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Morning digest: Global lockdown tightens as death toll soars past 35,000; PM Modi holds video conference with 130 Indian envoys; and more

In this video grab made out of DD News, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the nation on coronavirus pandemic, in New Delhi.

In this video grab made out of DD News, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gestures as he addresses the nation on coronavirus pandemic, in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: PTI

A select list of stories to read before you start your day

Coronavirus | PM Modi holds first ever video conference with heads of Indian missions

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held a video conference with the heads of India’s diplomatic missions and urged them to assist Indian nationals who are stranded in various countries that are severely affected by the novel coronavirus outbreak. Addressing 130 Indian envoys, Mr. Modi urged them to help in containing the economic fallout of the viral pandemic by ensuring continuity of trade and commercial channels between India and the rest of the world.

Telangana government confirms six more COVID-19 deaths

Telangana government on Monday night confirmed that six persons who had attended a religious congregation, Markaz prayers, in Nizamuddin area of New Delhi had died of COVID-19 in the last few days. The late night statement issued in Telugu from the Chief Minister’s office said that several persons from Telangana had attended the three-day religious congregation and many of them had contracted coronavirus.

Coronavirus | India still in local transmission, says government

Reiterating that India continues to be in the local transmission phase despite the country registering a spike from 100 to 1,000 cases in 12 days, the Union Health Ministry on Monday said India’s precautionary and early lockdown is proving to be a step in the right direction. India registered more than 60 new cases and four deaths in the past 24 hours, with a total of 1,071 cases and 29 deaths so far, the Ministry said, clarifying that no orders had been passed to “conduct large scale disinfection of people but protocol has been put in place for sanitising large public spaces, etc.”

‘Moderate humidity may deter coronavirus’

Coronaviruses are sensitive to humidity and are less likely to thrive at moderate levels of humidity, a series of experimental studies over the years have shown. Earlier this month, a study by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States said that regions experiencing a monsoon might see a slowing — but not a stop — to the transmission of the virus and, therefore, could help mitigation strategies in tropical countries such as India.

Data | Which States recorded the most coronavirus cases, deaths, and the best testing rates?

On Monday, the number of COVID-19 cases crossed the 1,200 mark in India. Kerala recorded the most cases, followed closely by Maharashtra, which recorded the most COVID-19 deaths. Apart from these two States, the case progression in Tamil Nadu and Gujarat were notably rapid. Kerala’s rate of testing was the highest and Jharkhand’s the lowest.

Indian refiners hit by lockdowns, oil price war, and a faltering global petro-order

The steep fall in domestic energy demand driven by the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted India’s oil refining sector amid an oil price war and a severely stressed global petro-order. Reuters had earlier reported that Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the refining heavyweight, and Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Ltd. (MRPL), have served force majeure notices to their Middle Eastern crude suppliers, citing the Coronavirus epidemic — a Black Swan event. Force majeure notices are built into contracts, which relieve companies from making payments due to unforeseen calamities such as wars and natural disasters.

Coronavirus | Bhilwara readies quarantine facilities after massive screening

After screening as many as 24 lakh people for coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms by deploying 650 teams of health workers over a nine-day period, the administration in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district has readied facilities to quarantine 15,000 persons to meet an emergency situation. Bhilwara has been the State’s worst-hit area during the ongoing crisis after the infection spread in a private hospital.

Experts speak | Boosting immunity is need of the hour

When we are supposed to protect ourselves from the virus from outside, we need to protect ourselves beginning right from within our body by strengthening the immune system. The immune system is indeed complex and is to a great extent impacted by the environment around us. There are many factors that affect the functioning of the immune system. A healthy lifestyle involves eating nutritious food, practising hygienic habits, walking and exercising regularly, maintaining good emotional and mental health and having adequate sleep.

Coronavirus | An unending journey to their homes

At 11 on Monday morning, fifteen-year-old Balmiki Kumar is sitting on a wooden bench under a tree inside the campus of the Patna High School in Gardanibagh locality. His tattered black backpack is bloated with stuff. He is unwilling to go inside the vacant rooms of the school to rest. “I want to go to my home in Sitamarhi district as soon as possible and be with my family”, he says. He wants to say more, but is exhausted after his long tiring journey of over 1,000 km from Delhi’s Noida.

Alcohol withdrawal effects drive more people to Institute of Mental Health

The number of people suffering from severe alcohol withdrawal effects who visit Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Erragadda, increased from maximum of 5 patients a day to 90. Along with other commercial establishments, liquor shops too were shut for over a week as part of lockdown for containment of the spread of coronavirus. Deprived of their regular dose of alcohol, addicts have slipped from atonic symptoms such as restlessness, trembling, to severe effects such as seizures, delirium.

