Coronavirus Outbreak LIVE Updates: Kashmir declares 80 containment zones as new cases rise to 314; no COVID-19 cases reported in Odisha in two days

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    Coronavirus Outbreak LATEST Updates:  Restrictions on the movement of people in Kashmir to contain the spread of coronavirus completed one month on Friday, even as the number of red zone areas in the valley has risen to 80, officials said.

    The Indian rupee appreciated by 45 paise to 76.42 against the US dollar in intra-day trade on Friday after Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das announced measures to ensure adequate liquidity in the system to ease the financial stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    India among handful of countries to project positive growth this fiscal year at 1.9 percent, said RBI governor Shaktikanti Das on Friday during press briefing.

     Inflation may settle below target of 4 percent by H1FY21, barring any supply side disruption and shocks, said RBI governor Shaktikanta Das.

    The RBI Governor said India has enough Forex reserves for 11.8 months of imports and is “well maintained at $476.5 billion.” He further said, “RBI’s liquidity injection has been at 3.2 percent of GDP since 6 February-27 March, 2020.”

    For 2020-21, International Monetary Fund projected sizable reshaped recoveries, close to nine percentile points for the global GDP, said RBI Governor. “India is expected to post a sharp turnaround & resume its pre-COVID, pre-slowdown trajectory by growing at 7.4% in 2020-21” he added.

    ‘Reverse repo rate reduced to 3.75% from 4%’, said the RBI governor Shaktikanta Das. He further said that economic activities have been at standstill since lockdown in view of COVID-19.

    RBI governor Shaktikanta Das on Thursday said that industrial output has been at its highest in seven months. “Foreign exchange reserves continue to be robust,” said RBI governor.

    Indian indices opened on a strong note on 17 April ahead of RBI governor press conference. At 09:16 hrs IST, the Sensex is up 1,063.78 points or 3.48% at 31666.39, and the Nifty up 309.50 points or 3.44% at 9302.30. About 797 shares have advanced, 64 shares declined, and 23 shares are unchanged.

    According to the data released by the Union Health Ministry on Friday, the total number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus climbed to 13,387 while, 437 deaths were reported.

    Sixty-eight staff members including doctors and nurses of a Delhi hospital have been sent to home quarantine after a 25-year-old pregnant woman admitted there died possibly due to the novel coronavirus, officials said Thursday.

    The decision was taken by authorities at the government-run Bhagwan Mahavir Hospital (BMH), who claimed that the woman did not disclose her travel history and or her ‘home-quarantine’ status to the hospital authorities.

    Meghalaya has reported two more positive cases of the novel coronavirus and both of them are family members of the first COVID-19 patient, who died early on Wednesday morning and was laid to rest at the Riatsamthiah Prebyterian Church Cemetery at Lawmali on Thursday.

    The total number of confirmed cases in Meghalaya stood at nine.

    India registered 826 new cases and 28 new deaths on Thursday with the total number of confirmed cases climbing to 12,759. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh crossed the 1,000 mark in their tally of COVID-19 patients.

    According to data from the Union health ministry, India has 10,824 active patients while 1,514 have been cured/discharged after testing negative of the virus while one patient has migrated. The toll due to the virus is 42o.

     Coronavirus Outbreak LIVE Updates: Kashmir declares 80 containment zones as new cases rise to 314; no COVID-19 cases reported in Odisha in two days

    Indian municipal workers spray disinfectants in Jammu. AP

    As of Thursday evening, Maharashtra with 2,919 patients remained at the top, followed by Delhi at 1,578 and Tamil Nadu at 1,242. The number of cases in Madhya Pradesh rose to 1,120 cases.

    Madhya Pradesh now also accounts for 53 deaths, the second highest toll due to COVID-19, in India. Maharashtra leads in number of deaths with 187 patients succumbing to the virus in the state.

    In Rajasthan, the total number of confirmed cases is now at 1,023 with three deaths so far.

