to process formal paper-works to seek support from banks / financial institutions.

"We, as a fraternity, are what we are because of each one of our designers; their passion is our driving force and with a little support we can lend them some strength to spring back on their feet sooner than later," Sunil Sethi, FDCI chairman, said in a statement on the council's official website.

Minister of Textiles, Smriti Irani expressed her gratitude to FDCI for the initiative.

"The Indian fashion industry is the pride of the Indian textile industry. Today those who weave dreams onto a cloth are weaving together a support group. My gratitude to the Fashion Design Council of India, ably led by Sunil Sethi, for coming up with a Covid-19 fund.

"I'm hopeful that the fund which will come together with the assistance of designers, design houses and other organisations affiliated to them will help us tide through these challenging times," Irani said in a video message.

"My belief is together we can and we will meet all these challenges head on. As the minister of textiles, I can only say this that you will find us standing shoulder-to-shoulder through your challenges so that together we can work towards a solution," the minister added.

India partially lifts ban on export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine

India has decided to partially lift a ban on export of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, paving the way for its supply to the US and several other countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

Government officials said India would export hydroxychloroquine and paracetamol on a case-by-case basis to the countries which have already placed orders for them after meeting the domestic requirements.

The decision to partially lift the ban on hydroxychloroquine came to the fore hours after US President Donald Trump warned of retaliation if India does not heed to his request to supply the drug, cited by him as a viable therapeutic solution to fight coronavirus infection.

In a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, Trump sought supply of hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) to the US.

"In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and HCQ in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities," said Anurag Srivastava, Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs.

"We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations which have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic," he added, responding to queries on the issue.

On March 25, India banned export of hydroxychloroquine in the midst of views in some quarters that the drug could be used to fight COVID-19. India is the largest exporter of the drug.

It is learnt that high-ranking officials of India and the US were engaged over the issue of supply HCQ to the US by certain Indian companies following telephonic conversation between Modi and Trump and the decision to ease restrictions on export of the drug was result of a process.

The assessment in the government on Trump's comment on "retaliation" is that his response was not pre-meditated and that it was an instantaneous reaction by the US President when put on the spot.

There was indication that the decision to lift the partial ban on the two drugs was taken at a high-level meeting last night.

Hydroxychloroquine is and inexpensive drug used to treat malaria. India is the largest producer of the drug globally.

Officials said India would export the drug on a case-by-case basis after meeting all the domestic requirements.

"India has always maintained that the international community must display strong solidarity and cooperation. This approach also guided our evacuation of nationals of other countries," Srivastava said.

India is learnt to have received requests from at least 20 countries including its immediate neighbours Sri Lanka and Nepal for supply of hydroxychloroquine.

"Like any responsible government, our first obligation is to ensure that there are adequate stocks of medicines for the requirement of our own people," the MEA spokesperson said.

In order to ensure this, he explained, some "temporary steps" were taken to restrict exports of a number of pharmaceutical products. He said a comprehensive assessment was carried out about possible requirements of various drugs under different scenarios.

"After having confirmed the availability of medicines for all possible contingencies currently envisaged, these restrictions have been largely lifted," he said.

He said the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has notified lifting of restrictions on 14 drugs on Monday.

"With regard to paracetamol and hydroxychloroquine, they will be kept in a licensed category and their demand position would be continuously monitored," Srivastava said.

"However, the stock position could allow our companies to meet the export commitments that they had contracted, he said

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has recommended the hydroxychloroquine for those involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

The Trump administration has already created a national strategic stockpile of 29 million doses of the malaria drug, anticipating that its test results on more than 1,500 COVID-19 patients in New York is yielding positive results.

Global scientists, racing against time to find either a vaccine or a therapeutic cure to the virus, have begun testing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as options for potential COVID-19 treatments.

The US Food and Drug Administration last week issued an Emergency Use Authorisation for the prescription of the drug in certain circumstances.

In addition to New York, COVID-19 patients in several States are being treated with hydroxychloroquine, including Michigan and Texas.

