Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a three-week national lockdown to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
As of 8:45 am on Wednesday, there were 562 confirmed cases of the coronavirus infection in India.
The health ministry also revised the death toll due to COVID-19 in the country down to nine, saying the second death reported in Delhi was not due to the disease.
However, the tenth case was reported on Wednesday morning, when a patient in Tamil Nadu died.
Of the nine deaths, two are from Maharashtra, one each from Bihar, Karnataka, Gujarat, Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh.
According to the data, the number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 512 while 41 people have been cured/discharged or migrated. The figure includes 43 foreign nationals.
New cases continued to be reported across the world. On Wednesday evening, the total confirmed cases in the world stands at 435,006.
Close to 19,625 people have died because of the disease, with Italy reporting almost 7,000 of them.
China, which has reported fewer infections over the past week, has seen 3,160 deaths. The death toll in Spain has been rising rapidly and crossed that of China’s, touching 3,434 on Wednesday.
170 regions or countries have now reported confirmed cases of the infection.
Fresh guidelines on lockdown exemptions
The home ministry on Wednesday issued fresh guidelines covering additional people and services who will be exempted from the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In the new guidelines, the ministry said Reserve Bank of India and RBI-regulated financial markets, pay and accounts officers and field officers of the CAG, petroleum products and supply chain and forest staff are exempted from the purview of the lockdown.
Those people handling cargo operations in airports and railway stations, coal mining activities, officers and staff of resident commissioners based in Delhi and customs clearance at ports, airports and land borders are also exempted.
Forest offices staff and workers required to operate and maintain zoo, nurseries, wildlife, fire fighting in forests, watering plantations, patrolling and their necessary transport movement, social welfare department staff for operations of homes for children, disabled, senior citizens, destitute women, widows, observation homes and pensions service are also exempted, the guidelines said.
National Disaster Management Act invoked
The Union Home Ministry has issued strict guidelines for the enforcement of 21-day complete nationwide lockdown from Wednesday in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, invoking the National Disaster Management Act which may result in imprisonment of up to two years for any violation.
Health is usually under the control of the states, the NDMA places the responsibility on the Centre.
Narendra Modi participates in ‘interactive’ session with Varanasi residents
Addressing members of his Lok Sabha constituency, Varanasi, Narendra Modi on Wednesday participated in an ongoing interactive session with residents of the town.
Extolling the virtues of the ancient city of Kashi, and the role played by Hindu god Shiv in strengthening it, Modi announced a helpdesk to combat the spread of the virus that the Centre has set up with WhatsApp.
“The number is 9013151515, you can message ‘Namaste’ here and you will start receiving updates here soon,” Modi said.
Modi was posed largely generic questions on social distancing and coronavirus by social activists and academics.
None of them focused on burning issues of essential services and supplies and harassment faced by people in the hands of police.
He, however, asked people to respect healthcare service providers and flight attendants and pilots.
COVID-19 deaths in Iran cross 2,000
Iran on Wednesday announced 143 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, raising the official death toll to 2,077.
The country has been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.
At least 250 Indian pilgrims who have tested positive for the disease are stranded in the Iranian city of Qom. At least two Indian nationals have died there because of the disease.
Iran’s health ministry spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 2,206 new cases of the infection have also been identified in the past 24 hours, bringing total infections to 27,017
Prince Charles tests positive
British royal family member Prince Charles has tested positive for the coronavirus infection, reports in the British press say.
Ensure security for doctors: Amit Shah tells Delhi police
Union home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday asked Delhi police commissioner S.N. Shrivastava to ensure that doctors do not face harassment in the wake of coronavirus.
His directive came hours after a presentation was sent to the minister about incidents of doctors being harassed by house owners, who claimed that the infectious disease could be spread through health workers.
According to NDTV, Shah asked the police commissioner to take “immediate action to stop any such incidents”.
Class I-IX students in TN to be promoted without writing exams
All students from first to ninth standard in Tamil Nadu will be promoted without writing exams, chief minister K. Palaniswami said on Wednesday.
Schools in the state have been shut to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and students will be unable to write their exams. Palaniswami said he ordered the School Education Department to announce that all students from the first to ninth standard will be promoted.
For students of Class XII who could not write the exam that was scheduled on March 24, exams will be held separately on a date which will be notified later, he said.
Mamata warns against ostracising doctors
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday held a press conference to inform of the modalities involved in the 21-day national lockdown called for by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mamata announced that essential service providers would be allowed free passage and asked police officers to be careful and not stop them, even across city and district borders.
