Coronavirus updates | March 16, 2020

Police keep vigil on a deserted Juhu beach in Mumbai on Monday as people kept away over COVID-19 fears, March 16, 2020

Police keep vigil on a deserted Juhu beach in Mumbai on Monday as people kept away over COVID-19 fears, March 16, 2020   | Photo Credit: Vijay Bate

Globally, over 6,000 people have died, and more than 162,000 have been infected by COVID-19.

As world continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, the Union Health Ministry on Sunday said there were 110 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India. Reports from States, however, put the figure of persons testing positive for COVID-19 at 123.

Ten persons have so far been discharged after treatment. Globally more than 162,000 are infected and over 6,000 have died.

COVID-19 | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

We have been covering the developments related to the coronavirus pandemic as it unfolded. Here are answers from experts on your queries about the virus, a list of State Helpline numbers, and a map of confirmed cases in India.

The new 24/7 national helpline numbers are 1075 and 1800-112-545 and  011-23978046. Email: ncov2019@gmail.com

Here are the latest updates:

Tamil Nadu | 10.25 pm

Entry into Tamil Nadu Secretariat restricted

With Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami advising to take precautionary measures to check the spread of Coronavirus, Chief Secretary K. Shanmugam on Monday imposed restrictions on the Fort St. George campus, the state’s seat of power.

“All the Departments of Secretariat are requested not to convene meetings unless it is very urgent and not to ask the HoD/Directorate officials to come to Secretariat in a routine manner,” a circular issued by Mr. Shanmugam in the evening said.

Department heads were asked to instruct their staff to remain at home if they have symptoms like cold, fever, cough, shortness of breath/breathing difficulties and consult doctors.

Staff members were urged to frequently wash their hands with soap “at least for 20 seconds as a precaution” and drink hot water.

“All the staff and visitors in the Secretariat will be subjected to thermal scanning in order to diagnose any symptoms of the virus,” it added. A senior official clarified that normal functioning of the government offices would not be affected.

-- Dennis S. Jesudasan

Telangana | 10.15 pm

Fresh case in Telangana, total number is 4

A fresh case of coronavirus was reported on Monday, taking the number of such cases in Telangana to four even as the state government stepped up its preparedness to prevent the spread of the virus.

One person tested positive and the number of positive cases is four, according to a media bulletin on COVID-19.

It said results of 22 samples are awaited.

The four cases include the first positive case of a 24-year-old techie who has been discharged from hospital after recovery.

A report from Karimnagar said 10 people, who came from Indonesia on a religious visit to the town, and three local residents were shifted to the state-run Gandhi hospital in Hyderabad after one of them showed symptoms related to COVID-19, a health official said.

Meanwhile, state Health Minister E Rajender said in a press release that people coming to Telangana from neighbouring Maharashtra by road would be screened for COVID- 19 at checkposts. This is being done as Maharashtra has seen a high number coronavirus cases.

 

Maharashtra | 9.30 pm

With 2 new cases, Maharashtra’s Covid-19 count now 39

The number of Covid-19 patients in Maharashtra rose to 39 on Monday after two people, including a Filipino, tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Yavatmal and Navi Mumbai, said state health department officials.

At 39, Maharashtra has the highest number of coronavirus cases among states in the country.

A 51-year-old woman, one of 40 people who had returned from Dubai, tested positive for the virus in Yavatmal, an official said, adding she was the mother of an IT professional who tested positive for the infection in Pune earlier.

The number of Covid-19 patients in Yavatmal now stands at three, he said.

“In the group of 40 that returned from Dubai, 15 have so far tested positive, 22 have tested negative, and three, from Belgaum in Karnataka, who are not infected, have been placed under home observation,” a state government release said.

The other person who tested positive on Monday is a citizen of the Philippines currently residing in Navi Mumbai, it said.

The release said, so far, seven of 10 persons who returned from the Philippines have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, while the others have not been infected.

Pune | 9.00 pm

No move yet to impose Sec. 144 in Pune

Clarifying that there is no move as yet to impose Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in its totality in Pune district to curb the spread of COVID-19, district authorities said on Monday that the police would only investigate those people under Section 144 (1) who flouted the administration’s orders.

“People relate Section 144 with curfew and think that its imposition will bring all movement to a standstill. Nothing of that sort has been invoked till now. A purely administrative order under Section 144 (1) empowers the district police to investigate all those found violating guidelines issued by the administration to check the spread of COVID-19,” Pune District Colelctor Naval Kishore Ram told The Hindu.

