Coronavirus Outbreak LIVE Updates: With 15 more testing positive in Karnataka, confirmed cases at 489, toll at 18; recovery rate at 31.3%

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    Coronavirus Outbreak LATEST Updates: With 15 more people testing positive for the novel coronavirus in Karnataka from 24 April 5 pm to 25 April 12 pm, the total number of confirmed cases in the state climbed to 489.

    Lives of 18 people were claimed by the infectious disease while 153 COVID-19 patients have recovered, said the state government.

    The toll due to the novel coronavirus in Maharashtra reached 301 after 18 more people succumbed to the infectious disease on Friday. However, there was a surprising drop in the daily tally of confirmed cases in both Maharashtra and Mumbai on Friday, a day after it registered the highest single-day spike in cases.

    The state recorded 394 COVID-19 cases on Friday against 778 on Thursday, thereby registering a 49.4% drop. On the other hand, Mumbai confirmed 242 cases on Friday, a 53.6% decline than 522 registered on Thursday.

    As many as eight persons tested positive for COVID-19 in Maharashtra’s Amravati city in 24 hours, taking the total number of active cases to 12 in the city, an official said on Saturday.

    The city has recorded 16 positive cases so far, of which four patients succumbed to the infection, while four others were discharged following recovery on Friday, the official said.

    The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India jumped to 24,506 while the fatalities reached 775 due to the infectious disease, according to the recent data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday.

    Of the overall positive cases, 18,668 are active cases. The recovery rate across the nation was at 20.66 percent with 5062 being cured of the virus while, one has migrated from the country.

    After the actual COVID-19 death figures had come under question, the West Bengal government on Friday said there were 57 fatalities caused due to the novel coronavirus in the state. According to its death audit committee, 57 COVID-19 patients had died, but asserted that 39 of these were due to co-morbidities.

    The home ministry on Friday allowed reopening of all shops in residential and market complexes outside municipal limits and all neighbourhood shops within municipal limits of non-containment zones to open during the lockdown.

    However this concession has not been extended to single and multi-brand malls outside municipal limits and single-brand and multi-brand malls as well as market complexes within municipal limits.

    As the nation completed a month in lockdown, health ministry said today that without it, India would have had at least one lakh cases by now. The ministry also claimed that the in the last 28 days, as many as 15 districts have had no new case, while there are 80 districts in the country that have not reported any new coronavirus case in the last 14 days.

     Coronavirus Outbreak LIVE Updates: With 15 more testing positive in Karnataka, confirmed cases at 489, toll at 18; recovery rate at 31.3%

    Representational Image. PTI

    However, these claims came alongside the fact that India reported its highest single-day spike in cases on Friday. The death toll due to the novel coronavirus rose to 723 with 37 fatalities reported since Thursday evening, while the number of cases saw a record jump of 1,752 increasing the confirmed cases in the country to 23,452 cases, according to data from the health ministry. The previous highest single day increase was on 20 April w hen 1,540 cases were reported.

    In a late night order, in what seems to be the beginning of the end of the lockdown, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Friday ordered the exemption of all shops under the Shops and Establishment Act of States/UTs, including shops in residential complexes and market complexes — except shops in multi-brand and single-brand malls — outside limits of municipal corporations, from revised consolidated lockdown restrictions.

    One month into lockdown, concerns over economic impact grow

    After 30 days of lockdown, a high-level group of top bureaucrats, comprising of Union Home Secretary and his counterpart in the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, reviewed measures to speed up economic and industrial activities and held a video conference with representatives of industry associations.

    Home Ministry Joint Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava said feedback is being taken from industrial units and their problems are being addressed. She said certain quarters of the industry and exporters have raised concerns over some new guidelines, saying it was difficult for them to implement those for partial resumption of their factory operations.

    Srivastava said progress in economic activities, especially in rural areas, is being witnessed, and added that road construction, brick kilns and cement manufacturing related works have also started.

    Later in the evening, the Home Ministry also clarified that some lockdown guidelines have been misinterpreted and no legal action will be taken against a company CEO, nor a factory will be sealed, in case an employee tests positive for COVID-19.

    In another significant decision, the government froze inflation-linked allowance for its 1.1 crore employees and pensioners, a move states are likely to replicate, in order to save a combined Rs 1.2 lakh crore.

    Industry body CII said India’s GDP, in the baseline scenario, is expected to grow at just 0.6 percent on an annual basis as economic activity is expected to remain constrained due to continuing restrictions on the free movement of goods and people beyond the lockdown period.

    In the most optimistic scenario, which envisages a faster pick-up in the aftermath of the lockdown, the GDP is expected to register a growth of 1.5 percent.

    In case of a more prolonged outbreak, where the restrictions in existing hotspot regions get extended, while new regions are identified as ‘hotspots’ leading to intermittent stop and start in economic activity, the GDP is likely to decline by 0.9 percent, it added.

    Separately, Fitch Ratings also slashed India’s growth projection to 0.8 per cent for 2020-21, saying that an unparalleled global recession was underway due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and resultant lockdowns.

    India reports highest single-day spike, but rate of recovery improving

    According to a PTI tally of figures announced by various states and union territories, the number of confirmed cases has reached 23,577 with at least 743 deaths, while nearly 5,000 patients have recovered and have been discharged.

