Coronavirus latest updates: 652 deaths and 20,471 cases in India

Ghughuti Bulletin

NEW DELHI: India became the world’s 17th country to record 20,000
Covid-19 cases, crossing the grim milestone on a day when Maharashtra, Rajasthan and West Bengal recorded their biggest single-day rise in infections. There was a spike in deaths as well, with 49 in the last 24 hours, taking the toll to 652. The total number of cases in India stood at 20,471 on Wednesday.

However, according to the Union health ministry’s figures, there were 15,859 active cases in the country .

Here are the latest updates on the outbreak of coronavirus from India and around the world —
Treat all patients as suspect Covid-19 case: Govt to hospitals near containment zones
The Union health ministry in an advisory has suggested hospitals located in and around Covid-19 containment zones to treat all patients coming to them as suspected cases of coronavirus infection until proven otherwise and exercise standard care.

According to a ministry official, patients coming from containment areas should be tested for infection even if they do not show any symptom of Covid-19.

UK coronavirus death toll rises 759 to 18,100
A total of 18,100 people with coronavirus have died in hospital in Britain, new health ministry figures showed on Wednesday, up 759 from the previous day’s toll.

Health secretary Matt Hancock had earlier said that Britain was “at the peak” of its outbreak of Covid-19, one of the worst in the world.

Tuesday’s toll, which does not include care homes or deaths in the community, was 17,337, which would suggest a daily increase of 763. But officials said the historic data has been revised.

Amit Shah, Harsh Vardhan interact with doctors; assure security
Union minister of home affairs Amit Shah and Union minister of health and family welfare Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday interacted with doctors and senior representatives of the Indian Medical Association, and assured them that appropriate security will be provided to them.

In the interaction held through video conference, the two Union ministers allayed all concerns of the medical fraternity regarding their security in the fight against coronavirus.

PM to hold video conference with CMs on April 27
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with chief ministers via video conferencing on April 27 morning on the way ahead in the fight against coronavirus, official sources said on Wednesday.

This will be the third video conference of the Prime Minister with the chief ministers after the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

In the last interaction on April 11, several chief ministers had recommended extension of the 21-day lockdown by two weeks, which was slated to end on April 14 earlier.

Adopt measures to ensure safety of health workers: Centre to states
The Union health ministry on Wednesday advised chief secretaries of all states and Union territories to adopt adequate measures in ensuring the safety of health workers involved in Covid-19 services.

In a letter, Union health secretary Preeti Sudan said amongst all professionals, the skills and services of these health workers place them in a unique position of saving lives in these times of pandemic.

“States and UTs are advised to take up various measures including human resource and capacity building training, medical safety, staffing guideline and timely payments, psychological support, training of frontline workers and life insurance cover,” she said.

No action against employers if workers catch virus: Maharashtra government
The Maharashtra government on Wednesday refuted a report circulating on social media that employers or organisations could face action if employees contract coronavirus. There was no truth to the report, it said in a statement in Mumbai. A WhatsApp forward that was circulating claimed that a First Information Report (FIR) will be filed against the employer if workers/employees catch the virus, the statement said.

Government’s stringent law to protect healthcare workers
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday promulgated an ordinance to protect healthcare workers in order to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. The crime will now be cognizable and non-bailable. In case of grievous injuries to health workers, the accused can be sentenced from anywhere between 6 months to 7 years and can be fined Rs 1 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.

Patnaik delivers oath to 6798 village heads to keep their areas free from COVID-19
After bestowing the power of district collector to village heads, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday administered an oath to over 6700 Sarpanchs to work towards keeping their areas free from infection. The village heads from all the 6,798 Gram Panchayats took the pledge administered by the CM through video conferencing.

Will allow homeward journey of people stranded in UP: Adityanath
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday said their government will allow other states if they want to take home their residents stranded in Uttar Pradesh due to the coronavirus lockdown. He also said the students brought from Rajasthan’s Kota should be told to stay quarantined in their homes through the CM helpline 1076. The CM said he will personally contact them and enquire about their well being.

Civic official moots idea of adopting Dharavi families
In a bid to help Dharavi residents who are facing a financial crisis due to the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, BMC G-north ward assistant commissioner Kiran Dighavkar has come up with a novel concept of adopting families from the containment zones of Mumbai’s slum area for next few months. The idea is to ‘Adopt a Family’ from Dharavi slums, where the coronavirus cases have gone over 150. The cost of one family’s requirement of food grains, vegetables, edible oil, fruits and medicines for 15 days is around Rs 5,000, he said. “We are going to hold a meeting with local police officials to work out the plan, he added.

Punjab hotspot SBS Nagar now coronavirus-free
A 16-year-old was discharged Wednesday from a hospital in SBS Nagar district, where no infected person now remains under treatment. SBS Nagar was the first Punjab district to report a COVID-19 death. But the other 18 infected people have now been cured in what was initially regarded as a coronavirus hotspot. No infected patient is now left at the civil hospital, SBS Nagar civil surgeon Rajinder Prasad Bhatia told PTI. Seventeen coronavirus patients returned home earlier after they were fully cured of the virus.