Coronavirus | Global lockdown tightens as deaths mount

Harsh lockdowns aimed at halting the march of the coronavirus extended worldwide Monday as the death toll soared past 35,000 and new waves of U.S. outbreaks pushed the nation’s containment efforts to the brink. Despite slivers of hope in stricken Italy and Spain, the tough measures that have confined some two-fifths of the globe’s population to their homes were broadened. Moscow and Lagos joined the roll call of cities around the globe with eerily empty streets, while Virginia, Maryland and Kansas became the latest U.S. States to announce emergency stay-at-home orders. The capital city Washington followed suit.

Coronavirus | Five members of U.S. Congress test positive

Six members of the U.S. Congress have announced that they have contracted the novel coronavirus, and more than 30 others are or were self-quarantining in hopes of limiting the spread of the pandemic. Now that Congress has passed a $2.2 trillion Economic Relief Bill, and President Donald Trump has signed it into law, neither the House of Representatives nor Senate is now due back in Washington before April 20 at the earliest.

Interview | ‘Testing and mass quarantines helped Wuhan defeat virus’

Wuhan, the epicentre of the COVID-19 outbreak, is slowly rebounding after two months in lockdown. On Sunday, Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province reported no infections for the sixth straight day, unthinkable a month ago when the city was reporting daily infections in the thousands Dr. Gong Zuojiong, Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, has been on the frontlines of the COVID-19 fight in the city. In an interview with The Hindu, he says a key lesson from Wuhan’s battle was breaking the chain of transmission through widespread testing and isolating all patients, even those with mild symptoms, away from their homes in central quarantine.

Coronavirus | Great Pyramid of Giza lights up in solidarity against pandemic

Egypt’s famed Great Pyramid was emblazoned Monday evening with messages of unity and solidarity with those battling the novel coronavirus the world over. “Stay safe”, “Stay at home” and “Thank you to those keeping us safe,” flashed in blue and green lights across the towering structure at the Giza Plateau, southwest of the capital Cairo. Egypt has so far registered 656 COVID-19 cases, including 41 deaths. Of the total infected, 150 reportedly recovered.

Saudi-led coalition air strikes hit rebel-held Yemen capital Sanaa

The Saudi-led military coalition on Monday carried out multiple air strikes on Yemen’s rebel-held capital Sanaa in retaliation for missile strikes on Riyadh. Residents in Sanaa reported multiple explosions after the bombing raids began, in a new escalation despite UN calls for a ceasefire to protect Yemeni civilians from the coronavirus pandemic. The military operation targeted the “storage, assembly and installation sites” of ballistic missiles and drones across territory held by the Huthi rebels, the coalition said in a statement released by the official Saudi Press Agency.

Coronavirus | Amazon, Instacart workers protest over safety

Amazon warehouse employees and Instacart delivery shoppers joined protests Monday to press safety demands, highlighting the risks for workers on the front lines of supplying Americans largely sheltering at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An estimated 50 to 60 employees joined a walkout at an Amazon worker warehouse in the New York borough of Staten Island, demanding that the facility be shut down and cleaned after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus.

Cauvery, tributaries look cleaner as pandemic keeps pollution away

The strict enforcement of 21-day lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic has turned out to be a boon for the Cauvery and other rivers in the old Mysuru region as the prohibition of industrial and religious activities has helped in reducing pollution level in the rivers. According to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), the Cauvery and tributaries like Kabini, Hemavati, Shimsha, and Lakshmanathirtha are regaining their decades-old status in terms of water quality.

Umpire Anil Chaudhary during the lockdown — at home in the field

Cricket took him away from Dangarol, a village in District Shamli. The lockdown has now transported him back to his childhood days when he would spend time in the sugarcane fields owned by his family. “The India-South Africa series ended abruptly (on March 13) and I came to the village on the 16th to fetch grains and jaggery. I brought my sons (Aryan and Akshat) along, leaving my wife (Meeta) and mother (Kamla) back in Delhi. Then the lockdown happened. We decided to stay put in the village,” ICC panel umpire Anil Chaudhary told The Hindu.

Sachin my pick to bat in any condition: Warne

Spin great Shane Warne on Monday picked his fierce rival Sachin Tendulkar as the batsman to bat in any conditions and called his former skipper Steve Waugh a match saver rather than a match-winner. One of the greatest spinners to have played the game, Warne was engaged in an Instagram live session with his fans.

Chess | Gukesh has been forced to slow down

Last year, at the Delhi International Open GMs chess tournament, D. Gukesh became the world’s second youngest Grandmaster at 12 years, seven months and 17 days. The youngster reached the summit, but the rest of 2019 wasn’t great for him. He had to wait until February 2020 to get his first tournament win — the Hillerod Chess Club open in Denmark — and followed it up with another win at the Cannes Open. Just when he was hitting good form, the coronavirus pandemic scuppered his plans.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 9:55:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/morning-digest-march-31-2020/article31211678.ece

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