    Maharashtra alone has reported more than 6,400 cases and at least 283 deaths, while Gujarat has seen over 2,600 confirmed infections with over 100 deaths and Delhi has more than 2,300 cases with 50 deaths. Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have also reported large number of cases.

    Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal, however, said that the rate of recovery has improved to 19.89 percent, from 9.99 percent ten days ago on 14 April, while 12 districts have reported not a single case in the last 28 days. The number of districts with no cases in last 14 days has also increased to 78.

    Government officials said it has been able to “cut coronavirus transmission”, minimise its spread and increase the doubling time of COVID-19 cases in the country during the 30-day period of the nationwide lockdown.

    While asserting that the growth of coronavirus cases in the country has been more or less linear and not exponential, it also said testing has been ramped up consistently.

    Addressing a daily press conference on the COVID-19 situation in the country, CK Mishra, the chairman of Empowered Group Two, said testing has been a “crucial weapon” during the 30-day lockdown period, which began on 25 March 24, to ascertain if one has contracted the disease or not.

    As on 23 March, nearly 15,000 tests were done across the country and by 22 April more than 5 lakh tests were conducted, which is about “33 times in 30 days”, he said, adding, “But we are conscious of the fact that this is not enough and we have to continuously ramp up testing in the country and we will do that.”

    One of the empowered groups formed to suggest measures to ramp up healthcare, put the economy back on track and reduce misery of people once the lockdown is lifted, Empowered Group Two is tasked with coordinating availability of hospitals, isolation and quarantine facilities, disease surveillance, testing and critical care training.

    “The growth of COVID-19 cases has been more or less linear, not exponential; this indicates that the strategies we adopted have succeeded in containing the infection to a particular level. Post imposition of lockdown, while the number of new positive cases has increased by 16 times, testing increased by 24 times,” Mishra added.

    “Despite a 24-fold increase in testing, the percentage of positive cases is not rising. The percentage of positive cases as a ratio of testing is more or less the same as that a month ago,” he said.

    Mishra also claimed that India has done better than a majority of developed countries with respect to the percentage of test cases yielding positive results. He said South Korea is among the countries that have done better than India.

    “We need to evolve our strategy based on the current position… We seem to be doing well so far with our strategy which is intensely focused on areas where we see a lot of positivity and action happening. Our testing strategy has been focused, targeted and continues to expand,” he said.

    Situation in Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Surat ‘especially concerning’

    The COVID-19 situation is “especially serious” in major or emerging hotspots like Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad, Chennai and Thane, the Centre said on Friday, as it rushed inter-ministerial central teams(IMCT) to monitor the situation in these cities.

    The assessment by the MHA came on a day when Ahmedabad Municipal Commissioner Vijay Nehra said the number of COVID-19 patients in the Gujarat capital may grow to eight lakh by the end of May if the current four-day period of doubling of the cases continues. So far, Ahmedabad city has reported 1,638 cases, the highest in Gujarat which accounted for over 2,600 infections.

    Four teams headed by Additional Secretary-level officers will visit Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad and Chennai, MHA Joint Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava told a press conference. These teams will be in addition to the six IMCTs constituted earlier, she said.

    The teams have been constituted for a spot assessment of the COVID-19 hotspot districts.

    The six teams are in Mumbai, Pune (Maharashtra), Indore (Madhya Pradesh), Jaipur (Rajasthan) and West Bengal (one team for Kolkata and adjoining districts and the other for North Bengal). The team in Mumbai will also visit Thane.

    Political nitpicking over crisis continues

    Political nitpicking gained steam on Friday as several non-BJP ruled states alleged partisan behaviour by the Central Government. Meanwhile, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was locked in a tussle with the state’s governor Jagdeep Dhankhar.

    Congress president Sonia Gandhi accused the BJP of spreading the virus of communal prejudice and hatred in the country, asserting that “grave damage” is being done to India’s social harmony.

    Rahul Gandhi said issues of migrant workers must be addressed as the first priority and lockdown beyond 3 May should only be continued in COVID-19 hotspots and not in green zones, while his sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra demanded that migrant workers stuck at various state borders due to the lockdown be permitted to return to their native places after due testing and precautions.

    Chief ministers of Congress-ruled states, on the other hand, hit out at the Central Government for not providing financial assistance to them, asking how will the country win the battle against COVID-19 in this time of crisis.

    West Bengal governor Dhankhar mounted a fresh assault on West Bengal chief minister after her missive on Thursday where she accused him of “repeatedly interfering” in the functioning of her government and reminded him she is the elected chief minister of a proud state and he is a nominated governor.

    Dhankhar said the chief minister’s “outburst” is an alibi strategy to cover up “monumental failures” in tackling the  COVID-19 pandemic in the state. Urging the TMC supremo “to shun politics and confrontational approach”, Dhankhar said her conduct is only compounding the miseries of the people.

    He also accused her of “explicitly appeasing” the minority community, while referring to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in New Delhi, which has often been blamed for the spurt in the novel coronavirus cases.

    There have been allegations from various quarters that the state government is hiding coronavirus cases and deaths. Banerjee had earlier slammed the Centre for sending the teams to look into the states preparedness for tackling the COVID-19 outbreak and alleged that faulty testing kits were dispatched to the state.

    With inputs from PTI

    Updated Date: Apr 25, 2020 13:04:28 IST

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