    Globally, according to estimates by the Johns Hopkins University, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed two million on Thursday and 1,39,419 people have died so far. The US is the worst-hit with more than 6,40,000 COVID-19 cases and 31,000 deaths.

    Amidst this, a UN report said that the coronavirus pandemic could push an estimated 42-66 million children into extreme poverty and the economic downturn resulting from the outbreak could result in hundreds of thousands of additional child deaths in 2020.

    State figures put India’s tally above 13,000

    While the health ministry put the number of confirmed cases at 12,759 as of Thursday, according to a PTI tally based on reports from the states, the total number of cases was 13,201 while 1,594 patients had recovered. The death toll stood at 444.

    Coronavirus cases crossed 1,000 in Madhya Pradesh (1,164) and Rajasthan (1,131) taking to five the states which have surpassed this mark.

    Maharashtra topped the tally at 3,262 with Mumbai (2,043) being the worst hit, followed by Delhi (1,578) and Tamil Nadu (1,267). The cases in the country’s commercial capital have doubled in six days.

    According to data from the health ministry’s website, there are  871 COVID-19 patient in Gujarat and 773 in Uttar Pradesh.

    Telangana has 698 cases, followed by Andhra Pradesh at 534 and Kerala at 388.

    The number of novel coronavirus cases has risen to 315 in Karanataka, 300 in Jammu and Kashmir, 271 in West Bengal, 205 in Haryana and 186 in Punjab.

    Bihar has reported 74 COVID-19 cases, while Odisha has 60 coronavirus cases. Thirty-seven people were infected with the virus in Uttarakhand, while Himachal Pradesh has 35 cases and Assam and Chhattisgarh have registered 33 cases each.

    Jharkhand has 28 cases, Chandigarh has 21 cases and Ladakh has 17, while 11 cases have been reported from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

    Meghalaya, Goa and Puducherry have reported seven COVID-19 infections each, Manipur and Tripura have two cases each, while Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have reported a case each.

    According to the health ministry, of the total 420 deaths, Maharashtra tops the tally with 187 fatalities, followed by Madhya Pradesh at 53, Gujarat 36, Delhi 32 and Telengana 18.

    Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have reported 14 deaths each while Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka 13 deaths each.

    West Bengal has reported seven COVID-19 fatalities.

    Four persons have lost their lives in Jammu and Kashmir while Kerala, Haryana and Rajasthan have recorded three deaths each. Jharkhand has reported two deaths.

    Meghalaya, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Assam have reported one fatality each, according to health ministry data.

    ICMR defends India’s testing rate

    The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Thursday also defended the Central Government’s testing strategy in the wake of fresh criticism, saying the testing ratio is not low, adding there has been no COVID-19 infections in 325 of the 736 districts.

    “In countries like Japan, one out of 11.7 tests turns out to be positive, which is among the highest in the world. Italy tests 6.7 persons for one positive test while the USA tests 5.3 persons and the United Kingdom 3.4,” said Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the ICMR.

    “Taking their population base into consideration, it is difficult to comment about our testing rate. In India, we are conducting 24 tests out of which one comes out to be positive. Also, we have huge population and not all people belong to vulnerable groups. Hence, one can’t say our testing ratio is low,” he told the daily press briefing.

    Endorsing the official’s assessment, Lav Agarwal, the joint secretary in the health ministry, said data can be interpreted in many ways and the government’s effort is aimed at ensuring not a single positive case is missed out.

    Earlier on Thursday, Rahul Gandhi had slammed the government saying the scale of testing in India has been low so far at 199 per 10 lakh people — around 350 tests per district — which he said is not enough to tell which way the virus is moving.

    Gandhi told reporters via video-conferencing that aggressive testing is the main weapon to defeat the coronavirus and it should be used strategically.