Read more
 

Bengaluru | 8.45 pm

U.S. returnee tests positive for virus, cases touch 8 in Karnataka

A 32-year-old man, who returned from the U.S. via London earlier this month, has tested positive for coronavirus making it the eighth case in Karnataka, the health department said on Monday.

He was on home quarantine, and is now admitted to an isolation facility.

“One positive case was confirmed today [Monday]. The total number of cases in the State is eight, including one death… He had returned from the U.S. via London on March 8 by the same flight as patient number-4 who tested positive,” a statement said.

He was under home quarantine, and is now put in an isolation facility, it said, adding that his two primary contacts were wife and housemaid, and all preventive measures and contact tracing have been initiated, the statement said.

Further details would be shared on March 17, it added.

The health department bulletin also said the five other COVID-19 positive patients are in isolation at designated hospital in Bengaluru and all are stable.

New Delhi | 8:20 pm

ASI-protected monuments, central museums to be shut till March 31

All ASI-protected monuments and central museums across the country will be shut till March 31 in view of the threat of COVID-19, Union Culture Minister Prahlad Patal said on Monday. An order regarding the same will be issued soon, he said.

New Delhi | 7:55 pm

Share tech-driven solutions to tackle coronavirus: Prime Minister Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday took to Twitter, asking people to share technology-driven solutions for coronavirus.

“Harnessing innovation for a healthier planet. A lot of people have been sharing technology-driven solutions for COVID-19. I would urge them to share them on @mygovindia,” he said.

The Prime Minister said such efforts can help many. The 'COVID 19 Solution Challenge' is being hosted on the mygov.in website.

Ahmedabad | 7:50 pm

Gujarat government orders closure of national parks, sanctuaries

Gujarat government on Monday ordered closure of national parks, sanctuaries and conservation reserves in the State in view of the COVID-19 threat.

A circular issued by the Chief Wildlife Warden Shyamal Tikadar said the State’s national parks, sanctuaries and conservation reserves will remain closed till March 29. It said the sites under lockdown include Sakkarbaug Zoological Park in Junagadh, Devaliya Safari Park and Ambardi Safari Park. The newly-built Sardar Patel Zoological Park at Kevadiya, close to the Statue of Unity, will also remain closed, it said.

The release added that permissions granted under Section 28 of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, for film shooting, research etc shall also remain suspended till March 29, and fees paid for the same online will be refunded.

No cases have been detected in Gujarat as of now.

New Delhi | 7.30 pm

New travel restrictions in place

Travel of passengers from EU countries, European Free Trade Association, Turkey, U.K. to India prohibited from March 18, the Heath Ministry announced on Monday. It has also imposed the following measures to avoid exposure to COVID-19.

  • Expanding compulsory quarantine for minimum 14 days for passengers coming from or transiting UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait.
  • After Group of Ministers meeting, govt proposes social distancing measures to be in force till March 31.
  • Non-essential travel should be avoided; buses, trains and aeroplanes to maximize social distancing in public transport.
  • Encourage private sector organisations, employers to allow employees to work from home wherever feasible.
  • Travel restrictions have been further tightened to prevent spread of COVID-19 from high-risk areas.
  • Contact tracing of positive coronavirus cases led to identification of over 5,200 contacts who are under surveillance.
  • Local authorities to have dialogue with opinion leaders, religious leaders to regulate mass gatherings.

Meanwhile, ICMR’s Dr. Gangakhedhar sais that currently there is no evidence that we are landing into community transmission.

New Delhi | 7.30 pm

New toll-free number, email ID for queries on COVID-19

As India sees a surge in novel coronavirus cases, the Union Health Ministry on Monday activated a toll-free 24x7 national helpline number, 1075, to address queries related to the infection.

The previous helpline number, 011-239 78046, will also remain operational, the Ministry officials said.

Besides the toll-free numbers, the Ministry also issued a helpline email ID ncov2019@gmail.com.

New Delhi | 6.50 pm

MEA launches helplines for those seeking assistance

The Ministry of External Affairs on Monday launched helplines for those seeking assistance in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

“All hands on deck! @MEAIndia’s helplines for COVID-19 Control Centre are open. Control Room: 1800118797 (toll free), +91- 11- 23012113, +91- 11- 23014104, +91- 11- 23017905,” MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted.

He also shared a fax number — +91- 011-23018158 — and an email address -— covid19@mea.gov.in -- for those wanting to reach out to the ministry in connection with issues related to the outbreak.

Additional Secretary Dammu Ravi has been appointed as the point person for coordinating the response to COVID-19. He has four other officers and staff members to support him, officials said.

“Our missions abroad are working round the clock and responding to queries from Indian nationals abroad. Missions have set up their helplines and are proactively responding to queries over phone and emails as well as using social media platforms to reach the Indian community members in these countries,” an official had said.

