New Delhi: The number of novel coronavirus cases on Friday rose to 81, which include 16 Italians and one Canadian, Health Ministry officials said.
Addressing reporters, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said coronavirus was not a health emergency and that there was no need to panic. He said seven more coronavirus patients were cured and they would be discharged soon, while 71 were “clinically stable”.
He said so far, India has evacuated 1,031 people, including from Maldives, the US, Madagascar and China. “An exercise will be undertaken on Saturday to bring back Indian passengers stranded in Iran.
Air India will also send a flight to Milan on Saturday to bring back stranded Indians. It will land on Sunday morning at Delhi airport,” said Ministry of Civil Aviation Joint Secretary Rubina Ali.
A total of 4,000 people, who came in contact with 81 positive cases, were under vigorous observation across the country, Agarwal said.
The Centre also decided to allow international traffic only through 19 border checkposts out of 37 and decided to continue suspension of Indo-Bangladesh cross border passenger trains and buses till April 15, or earlier, if so decided.
With the World Health Organisation declaring coronavirus a pandemic, Agarwal said 42,000 people across the country were under community surveillance.
An ITBP-run quarantine centre in New Delhi released 112 people, comprising 76 Indians and 36 foreigners, on Friday after they all tested negative for coronavirus, a senior official said. They were evacuated last month from Wuhan in China and admitted on February 27 to the special centre of the border guarding force in Chhawla area of south-west Delhi, one of the biggest quarantine centres in the country set up to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Two tests were conducted on these inmates, the first one on the day they were brought here and the second on the fourteenth day. All the 112 samples have been found negative and hence, it was decided to allow them to leave for their homes and other destinations,” ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said. Earlier, 406 people were brought to this centre and were subsequently released last month following negative test results.
AP to implement Epidemic Diseases Act
Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh government on Friday decided to implement the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, as a precautionary measure to curb the possible spread of coronavirus. The decision follows a directive from the Union Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba to all States to invoke the provisions of the Act.
State Special Chief Secretary (Health) K S Jawahar Reddy told media that action would be taken as per Section 2 of the Act against those who did not follow the safety precautions suggested by the government to contain the virus. Only one positive case of Covid-19 was reported in the State so far, while test results of another seven suspected cases were awaited, the Special Chief Secretary said.
“Precautions should be taken by all, particularly in crowded places like cinema halls and malls. If anyone is found violating the guidelines, we will initiate action as per the EDA,” he said.
Modi pitches for joint SAARC strategy
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday proposed formulation of a joint strategy by SAARC nations to fight coronavirus, with member states promptly hailing the idea.
“I would like to propose that the leadership of SAARC nations chalk out a strong strategy to fight coronavirus. We could discuss, via video conferencing, ways to keep our citizens healthy. Together, we can set an example to the world and contribute to a healthier planet,” Modi said in a tweet.
In another tweet, he said, “Our planet is battling the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. At various levels, governments and people are trying their best to combat it. South Asia, which is home to a significant number of the global population, should leave no stone unturned to ensure that the people are healthy.”
His appeal got a prompt response from Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Bhutanese premier Lotay Tshering, who welcomed the proposal.
“Thank you for the great initiative Narendra Modi — Lanka is ready to join the discussion and share our learnings and best practices and to learn from other SAARC members. Let’s unite in solidarity during these trying times and keep our citizens safe,” Rajapaksa said in a tweet.
Panic as COVID-19 patient’s neighbour dies in Kerala
Kottayam: An elderly man, who was a neighbour of a coronavirus patient at Chengalam here and under home quarantine, died on Friday en route to hospital and authorities are awaiting the post-mortem report and test results of samples to confirm the cause of death.
Kottayam Collector PK Sudheer Babu told the media that the deceased did not show any signs of the virus and a preliminary medical examination showed that the death had occurred due to heart attack. He said the deceased was a “secondary contact” of the infected person.
“We are quite sure the death was not related to the coronavirus. But, we can confirm it only after the post-mortem,” the Collector said. Babu said it was the son of the deceased who is the “primary contact” of the infected person and not the father.
The Collector convened the press conference after rumours were spread that the person who died was affected by coronavirus.
Three nurses asked to vacate by landlord in Kerala
Kottayam: Three male nurses, who were taking care of coronavirus affected patients at the Kottayam medical college hospital, were asked to vacate their rented home by their landlord. The three were working in different shifts. When they completed their shifts this morning and went home for taking rest, the house owner asked them to vacate, one of them said.
The landlord could not be reached for comments. When a television channel aired their plight, it came to the notice of the Kottayam Collector PK Sudheer Babu, who made arrangements for their stay at the medical college quarters. Three positive coronavirus patients are undergoing treatment at the hospital.
SC to hear urgent cases only
New Delhi: Taking note of global pandemic novel coronavirus, the Supreme Court on Friday decided that from March 16, it will take up for hearing only urgent matters and no persons except lawyers concerned will be allowed inside its courtrooms.
The apex court, which has been mulling over the issue in its meetings held at the residence of Chief Justice of India S A Bobde on Thursday and Friday, took note of the government’s March 5 advisory cautioning against mass gatherings.
The apex court’s notification, issued by its secretary general Sanjeev S Kalgaonkar, said it was decided that its functioning shall be restricted to urgent matters with such number of benches as may be found appropriate.
Delhi bans sports gatherings
New Delhi: The Delhi government has stopped all sports gatherings, including the Indian Premier League 2020, in the national capital amid novel coronavirus threat, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on Friday.
Addressing a press conference, Sisodia said district magistrates were asked to ensure that all directives pertaining to coronavirus were implemented. They were also asked to keep a close watch on the possible spread of the virus in their respective regions. All sports gatherings would be banned, including the IPL, he said.
“Social distancing is the most effective way to stop the spread of the coronavirus cases in Delhi and India. To maintain social distancing, it is important to avoid any big event which witnesses huge public gatherings. “The IPL and such sports events witness huge gatherings, therefore, we have decided to stop such events with an immediate effect till further order,” Sisodia said.
“I want to tell everyone to not wait for the government orders but to proactively avoid any big gatherings. The government is doing their best but to stop the spread of coronavirus, mutual cooperation of the people and the government is very important,” he said.
Citing the example of Korea, Sisodia said coronavirus was contained for the first 30 cases but the 31st patient passed it to thousands of other people.
Over 700 staffers under watch as firm’s director tests positive
Noida: More than 700 people working in a leather company in Greater Noida were put under surveillance after a Delhi-based director of the firm tested positive for novel coronavirus, officials said on Friday.
The 46-year-old man had recently travelled to Italy and Switzerland before returning to India, Gautam Buddh Nagar Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Anurag Bhargava said.
“When the man, who lives in Delhi, returned home, he felt weakness and consulted doctors who tested him positive for coronavirus. However, he kept visiting the company since returning from abroad because of which all 707 employees of the company have been put on surveillance,” Bhargava told reporters.
“His family members and children are already under surveillance,” Bhargava said, adding that the company was also being sanitised under the watch of experts.