Biggest jump in deaths, number of cases in 24 hours
35 new deaths, 773 fresh cases reported; Modi holds discussions with floor leaders; Shab-e-Barat congregation banned in Srinagar
- Published 8.04.20, 12:04 PM
- Updated 8.04.20, 6:55 PM
- 14 mins read
The Union health ministry said on Wednesday that 32 people have died and 773 persons have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in India since Tuesday, taking the death toll due to COVID-19 to 149 and cases to 5,194 so far.
Going by the health ministry's data, the increase in number of cases between 9 AM on Tuesday and 9 AM on Wednesday is the highest in a 24-hour period.
However, a PTI tally of the figures reported by various states as on Tuesday 9.45 pm showed at least 162 deaths in the country due to COVID-19.
As the number of cases of coronavirus infections are rising in the country, the Centre's response and preparedness in coordination with the states is being intensified accordingly, Joint Secretary in the health ministry Lav Agarwal said while addressing the daily briefing at 4 PM to provide updates on the COVID-19 situation in the country.
Talking about strategies initiated in Maharashtra, which has registered the highest number of deaths so far, Agarwal said a door-to door survey is being conducted in a 35 square kilometer area in Pune Central and Kondhwa region as part of which teams of health workers are checking on persons with co-morbidities like diabetes and hypertension and if they had contact with an infected patient or any history of travel abroad.
"Pune district sealed the central region of Pune and Kondhwa area effectively and carried out door-to-door survey of homes located across 35 sq km area. The team is also checking persons with co-morbidity like diabetes and hypertension apart from travel history and contact tracing," according to a statement.
Similarly, required efforts are being made by the administration in terms of surveillance and contact tracing in Pathanamthitta in Kerala.
He said early identification is a key to the management of COVID-19.
Agarwal said that a major area of concern for them was that even asymptomatic people as carriers may pass on the infection to other people and stressed on following the social distancing and infection prevention and control practices in hospital setups.
"We are here dealing with a huge challenge of COVID-19 and a major area of our concern is that not only the symptomatic even the asymptomatic people, though the percentage is very less as carriers, may pass on the infection to other people," he said, adding, "In hospitals, the focus should be on to ensure infection prevention and control practices are followed so that health workers aren't infected."
Stating COVID-19 is an infectious disease, the official sought the support of the public in following the social distancing measures and lockdown.
Stating that states have been asked to continue its focus on surveillance and contact tracing as well as on building hospital infrastructure, Agarwal said, "We working with a twin approach -- focusing on social distancing and then implementing containment measures."
"Even if we see the day-to day fluctuations, but in terms of over all rise in the cases in the country some impact is there. But then again it's an everyday battle and even because of one failure all our efforts may go into waste."
He further said technology was being used to monitor clusters and households in quarantine.
Over the availability of hydroxychloroquine in the country, Agarwal said the the whole situation is being monitored at the highest level in terms of the requirement of the country linking it with the fact that how much is the production and also the API availability in the country.
"It is ensured that not only today that even in future there will not any lack of hydroxychloroquine and there sufficient stock of the drug is available in the country," he said, adding the drug is not recommended for everyday, has side effects and should be taken only when prescribed by a doctor.
Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases at ICMR Raman R Gangakhedkar said that 1,21,271 tests for COVID-19 have been done in the country so far.
Out of these 13,345 tests were conducted yesterday and 2267 tests out of that have been done in private labs. He said 139 labs under the ICMR network are currently functional and 65 private have been given approval.
When asked why larger number of deaths are being reported in Maharashtra, Khedkar said, "We cannot decide on the basis of absolute numbers where more deaths or less deaths are happening. If you see the death number (in the country) is so small that nobody can say that the number of deaths in Maharashtra is significantly high. It could be a chance event and it should be seen from that perspective."
Agarwal further said that the focus is on building a large scale work force across the country and in this direction doctors, nurses and paramedics, technicians and frontline workers are being provided training online to build their capacity.
He informed that the ministry of health in collaboration with AIIMS will launch training modules for physicians treating suspected or confirmed pregnant women to provide them with technical guidance on antenatal care and labour management.
Gujarat to provide free ration to 60 lakh APL families
The Gujarat government on Wednesday said that during the ongoing lockdown it will provide free ration to around 60 lakh Above Poverty Line (APL) families in the state that are not covered under the National Food Security Act.
Each APL-1 card holder family will be eligible to get 10 kg wheat, three kg rice, one kg pulses and one kg sugar free of cost.
This decision was taken during a cabinet meeting held on Wednesday.