“Often, orders are not translated properly downwards and people who are delivering goods and services are being held by police, please ensure this does not happen,” she told top cops at the press conference itself.
Announcing a state helpline for coronavirus related cases, Banerjee also spoke about the necessity to not alienate healthcare professionals and also people suffering from common fevers. “We cannot lose our humanity while practicing social distancing,” she said.
Bengal will also give beneficiaries of its several social pension schemes two months’ worth of pension.
Rations under the PDS system will be given for the whole month, announced Mamata.
Those violating lockdown will be liable for legal action: Health minister
People who defy the national lockdown shall be liable for legal action under Section 188 of the IPC (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), Union health minister Harsh Vardhan warned.
He also urged people not to panic during the period of quarantine.
NYU medical school allows students to graduate 3 months early
New York University’s medical school is allowing students to graduate three months early so they can be interns and join the fight against the coronavirus.
Tamil Nadu reports first death
A 54-year-old patient in Tamil Nadu died on Wednesday, marking the state’s first COVID-19 death.
The man, who is from Madurai, did not have any travel history. According to The News Minute, he tested positive on March 23.
In the early hours of Wednesday, Tamil Nadu’s health minister C. Vijayabaskar tweeted that the patient died.
“Despite our best efforts, the #COVID-19 +ve Pt at MDU, #RajajiHospital, passed away few minutes back. He had medical history of prolonged illness with steroid-dependent COPD, uncontrolled Diabetes with Hypertension,” he said.
Mizoram reports first case
A 50-year-old man from Aizawl with travel history to the Netherlands has the coronavirus infection, making him the state’s first confirmed case.
According to EastMojo, the patient’s wife and two children, who also travelled to Europe, have been kept at an isolation ward in Zoram Medical College (ZMC).
His sample was tested at the Gauhati Medical College & Hospital and was confirmed to be positive, health minister R. Lalthangliana said at a press meet in Aizawl.
This is the Northeast’s second case of the coronavirus infection, after Manipur on Tuesday reported its first case.
Telangana sets up a containment zone after two more test positive
Days after the son of a deputy superintendent of police (DSP) tested positive for the coronavirus in Bhadradri Kothagudem district of Telangana, two more people who came in contact with him have also contracted the disease.
The 57-year-old DSP and a person who works as the family’s cook have tested positive for COVID-19, according to reports.
The DSP’s son, who had returned from London via Dubai, had earlier tested positive. He had violated orders to isolate himself.
The DSP’s wife and two home guards have tested negative. With this, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 39.
Health department officials initiated containment measures in the residential areas of Bhadradri Kothagudem district and the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) areas of Ranga Reddy district.
According to The News Minute, at the Bhadradri Kothagudem district, the health department officials have set up a 3 km containment zone and a 7 km buffer zone.
At the GHMC area in Ranga Reddy district, where a containment zone of 1 km and a buffer zone of 3 km has been set up in the area.
Five new cases in Maharashtra
Maharashtra reported five new coronavirus cases since Tuesday night, taking the number of cases in the state to 112, the highest in the country so far.
The latest cases are from Sangli district, where five members of a family in Islampur tested positive.
“We are checking if the five have a recent travel history within India or outside,” an official said.
Ten more cases were detected in the state on Tuesday, and eight were confirmed late on Monday night.
Pakistan suspends domestic flights
Pakistan has suspended all domestic flight operations until April 2 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The country has nearly 1,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
According to a statement shared on the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority’s website, the government has “decided to suspend all types of domestic scheduled/non-scheduled, chartered and private aircraft passenger flight operations with effect from Thursday, March 26, at 6:00am up to April 02, 2020.”
Meanwhile, the country is in a state of complete lockdown and people have been told to remain inside their homes.
They are only allowed to go out in case of emergency.
The government has pledged to increase testing capability and other facilities in hospitals as new medical supplies are expected to start pouring in from China by Friday, according to NDMA chief Lt-Gen Muhammad Afzal, according to news agency PTI.
Three new cases in Gujarat
The number of COVID-19 cases in Gujarat stands at 38, after three more people tested positive on Wednesday.
One new case each was reported from Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara, principal secretary (health) Jayanti Ravi told reporters.
One patient has travel history to Dubai, while the two others are cases of local transmission of the viral infection.
In the state, Ahmedabad has reported 14 cases, while Surat and Vadodara have seven each.
There have been six confirmed cases in Gandhinagar, followed by three in Rajkot and one in Kutch.
Source - SCIENCETHEWIRE