Coronavirus India lockdown Day 207 updates | October 19, 2020

A health worker takes a nasal swab sample of a shopkeeper during random testing for coronavirus in Guwahati on October 16, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AP

India passed its COVID-19 peak in September and, if current trends continue, there will be “minimal cases” by February, according to a modelling study commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology. It noted that India’s COVID burden is expected to be capped at 106 lakh symptomatic infections by early next year, with less than 50,000 active cases from December.

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are the latest updates:


Lawyers may travel on local trains in Mumbai for work

The Maharashtra government on Monday told the Bombay High Court that it has decided to increase the number of local trains and all lawyers may use them but only for professional reasons, to prevent crowding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G.S. Kulkarni was hearing a couple of public interest litigations stating that services rendered by advocates were essential services. Hence, lawyers should be included in the list of essential staff permitted to travel on special suburban/local trains.

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United States

Dr. Fauci says he is ‘absolutely not’ surprised President Trump got COVID-19

America’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci says he was “absolutely not” surprised when Donald Trump contracted COVID-19 after seeing the president surrounded by several people not wearing face masks and flouting best public health practices against the deadly pandemic.

Dr. Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases appeared to be referring to the White House Rose Garden event on September 26 where Mr. Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett was his pick to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. At least 12 people have tested positive for Covid-19 after attending the function.

Dr. Fauci said during an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” that was aired on Sunday, “I was worried that he was going to get sick when I saw him in a completely precarious situation of crowded - no separation between people, and almost nobody wearing a mask.”

“When I saw that on TV, I said, ‘Oh my goodness. Nothing good can come out of that, that’s got to be a problem,’” he said.

“And then sure enough, it turned out to be a superspreader event.” - AP


Singapore to give SGD 5.5 billion to 140,000 companies to help them during COVID-19 crisis

More than 140,000 companies with 1.9 million local employees here will receive Singapore dollars 5.5 billion (USD 4.5 billion) this month as part of a jobs scheme to help them retain their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic that has upended life and businesses across the globe.

The latest payout is Singapore dollars 1.5 billion more than the last round of disbursement in July, according to a Channel News Asia report.

First announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in February’s Budget, the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), to be implemented from October 29, is a wage subsidy programme aimed at helping companies retain their workers as businesses have taken a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the October payouts, more than Singapore dollars 21.5 billion (USD 15.8) in JSS support would have been given out, said the Ministry of Finance and Inland Revenue Authority. - PTI

New Delhi

Labour Minister commends EPFO officials for speedy claim settlement

Labour Minister Santosh Gangwar felicitated officials of retirement fund body EPFO’s Delhi West office, who settled 100%  withdrawal claims within 24 hours during during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the COVID-19 non-refundable advance facility, the members can withdraw three months’ basic wages (basic pay plus dearness allowance) or half of the total accumulation in his or her Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) account, whichever is less. This advance is provided to members to meet exigencies due to the COVID-19 situation in the country.

“The EPFO Delhi West has settled around 3.37 lakh claims for a total of around ₹833 crore since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Covid specific claims have been disbursed to the tune of ₹200 crore bringing relief to some 89,000 workers and their families. This has been done working non-stop 178 days [till October 18],” Uttam Prakash, Commissioner, EPFO Delhi West said. — PTI


Rahul Gandhi assures all assistance to Malappuram to fight COVID-19

Amid surging coronavirus cases in the district, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday said all necessary assistance will be provided to the Malappuram district administration to fight COVID-19. Mr. Gandhi was speaking at a COVID-19 evaluation meeting at the Collectorate in Malappuram.

Malappuram has been witnessing a spurt in infections of late and in the past three days, the district has recorded the highest number of cases in the State - 1,399 on Sunday, 1,519 on Saturday and 1,025 cases on Friday.

“The rate of spread of the infection, the facilities arranged in the medical sector, and other matters related to the pandemic were discussed. Malappuram Collector presented the report related to pandemic,” a release issued by Malappuram district information office said.

It also said the Wayanad MP expressed satisfaction in the COVID-19 preventive treatment measures in the district. - PTI

New Delhi

Uber introduces rider mask verification selfie feature in India

Uber on October 19 said the riders who have been tagged for not wearing mask on a previous trip will have to take a selfie showing them wearing a mask, in order to book their next trip.

This new feature ensures that feedback received from drivers can help make the platform safer for the next user, Uber said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Uber built a technology designed to verify that drivers on the platform are wearing a mask while on-trip, by clicking a selfie.