The government has also distributed free ration to around 65 lakh families holding either priority ration cards or Antyodaya ration cards.
Rajasthan govt to open mandis in phased manner from April 15
The Rajasthan government on Wednesday decided to open mandis (vegetable markets) for procurement of agriculture commodities from farmers on minimum support price from April 15.
The decision was taken by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot after a review meeting with state ministers and officials through video conferencing.
He directed the officials to open the mandis from April 15 in a phased manner while ensuring there is no crowd in the markets. He also called for effective implementation of social distancing protocol in view of the safety of people.
Farmers' interest is important for us. It should also be ensured that there is no crowd in mandis and that social distancing is maintained in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, a release quoting the chief minister said.
The procurement of agricultural produce will take place at nearly 800 places in the state, the release said.
Situation akin to 'social emergency', has necessitated tough decisions: PM to leaders
The situation in the country is akin to a "social emergency" and it has necessitated tough decisions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told political leaders on the COVID-19 outbreak as he asserted that the priority of his government is to "save each and every life".
Interacting with floor leaders of opposition and other parties in Parliament via video conferencing on Wednesday, the prime minister said, "We must continue to remain vigilant."
"The situation in the country is akin to a social emergency...it has necessitated tough decisions and we must continue to remain vigilant," Modi told the leaders, according to an official statement.
States, district administrations and experts have suggested extension of the ongoing lockdown beyond April 14 to contain the spread of the virus, the prime minister said.
Leaders provided feedback, suggested policy measures, discussed the 21-day lockdown and the way forward, according to the statement.
The death toll due to the novel coronavirus rose to 149 and the number of cases climbed to 5,194 in the country on Wednesday, according to the Union Health Ministry.
Wearing masks must in public places in Mumbai: BMC
Amidst growing cases of COVID-19, the Mumbai civic body on Wednesday made wearing of masks at public places compulsory, an official release stated.
Issuing a circular, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) also warned of arrest under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for flouting its order.
"All persons moving out for whatever purpose and for whatever reason in public places like streets, hospitals, offices, markets etc must wear mask or cloth mask," it stated.
All virus hotspots in 15 districts to be sealed till Apr 15: UP govt
The Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday said all COVID-19 hotspots in 15 districts of the state will be sealed till April 15 to check the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
"All coronavirus hotspots in 15 districts will be completely sealed till April 15 morning. Only home delivery will be allowed. These are places where a number of COVID-19 cases have been found," Director, Information Shishir told PTI.
These hotspots will be identified by the evening, Additional Chief Secretary, Information, Awanish Awasthi said.
One more death in Karnataka; toll 5
A 65-year-old man died of coronavirus in Kalaburagi district on Wednesday, taking the toll to five, while six new positive cases were confirmed in the state, pushing the tally to 181, the health department said.
The man with Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI), died at a designated hospital in the district, where he was undergoing treatment, it said.
"6 new positive cases have been reported from last evening to this noon.... Till date 181 COVID-19 positive cases have been confirmed. This includes 5 deaths and 28 discharges," the department said in its mid-day situation reported.
The six fresh cases reported included the elderly man from Kalaburagi.
69 people booked for violating lockdown in UP
The police have registered cases against 69 people here for violating the lockdown orders, officials said on Wednesday.
Superintendent of Police (city) Prabal Pratap Singh said, "Cases were registered against 69 persons for moving in the city without masks, not maintaining social distancing and also not adhering to the lockdown orders."
Notice have also been pasted on the houses of the 69 people.
Snowman Logistics says warehouses fully operational
Snowman Logistics on Wednesday said all its warehouses are fully operational amid the nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
"The business of Snowman Logistics Ltd (Snowman) is considered under the essential services' category as per the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and accordingly all the warehouses of the Company are functional and fully operational," the company said in a filing to BSE.
The company remains committed to providing support for the storage and distribution of essential goods, especially food and pharmaceutical products, it added.
The business of the company has not been adversely affected and demand for storage has increased, the filing said.
This increase has come in from various segments such as seafood, meat, poultry, butter and healthcare products.
Fire tender vehicles to be used for sanitation in UP
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday flagged off fire tender vehicles to be be used for sanitisation purpose in 66 tehsils of the state, the UP Government said in a statement issued here.
"Almost 10 days back, the DGP and Additional Chief Secretary (Home) were told that if the fire tender vehicles are used for sanitisation purpose, then it will help to free the villages and cities from the infection. The modern fire tender is equipped with the latest technology, and they will be engaged in sanitisation works to get rid of coronavirus, Adityanath said.
The chief minister also said that these fire tenders will be used to save people from incidents of widespread fire (reported when the temperature rises) and for sanitisation purposes to combat COVID-19, the statement said.