India readying rapid response teams for Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan
A 14-member rapid response team was sent to Maldives last month to help the island nation set up coronavirus testing laboratories and train local medical professionals to fight the pandemic. India has assured all friendly neighbouring countries of all possible assistance to help them fight the pandemic.

146 Indian crew members stuck on cruise to disembark in Mumbai
As many as 146 Indian crew members stranded on a cruise ship due to the coronavirus pandemic, will disembark in Mumbai on Thursday, over a month after it set off from Thailand. The ship- Marila Discovery- had reached Mumbai coast on April 14 but were not allowed to enter the harbour. None of the people on-board have tested positive for the infection, Maharashtra chief minister office’s statement said.

Irdai allows insurers to collect health insurance premiums in instalments
Irdai has allowed insurers to collect health insurance premiums in instalments for products they deem appropriate, in view of the prevailing conditions due to COVID-19 outbreak, which has adversely affected economic activities.

Lockdown reveals fresh air, cleaner rivers in India
India’s extended lockdown to curb the coronavirus outbreak has shut down schools, workplaces, industries, transport, and forced people to stay home. It also led to an unexpected bonus in the country with six out of 10 of the world’s most polluted cities: cleaner air. On March 25, the first day of the lockdown, the average PM 2.5 levels decreased by 22% and nitrogen dioxide — which comes from burning fossil fuels — dropped by 15%

West Bengal says it will abide by Centre’s orders on lockdown
The West Bengal government has said “it is not a fact” that there was no cooperation with the Central team deputed to assess the COVID-19 situation in the state and gave an assurance that it will abide by all Union government orders on lockdown. The assurance came hours after the Centre accused the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government of obstructing a Central team deputed to assess the coronavirus ground situation.

China calls virus lawsuit brought by US state ‘very absurd’
Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the legal action has ‘no factual and legal basis at all’ and repeated China’s defense of its response to the outbreak, which has largely subsided in the country where it was first detected. Missouri’s top state prosecutor on Tuesday announced the lawsuit, which alleges that Chinese officials are to blame for the pandemic that has sickened around 2.5 million worldwide, thrown tens of millions out of work and devastated local economies, including in China.

Potential Covid-19 vaccine developed at Oxford to be tested on people this week
A potential vaccine against the coronavirus developed by the University of Oxford is set to be trialled on people for the first time on April 23, UK secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock said on Tuesday. “I can announce that the vaccine from the Oxford project will be trialled in people from this Thursday. In normal times, reaching this stage would take years and I am very proud of the work taken so far,” Hancock said.

Testing rate dropped from 35,000 to 27,500 due to China kit fiasco
With states complaining that the recently acquired rapid testing kits were delivering misleading and inaccurate results, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Tuesday advised all states to stop using the antibody test for Covid-19 for two days until its teams investigated the functioning of the kits. The kits had arrived last week after delays and have been sourced from three firms based in China. India’s testing rate has dropped from 35,000-odd on Monday to 27,500 on Tuesday following the fiasco.

US will have second wave of coronavirus: CDC chief
A second wave of the novel coronavirus will hit the US later this year with even more difficult ramifications than the current Covid-19 crisis that has claimed more than 45,000 lives and infected over 824,000 people in the country, a top American health official has warned. Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield told The Washington Post that the US will have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.

69% of cases found positive were asymptomatic: ICMR
Covid-19 tests that delivered positive results in India so far show 69% positive cases were asymptomatic, whereas 31% are symptomatic representing a ratio of 1:2, the ICMR said on Tuesday. So far, over four lakh samples have been tested for Covid-19 in India and of these 18,601 were positive.

Noida ‘shuts’ Delhi border, no passage without passes
The Noida administration on Tuesday night virtually sealed the city’s borders with Delhi by announcing a bar on all traffic to and from the national capital, keeping the door ajar for only those engaged in essential services but with a stricter protocol.

Coronavirus epidemic could peak in India by mid-May: Study
The coronavirus epidemic could peak in India by the middle of May and gradually peter out after that, a modelling exercise by Times Network in partnership with global consulting firm Protiviti, has predicted. The ‘Times Fact India Outbreak Report’ looks at three different possibilities and suggests that India could see the number of coronavirus cases crossing 75,000 around May 22.

WHO warns worst is yet to come, ICMR says India is doing its best
The ICMR on Tuesday said India was doing the best possible as per its capabilities to combat the Covid-19 outbreak and that one must have faith in science which was making fast advances towards developing a vaccine and therapeutic interventions. The comments came in the wake of WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus alluding to the Spanish flu in 1918 as a reference for the coronavirus outbreak and saying the worst was to come in the coronavirus outbreak, raising new alarm bells about the pandemic just as many countries are beginning to ease restrictive measures.

US coronavirus deaths top 45,000, doubling in little over a week
The US coronavirus deaths topped 45,000 on Tuesday doubling in a little over a week and rising by a near-record amount in a single day. The United States has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases at over 810,000, almost four times as many as Spain, the country with the second-highest number.

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Maharashtra worst-hit, Gujarat second as India coronavirus COVID-19 cases near 20,000-mark