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West Bengal

Kolkata thumbs nose at COVID-19 safety protocols as crowds throng Puja pandals

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, but one particular picture from Sunday, circulating on social media, has nothing left to say. It shows a lane leading to a Durga Puja pandal packed with mask-wearing people, several of them are clicking selfies. In the foreground is a man carrying his child — the boy’s mask is in place but the father’s mask sits way below the nose.

Many such crowd pictures emerged from the ‘City of Joy’ on Sunday, when West Bengal recorded not only the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases — 3,983 — but also the highest number of deaths, 64. Come to think of it, Durga Puja has not even officially begun: it traditionally begins on the sixth of the nine days that precede Dussehra and Sunday was only Day 2.

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Tamil Nadu

Chennai has less than 30 streets under COVID-19 containment zones

The number of COVID-19 containment zones in Chennai has come down to 29 with nil barricaded streets in Ambattur zone.

The Greater Chennai Corporation, which had resumed barricading of streets in the first week of October after COVID-19 positive cases started increasing, had at one time blocked a total of 70 streets. Ambattur zone, which had the highest number of 29 streets barricaded, does not figure in the latest containment zone data provided by the civic body.

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West Bengal

Durga Puja pandals  to be containment zones, no visitors will be allowed inside: Calcutta HC

No visitors will be allowed inside Durga Puja pandals across West Bengal and the Puja mandap will be treated as a 'containment zone' this year  Calcutta High Court said in an order on Monday.

A division bench of Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Arijit Banerjee in the order said that only organizers of the Durga Puja committees can enter pandals in numbers ranging from 15 to 25.  The Court said that ‘ No Entry” notices should be put up near Durga Puja pandals this year and the awareness drive should be taken to inform the people about the High Court's order.

Hearing a public interest litigation on the issue of Durga Pujas being allowed in the State during the COVID-19 pandemic the Court observed that the police does not have enough resources to control the crowd if people descend to the streets. - Shiv Sahay Singh


Six staffers of DCW’s 181 helpline test COVID-19 positive

employees of the Delhi Commission for Women’s 181 helpline have tested positive for COVID-19, the women panel said Monday. The helpine operates from Naraina area where 36 counsellors work, according to the DCW statement.

Two of the six employees who have tested COVID-19 positive are supervisors, while four are helpline counsellors, it said. All of them have been put under home isolation and the office has been thoroughly sanitised. - PTI


Govt procuring 1500 additional video conferencing licences for courts

As courts continue to hear cases virtually amid COVID-19, the government has initiated the process of procuring 1500 additional video conferencing licences at an approximate cost of Rs nine crore for providing the facility for high courts and district courts, a senior functionary said.

From the day the nationwide lockdown was imposed to check the spread of coronavirus till the end of September, high courts and district courts across India have heard over 26 lakh cases virtually, according to data collated by the Union Law Ministry. - PTI


Eight of Karnataka Deputy CM Karjol’s family COVID positive, son on ventilator

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Govind Karjol has said eight members of his family have contracted coronavirus including his son Dr Gopal Karjol, who is on ventilator for the past 23 days.

In a long Twitter post, Karjol explained his inability to take up a long journey to physically monitor the flood situation in Bagalkote and Kalaburagi.

“My son Dr Gopal Karjol is on ventilator for the past 23 days (due to coronavirus). My wife recently came out of the hospital after recovering from the coronavirus infection. I too recovered from COVID after staying in the hospital for 19 days. In all, eight members of my family had contracted coronavirus,” Karjol said in his post.

Karjol is an MLA from Mudhol in Bagalkote and is district in charge minister of Bagalkote and Kalaburagi. - PTI

New Delhi

COVID-19 infection being ‘effectively contained’: Govt

India’s cumulative COVID-19 positivity rate has remained below 8 per cent for four days, demonstrating that the rate of spread of infection is being effectively contained, the Union health ministry said on Monday.

The country’s cumulative positivity rate stands at 7.94 per cent and is on a continuous decline, the ministry said in a statement.

“As evidence has revealed, higher numbers of testing on a sustained basis have aided in bringing down the positivity rate. The decline in the cumulative positivity rate has demonstrated that the rate of spread of infection is being effectively contained,” it said. - PTI


Harsh Vardhan didn’t pull up State: Shylaja

Health Minister K.K. Shylaja has refuted reports that the Union Health Minister has come down hard on Kerala for the manner in which it allowed COVID-19 containment activities to lose steam, resulting in over 8,000 cases a day now.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, in his Sunday live talk show on Facebook, had said despite the admirable way in which Kerala handled the initial phases of COVID-19 containment, it had been “grossly negligent” during the Onam festivities.