AIIMS issues guidelines on reuse of PPE, citing depletion of stocks
The AIIMS has released guidelines for the reuse of PPE, citing their fast depletion of stocks in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, while stressing that the methods for disinfection should only be considered as extraordinary last-resort methods in the event of an imminent shortages of such kits.
According to the AIIMS guidelines, decontamination of PPE kits for the purpose of reuse is currently not recommended, primarily because of concerns that it would degrade the performance, especially of the respirator.
But then, decontamination and reuse of PPE kits may provide another solution by extending the existing on-hand supplies, the guidelines say.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has strained our resources tremendously in the healthcare setting. One of the most urgent issues is the fast depletion of personal protective equipment (PPE) used in the care of patients. This is a significant concern for healthcare workers' health and safety," the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) said.
Healthcare workers across the country have highlighted the paucity of PPE, including coveralls, goggles, masks, gloves and shoe covers among others.
Hospitality firms launch slew of initiatives
Leading hospitality firms ITC Hotels, Radisson Hotel Group and Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels are taking a slew of initiatives to serve healthcare providers and community at large in times of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Leveraging its rich expertise in food and hospitality services, the key initiative of ITC Hotels has been food distribution across cities based on the requirements of the local administration as well as hospitals, the company said in a statement.
ITC Hotels remains fully committed to serving national priorities during this unprecedented situation, the statement said.
In similar vein, Radisson Hotel Group is also contributing in a number of ways to support the government and the community in the fight against COVID-19.
Hospitality firm Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd (ASPHL) also said it is committed to working with communities and being responsive to their needs in the time of crisis.
The Park Hotels has launched a initiative, #THEParkHeartofHope, to provide a helping hand to its guests and neighbours, the company said in a statement.
The Park Bangalore, THE Park Chennai, THE Park Calangute Goa, THE Park Baga River Goa and THE Park Hyderabad are doing neighbourhood services for all their neighbours and especially for senior citizens, it added.
Doctors, healthcare workers are warriors, have to be protected, SC to Centre
Doctors and healthcare professionals are "warriors" in fight against coronavirus and have to be protected, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday even as the Centre assured that it is doing its best by providing them personal protective equipment (PPE) and other facilities.
The apex court suggested that the government should create a mechanism to solicit suggestions from people about how to go ahead on the issues related to COVID-19, including on providing treatment, regulatory mechanism for people working from home and also on lockdown.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat, hearing through video-conferencing three petitions seeking protective kits for doctors and healthcare workers amid coronavirus pandemic, was informed by the Centre that PPE kits and other requisite things are being arranged and it is taking steps in this regard.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who made it clear that he was not opposing the prayers made in these petitions, told the bench that doctors and healthcare professionals are "corona warriors" and government is ensuring their protection and safety along with their family members.
He also denied reports about salary cut of doctors and staffs of hospitals and said the Centre would write to all the states that no salary should be deducted for purchase of PPEs and masks.
"If anybody is doing something like this (salary cut of doctors and staffs), we will send police," Mehta told the bench, adding, "as an institutional response, we are doing this".
"The government and police will walk extra mile to protect doctors," Mehta said and added that to ensure safety of family members, doctors are being housed in hotels also.
All religious gatherings banned in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack
The Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Commissionerate of Police has banned all religious gatherings in the twin cities in view of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The police said religious leaders have also come forward and appealed to people against any gathering in mosques and kabarstan in connection with Sab-e-Barat on April 9.
"In view of #COVID19 pandemic & related Rules/ Guidelines, no religious congregation will be allowed anywhere in @cpbbsrctc. Happy to know that the religious leaders have come forward appealing against gathering in Mosques & Kabarstan in connection with Sab-E-Barat on 9th April," the official handle of Commissionerate Police tweeted.
The state government is now more vigilant on religious gathering following such an event at Nizamuddin in Delhi. The COVID-19 spread in a big way from the Nizamuddin congregation, an official said.
The official said, a 60-year-old man from Suryanagar, who is presently under treatment at AIIMS, Bhubaneswar, had arranged a "puja" at his residence before he was identified as a COVID-19 patient. At least nine persons having Surya Nagar link have so far been detected positive to COVID-19.
Of the 42 coronavirus positive cases reported from the state, 34 alone are from Bhubaneswar.
FIR against Congress MLA for violating lockdown
An FIR has been registered against local Congress MLA Siddharth Kushwaha and seven others for allegedly defying CrPC Section 144, which bans assembly of four or more people, during the lockdown, police said on Wednesday.