    At the briefing, Agarwal also said that the implementation of containment strategies in some districts which earlier had reported COVID-19 cases have yielded positive results, he said. One such place is Mahe, an enclave of Puducherry in Kerala, where no case has been reported in the last 28 days.

    There are 27 other districts in the country also where no positive case has been reported in a fortnight, he added.

    The Centre on Thurday also declared 170 hotspots — 123 hotspot districts with large outbreaks and 47 hotspot districts with cluster — in 25 states and Union Territories.

    Besides, it has identified 207 non-hotspot districts with clusters in 27 states which can be potential hotspots if there is no containment strategies.

    India receives delivery of rapid testing kits from China

    On Thursday, India also received the much-awaited five lakh rapid COVID-19 testing kits from China, the government said.

    Gangakhedkar said the testing kits from China will be used for surveillance and to monitor whether coronavirus hotspots in the country are increasing or decreasing.

    Reacting to reports suggesting that the Chinese kits could be faulty, Gangakhedkar acknowledged that the sensitivity and specificity of such kits are less.

    “Rapid antibody tests are for monitoring surveillance, not for early diagnosis. Hence there is no concern with respect to the testing kits being faulty, that concern was with respect to immune response alone,” he explained.

    Delhi may do clinical screening of food delivery personnel

    In Delhi, authorities are considering clinical screening of all food delivery personnel in south Delhi with scores being quarantined after a pizza delivery agent in the area tested positive for coronavirus.

    The 19-year-old tested positive for the virus on 14 April. People in 72 households where he delivered pizza to have been put under home quarantine, said BM Mishra, district magistrate of South Delhi. The total number of people in the households was not immediately known.

    “In view of this incident, we are considering that all those involved in home delivery of food are put through clinical screening so that those showing symptoms are stopped from visiting homes,” Mishra told PTI.

    The 17 first line contact of the infected man, including his colleagues, have been quarantined at an institutional facility at Chhatarpur, Mishra said.

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the impact of COVID-19 on the Indian economy, and discussed a possible second stimulus with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to boost sectors hit hard by the pandemic.

    Modi held discussions with the finance minister as the pandemic hit sectors from small industries to the aviation sector hard with millions of jobs at stake.

    The finance minister last month announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore stimulus that included free foodgrains and cooking gas to poor for three months, and cash doles to women and poor senior citizens as it looked to ease the economic impact of the nationwide lockdown.

    3,336 Indians abroad infected with coronavirus

    Official sources said that a total of 3,336 Indians in 53 countries were infected by the coronavirus while 25 lost their lives due to the disease.

    They said Indians stranded abroad will have to show patience as the government is not evacuating them as part of a larger policy decision to check spread of the virus in the country.

    The sources said India has decided to supply anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to 55 countries on commercial basis as well as grants.

    On sourcing medical equipment from abroad, they said India is procuring coronavirus testing kits from South Korea and China.

    India is looking at procuring medical equipment from Germany, the US, the UK, Malaysia, Japan and France to fight COVID-19, they said.

    COVID-19 pandemic could push 42-66 mn children into extreme poverty: UN

    Meanwhile the United Nations said that an estimated 42-66 million children could fall into extreme poverty as a result of the coroanvirus crisis this year, adding to the estimated 386 million million children already in extreme poverty in 2019.

    “Children are not the face of this pandemic. But they risk being among its biggest victims,” said a new Policy Brief: The impact of COVID-19 on children’ released by the United Nations on Thursday.

    “This is a universal crisis of unprecedented scale. All children, of all ages, and in all countries, are affected. However, some children are destined to bear the greatest costs. Among those who will be badly hit are children living in slums, refugee and displacement camps, and zones of active conflict. Children with disabilities. Children living in institutions and detention centres,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.

    Urging nations to act now on the threats faced by children, Guterres said leaders must do everything in their power to cushion the impact of the pandemic.

    With inputs from PTI

    Updated Date: Apr 17, 2020 12:52:26 IST

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