Ms. Shylaja came on her FB page live to say that she had spoken to Dr. Harsh Vardhan, who was always appreciative of how Kerala was handling the crisis. She said the Union Minister had not said anything that was not said by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan about how Kerala was paying the price for the laxity shown by some people during Onam festivities.

Tamil Nadu

Micro management plan proves a game changer in COVID fight

The micro management plan, rolled out by the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) in June, to combat COVID-19 has proved to be a game changer. The civic agency has since been able to effectively coordinate and supervise the prevention work in the 200 wards.

According to GCC Commissioner G. Prakash, the plan has helped in door-to-door surveillance, conduct of fever clinics, supervision through the home quarantine and monitoring system (HQIMS) application, intensification of testing and creation of computerised reports for effective pandemic management. The spatial and temporal analysis of the fever camps has been obtained on a daily basis in over 39,000 streets.

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Sabarimala pilgrim tests positive

A 57-year-old pilgrim bound for the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple in Pathanamthitta tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on Sunday.

The person, a native of Chittur district in Andhra Pradesh tested positive during an antigen test held at the COVID-19 testing centre in Nilackal. As the person was asymptomatic, he has been admitted to a COVID first-line treatment centre (FLTC) in Perinad.

Meanwhile, a 24-year-old pilgrim who had accompanied him tested negative. He, however, was shifted to a COVID care centre for observation. - Staff Reporter

New Delhi

India past COVID peak, says DST panel

India passed its COVID peak in September and, if current trends continue, there will be “minimal cases” by February. These are the findings of a modelling study by a seven-member expert panel on the future course of the pandemic, commissioned by the Department of Science and Technology.

This, however, is premised on no spikes being triggered by festivals or mutations in the virus aiding its spread in winter.

Scientists associated with the study said there would be no gains from lockdowns or from measures harsher than those in place now. A complete shutdown should be considered only at sub-district levels if there is a spike that threatens local healthcare capacity, they said. - Jacob Koshy


Global coronavirus cases surpass the 40 million milestone

Worldwide coronavirus cases crossed 40 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, as the onset of winter in the northern hemisphere fuelled a resurgence in the spread of the disease.

It took just 32 days to go from 30 million global cases to 40 million, compared with the 38 days it took to get from 20 to 30 million, the 44 days between 10 and 20 million, and the three months it took to reach 10 million cases from when the first cases were reported in Wuhan, China, in early January. Record one-day increases in new infections were seen at the end of last week, with global coronavirus cases rising above 400,000 for the first time. - Reuters


COVID-19 cases in Karnataka predicted to touch 1 million by Nov. 12

The number of COVID-19 positive cases in Karnataka is expected to touch one million by November 12, by which time the number of victims may reach 12,800.

These are among the predictions by Jeevan Raksha, an initiative of Proxima, a management consulting firm, with the support of Public Health Foundation of India. By deploying the Pandemic and Epidemic Management System to study COVID-19 trends across India, Jeevan Raksha made two forecasts for Karnataka during August and September, whose margin of error was 3%.

Karnataka’s COVID-19 positive cases, which increased from 2,19,926 on August 16 to 4,40,411 on September 12 and to 7,17,915 on October 12, is expected to touch 10,00,000 on November 12. Positive cases are likely to touch a million when India’s surge is anticipated to reach 92,35,000 on November 12 from 71,65,741 on October 12.

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Vaccine update

Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech to begin trial of intranasal COVID-19 vaccine soon

Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech are expected to pursue late stage clinical trials of intranasal COVID-19 vaccines in the coming months once they receive regulatory approval, the Health Minister has said. Dr.

Harsh Vardhan said the late stage trial generally involves thousands of participants, sometimes 30,000 to 40,000. - Reuters


Europe surges past 250,000 coronavirus deaths as Israel lifts lockdown

Europe passed the milestone of 250,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday as Israel and Australia's second-largest city of Melbourne began to gradually ease their strict lockdowns.

European nations have ratcheted up restrictions on daily life to tackle soaring infections, with a 44% increase in cases this week.

Nighttime curfews on millions came into force in France this weekend and Switzerland required all its citizens to wear masks in indoor public places.

But Israel has managed to flatten its outbreak through draconian measures including a ban on travelling more than a kilometre from home.

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(With inputs from Agencies)

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