The MLA led a protest near Nai Basti area of Satna in Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday, in violation of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) and the lockdown enforced in the district, police inspector Mohit Saxena said.
Details of the protest that Kushwaha led were not immediately known.
"We have booked eight persons, including Kushwaha, under relevant provisions of the India Penal Code and the Disaster Management Act," the police official said.
Efforts were on to identify others involved in the protest, he said.
Modi holds discussion with floor leaders
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday held a meeting with floor leaders of opposition and other parties in Parliament to discuss the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic and the government's efforts to contain the fast-spreading virus in the country.
The interaction was held through video conferencing and those participated, included Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha, and Nationalist Congress Party head Sharad Pawar.
Sources said, these leaders were briefed by secretaries of various ministries---health, home and rural development ---on the actions taken by the government to tackle COVID-19 and mitigate the hardships arising out of the lockdown.
Several opposition leaders raised the issue of shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health workers in the country while few also suggested that construction of the new parliament building should be avoided, a source said.
The meet comes amidst indications that the Central government may extend the lockdown across the country beyond April 14 after several states have favoured the extension to contain the fast-spreading virus, as the positive cases in the country show no signs of any let up.
As per the Union health ministry's Wednesday morning update, there are 149 deaths and 5,194 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country even as the country entered its third week of nationwide lockdown.
Scribe among 6 who tested positive in Bhopal
Six more people tested positive for coronavirus in Bhopal, taking the number of such cases in the Madhya Pradesh capital to 91, officials said on Wednesday.
The six new patients include a journalist working with a news channel, a public relations department official said.
He possibly contracted the infection from a police officer who earlier tested positive for coronavirus, the official said.
Out of the total 91 patients, one died while two have so far been discharged after recovery, Bhopals Chief Medical and Health Officer Sudhir Deharia said.
Nearly 45 of the Covid-19 patients here are health workers and 12 are police personnel and their families, another official said.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has directed the officials concerned to completely seal the borders of Bhopal and Indore, which are affected more by the disease as compared to other districts in the state.
So far, 173 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Indore and 16 of them died.
Crisil postpones AGM
Credit rating firm Crisil on Wednesday said it has postponed its annual general meeting, which was scheduled for later this month, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The company's 33rd annual general meeting (AGM) was to be held on April 21.
"The prevailing lockdown and restrictions on mass congregations in Mumbai, which commenced on March 21, 2020 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, constrained the company from fully completing the dispatch of physical copies of the annual report to our shareholders," Crisil said in a regulatory filing.
The company will announce a new date for the AGM in due course, it said.
Shab-e-Barat congregation banned in Srinagar
Strict restrictions on the movement of people in Kashmir to contain the spread of coronavirus were in force for the 21st consecutive day on Wednesday even as authorities in the city banned religious congregations on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat.
Officials said tight curbs were in place across the valley in view of the surge in the number of positive cases in Kashmir.
In view of the prevailing health situation, district magistrate Srinagar Shahid Iqbal Choudhary has issued an order prohibiting all sorts of religious congregations and public movement on the occasion of Shab-e-Barat in Srinagar.
Shab-e-Barat, also known as the night of forgiveness, will be observed on April 8-9. Members of the Muslim community visit graveyards and offer prayers in memory of their loved ones.
The order issued under Section 144 of CrPC states that the decision to prohibit religious gatherings during the occasion has been taken based on recommendations of authorities and reports from the field besides taking into account the current precarious health situation due to Covid-19 pandemic.
It states that these restrictions will remain enforced through the intervening night of April 8 and 9, adding that violations will attract strict action under Section 188 of the IPC and Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act.
Restrictions were first imposed in many parts of the valley on March 19 to contain the spread of the virus infection. The measures were taken after a 67-year-old woman from Khanyar area of the city, who had returned on 16 March from Saudi Arabia after performing Umrah, tested positive for Covid-19 infection.
The authorities have started an aggressive contact tracing campaign across the Union territory to contain the spread of the infection.
The total number of positive cases in Jammu and Kashmir has gone up to 125, while three patients have died.
Andhra tally reaches to 329
Fifteen new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Andhra Pradesh since last night, taking the total number of infected to 329, health department officials said on Wednesday.
The total number of Covid-19 cases in the state now touched 329 while the active cases were 319, the latest bulletin said.
Of the 15 cases, six each from SPS Nellore and Krishna districts while three were reported in Chittoor district.
With 74 cases, Kurnool topped the chart in the state followed by SPS Nellore with 49, Guntur with 41 and Krishna 35.
In all, six patients had recovered from the disease and been discharged from hospitals while four have died so far.