According to Trump, the drug is yielding positive results. If successful, he said that it would be a gift from heaven.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that India must help all countries in their fight against coronavirus but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians first in a reference to the government's decision to allow export of hydroxychloroquine to several nationan.

"Friendship isn't about retaliation. India must help all nations in their hour of need but lifesaving medicines should be made available to Indians in ample quantities first," he said on Twitter.

8 travelers test positive in Latur, 7 booked for disobedience

Seven people have been booked in Latur in Maharashtra for not informing authorities about 12 Andhra Pradesh residents who traveled from Haryana and took shelter in a mosque in Nilanga here during the lockdown, eight of whom later tested positive for novel coronavirus, police said on Tuesday.

The 12, hailing from Kurnool in AP, had attended a religious gathering in Ferozepur Jhirka and then arrived by a private vehicle in Nilanga, and were apprehended by police on Friday, officials said said.

Eight of them tested positive for the virus next day and are undergoing treatment, they added.

"Even if they stayed just for the night, the people managing the religious place should have informed authorities.

Since they did not, a case has been registered against seven people at Nilanga police station," Inspector Anil Chomale.

He said the seven are quarantined in Nilanga.

Police officer Rajesh Babu wears a helmet representing the coronavirus, and requests commuters to stay home during the 21-day countrywide lockdown that began Wednesday in Chennai, India, Saturday, March 28, 2020.
Police officer Rajesh Babu wears a helmet representing the coronavirus, and requests commuters to stay home during the 21-day countrywide lockdown that began Wednesday in Chennai, India, Saturday, March 28, 2020. AP

One more death in Tamil Nadu; tally 69

A 64-year old woman died of COVID-19 in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday taking the toll due to the disease to seven in the state while 69 more people tested positive as the tally rose to 690, a top health department official said.

The woman, who died at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital here, had co-morbid conditions like hypertension and diabetes, Health Secretary Beela Rajesh said.

With this, the number of COVID-19 deaths in the state has risen to seven.

Of the new positive cases, as many as 63 were returnees of the jamaat meet held in Delhi's Nizamuddin area recently, she said.

2 test positive in Bihar; tally 34

Two women from Siwan district in Bihar tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, taking the total number of coronavirus cases in the state to 34, a top official said.

Principal Secretary of Health Sanjay Kumar said the women, aged 45 and 22, had come in contact with a COVID-19 patient from the district who had travelled to the Middle East and returned on March 21. It was not immediately known whether they were all related to each other.

However, the number of active cases in the state has dropped further to 18 with five patients from Patna, Munger and Siwan districts having recovered, he said.

The state witnessed the sharpest decline in the number of active cases between Sunday and Monday when no one tested positive even though as many as six persons, including a woman, were discharged from hospitals after recovery.

Seven virus hotspots identified in Bengal: CM

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday said her government has identified seven COVID-19 hotspots in the state and was taking necessary measures to break the cycle of transmission.

Banerjee also said that the death toll in the state has risen to five, while the number of active cases stands at 69. On Tuesday, eight new coronavirus cases were reported.

"We have identified seven COVID-19 hotspots in the state. We are taking appropriate action," Banerjee said without divulging the names of the vulnerable areas.

The chief minister also said that she was weighing the option of providing "limited relaxation" on the work front for unorganised sector workers, who were among the worst hit by the lockdown.

"We are mulling the idea of allowing limited relaxations in some unorganized sectors. We will also allow Kisan Mandi to operate but everyone has to adhere to the social distancing norms," she added.

9 new cases in Kerala; tally 263

Nine people tested positive for coronavirus in Kerala on Tuesday, taking the total number of active cases to 263.

Of this, the worst affected Kasaragod reported four cases, Kannur three, Kollam and Malappuram one each, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters here after a review meeting on COVID-19.

Samples of 12 people returned negative for the deadly virus on Tuesday, he said.

While four of the nine people had returned from abroad, two had attended the Tablighi Jamaat conference in Delhi and the others contracted the virus through contacts with infected people.

The total number of COVID cases in the state has touched 336.

As many as 1.40 lakh people are under observation in the state with 752 in various hospitals.

3 more test positive in Aurangabad; tally 14

Three more persons, two of them close relatives of a deceased COVID-19 patient, have tested positive for coronavirus in Maharashtra's Aurangabad district, taking the number of infections to 14 on Tuesday, an official said.

However, the new patients do not have severe symptoms of the viral disease, he said.

Two of them are from the family of a 58-year-old man who succumbed to the infection on Monday at the Government Medical College and Hospital here, district nodal officer Sundar Kulkarni told PTI.

The number of coronavirus positive cases in other major cities of the Marathwada region are: Latur (8), Osmanabad (3), Hingoli and Jalna (1 each), officials said. 

People stand in painted circles to maintain safe distance and collect essential food items during the nationwide lockdown imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, in Patna, Tuesday, April 7, 2020
People stand in painted circles to maintain safe distance and collect essential food items during the nationwide lockdown imposed in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, in Patna, Tuesday, April 7, 2020 PTI

Hyderabad: Constable tests positive, 17 cops in quarantine

A head constable of the city police has tested positive of coronavirus, officials said on Tuesday.

The 56-year-old constable attached to Saifabad police station is undergoing treatment at a state-run hospital in Hyderabad, they said.

"The constable was admitted to the hospital on late Saturday evening and on Monday evening his test report confirmed he was infected with COVID-19," they said.

The policeman's family members were also under quarantine at the hospital.

Samples of the constable's primary and secondary contacts were collected, they said adding samples of as many as 17 police personnel in the Saifabad police station were collected and they were asked to be under self-quarantine.

It was still being ascertained on how the constable was infected with the deadly virus, they said.

Over 22K relief camps functional to help needy citizens, Centre informs SC

Over 22,000 government-run relief camps are functional in 578 districts of the country to provide shelter and food to needy citizens during 21-day nationwide lockdown to curb spread of COVID-19, the Centre informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The Centre stated this in its status report in response to the PIL filed by activists Harsh Mander and Anjali Bhardwaj, seeking enforcement of fundamental right to life for migrant workers and payment of wages to them as they have been left without work or food following the lockdown.

The report, filed by additional secretary Gyanesh Kumar of Ministry of Home Affairs, gave facts and figures on relief camps, shelter homes and food camps run by several state governments and NGOs and said several lakhs of needy people are getting food and shelter in such centres.

Seeking dismissal of the PIL, the Centre said that all stakeholders are working in coordination and taking "pro-active and pre-emptive steps" to deal with the situations.

"The Central Government has taken pro-active and pre-emptive steps to first deal with the emergent priority existing then viz. containing the spread of Corona Virus in the country.

"As compared to the position in several parts of the world, the proactive, continuously monitored and pre-emptive steps taken by the Central Government and all the State Government have been successful and the spread of virus is at its minimum," the report said.

It said that in 578 districts of the country, 22,567 relief camps are run by governments and 3,909 by several NGOs and in them, over one crore needy citizens have taken shelter and are getting food also. The report also said that over 17,000 food camps are operational in the country and people get food there.

It also said over 15 lakh people have been given shelter and food by their respective employers during this lockdown.

"I state that while it is the responsibility of the Central Government and all State Governments to ensure protection of every section of this society, which the Central Government and all State Governments are discharging scrupulously, the present petition may not be entertained ...," the MHA officer said.

It said the PIL was "bereft of any facts and is based on some newspaper reports".

The Centre and all state governments are doing their best strategizing all human resources and other resources to come out of this unprecedented global crisis, it said adding that during this "unprecedented crisis", such a plea should not be entertained.

Municipal corporation workers sanitise a residential area in an effort to limit the spread of coronovirus, during the nationwide lockdown, in Coimbatore, Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Municipal corporation workers sanitise a residential area in an effort to limit the spread of coronovirus, during the nationwide lockdown, in Coimbatore, Tuesday, April 7, 2020 PTI

Retailers expect around 80,000 job losses: survey

Around 80,000 jobs expected to be cut by various retailers due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey by industry body RAI.

Retailers Association of India (RAI) had conducted a survey of 768 retailers, which employ 3,92,963 people across India, to gauge their view on the impact of Covid-19 on their business and manpower.

"Small retailers are expecting to lay-off 30 per cent of their manpower going forward, this number falls to 12 per cent for medium (sized) retailers and 5 per cent for large retailers. On the whole, retailers who responded to the survey expect layoff of about 20 per cent of their manpower," RAI said.

The expectation of retrenchment of 20 per cent of employees by those featured in the survey amounts to 78,592 people.

According to the industry body, small retailers featured in the survey employ less than 100 persons and accounted for 65 per cent of the respondents. Medium retailers have 100 1,000 employees making up for 24 per cent of respondents, while large retailers employ over 1,000 people and accounted for 11 per cent of the respondents.

SpiceJet to operate 5 flights for transporting vital supplies on Tuesday

Budget carrier SpiceJet has said it will be operating five in-cabin cargo flights on Tuesday, using a passenger aircraft, to transport vital supplies to various parts of the country amid the lockdown.

Since March 27, various air operators, including Air India and its subsidiary Alliance Air have been operating cargo flights, using the belly space of the passenger plane, under Lifeline Udan initiative of the Central government, which is aimed at transportation of medical cargo and essential supplies across India at the time of the COVID-19 crisis.

However, the private airlines are conducting such flights on a commercial basis.

"SpiceJet has operated the country's first cargo-on-seat flight carrying vital supplies in the passenger cabin of a Boeing 737 and its belly space from Delhi to Chennai with due regulatory approvals on Tuesday," the airline claimed in a release.

The aircraft will do five rotations on Tuesday ensuring that vital supplies are delivered in the shortest possible time, it said, adding the aircraft flew from Delhi to Chennai.

From Chennai it operated to Surat and from Surat it operated back to Chennai. The aircraft will operate from Chennai to Mumbai and from Mumbai to Delhi later on Tuesday with cargo on-board, it said.

SpiceJet's dedicated cargo arm, SpiceXpress has been regularly transporting surgical supplies, sanitizers, face masks, among others and providing doorstep deliveries of essential supplies, medicines and medical equipment across cities.

Pune death toll rises to 8

Three more persons succumbed to the coronavirus disease in Pune on Tuesday, taking the toll the Maharashtra district to eight, an official said.

All the three patients were above 60 years of age and suffered from other co-morbid health conditions, District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said.

They were undergoing treatment to the state-run Sassoon General Hospital where they died on Tuesday, he added.

A man sits alone at the window of a Chawl during a lockdown to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus at Lower Parel area in Mumbai, India, Sunday, April 5, 2020
A man sits alone at the window of a Chawl during a lockdown to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus at Lower Parel area in Mumbai, India, Sunday, April 5, 2020 AP
North MCD workers sanitise a locality in Model Town area to contain the spread of coronavirus, during the ongoing nationwide lockdown, in New Delhi, Monday, April 6, 2020
North MCD workers sanitise a locality in Model Town area to contain the spread of coronavirus, during the ongoing nationwide lockdown, in New Delhi, Monday, April 6, 2020 PTI

Andhra death toll rise to 4

A 45-year old person died of coronavirus in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh, taking the toll to four even as one more case of Covid-19 was reported overnight.

The total number of coronavirus cases in the state has now touched 304 while the active cases remained at 294, according to the bulletin issued by the Medical and Health Department on Tuesday.

The 45-year old person in Kurnool did not have any travel history but was admitted to the government hospital with symptoms of Covid-19 on April 1.

He was said to be suffering from Type-2 diabetes and died on April 3, according to the state nodal officer Arja Srikanth.

The person, who died tested positive for coronavirus, the official said.

In all, six patients have recovered from the disease and been discharged from hospitals.