New Delhi | 6.45 pm

Delhi HC limits its functioning, few Benches to take up only urgent matters

The Delhi High Court decided on Monday to limit its functioning due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and hold hearing of only few Benches till March 20.

It decided that the functioning of the high court stands restricted till March 20, when the situation will be reviewed by the committee.

On March 17 and March 19, four Division Benches, four single judge Benches for civil jurisdiction and three single judge Benches each for criminal and original jurisdiction would hear “only urgent matters”.

On March 18 and 20, three Division Benches, three single judge Benches for civil jurisdiction and three single judge Benches each for criminal and original jurisdiction would hear “only urgent matters”.

Chennai | 6.35 pm

Educational institutions, theatres, malls across T.N. to remain closed until March 31

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami ordered closure of all educational institutions across the State till March 31. He also ordered the closure of all cinema halls, malls, amusement parks, swimming pools, gymnasiums, zoos and museums across the State until March-end.

— Dennis S. Jesudasan

The State government also imposed restrictions on weddings, banned public meetings and processions, among others, until March 31.

Read more
 

Bengaluru | 6.30 pm

IISc announces 15-day lockdown

The Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru has suspended all academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for 15 days following the coronavirus threat.

These include classes, examinations, seminars, conferences, visits and laboratory work, according to a notice issued by the institute’s Registrar.

“All students are instructed to proceed to their homes before noon of March 16, 2020 and await further instructions,” it said.

“The residents of the campus and the faculty should stay home, avoid social gatherings and maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus,” the notice added.

Mumbai | 6.10 pm

Ajanta-Ellora, Siddhivinayak, Tuljapur temples closed

Authorities in Maharashtra, which has registered the highest number of coronavirus positive cases in India, have decided to close some prominent tourist and religious attractions as a precautionary measure.

The world-famous Ajanta and Ellora caves near Aurangabad, the popular Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai and the Tuljabhawani temple in Osmanabad district would remain closed in view of the coronavirus situation in the State, officials said.

Entry restrictions to Mantralaya, the State Secretariat in south Mumbai which sees thousands of visitors daily, will also be in force, Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said.

New Delhi | 6.05 pm

IOC official says no deadline for decision on Olympics

The leader of the IOC’s coordination commission for the Tokyo Olympics said there is no May deadline to cancel the games and he remains confident the event will go ahead despite sports coming to a virtual standstill globally amid the coronavirus outbreak.

John Coates, who will have to go into government-mandated self-isolation when he returns to Australia this week from Olympic business in Europe, told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper: “It’s all proceeding to start on the 24th of July.”

Dick Pound, a former IOC vice president, said in an interview with The Associated Press last month that the end of May loomed as a possible deadline for the IOC to make a call on the Tokyo Olympics.

Agra | 6.00 pm

Agra: Woman who fled hospital tests positive for coronavirus

Agra (U.P.), A 25-year-old woman, whose husband in Bengaluru is hospitalised with coronavirus, has tested positive for COVID-19 in Agra, three days after she fled from a hospital without informing authorities, officials said on March 16.

So far, there have been seven positive cases in the Taj city and five of the patients have recovered from the novel virus while two, including this woman, are under treatment, the Health Department officials said.

Around 20 people related to these two patients have been quarantined for observation and in order to check the spread of the virus, they added.

According to the officials, this woman and her husband returned from their honeymoon in Europe earlier this month and landed in Mumbai. From there they went to Bengaluru, where her husband, who works for an IT company, tested positive for coronavirus and was hospitalised.

The woman then left for Delhi and later came to her parents’ house here and allegedly did not cooperate with the health department officials on March 12 for a coronavirus test despite being “highly suspected”.

“The woman has tested positive for the coronavirus on Sunday and has been hospitalised for treatment. Eight of her family members have also been quarantined. There is one more man who has tested positive earlier and is undergoing treatment. Eleven of his family members have been quarantined. So far, there have been seven positive cases of COVID-19 in Agra, five of them have been treated and sent home,” a Health Department official told PTI.

Ranchi | 5.55 pm

Jharkhand announces closure of educational institutions till April 14

Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren announced closure of all educational institutions in the State till April 14 as a precautionary measure in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Informing the Jharkhand Assembly about this, Mr. Soren said the shutdown will be applicable on government as well as private educational institutions, besides coaching centres and hostels, starting March 17.

He, however, said students from the poor family background will be allowed to stay in hostels with the government looking after them.

The Chief Minister also said that directions would be issued to all private establishments not to cut pay of their employees if anybody did not turn up for duty on count of coronavirus.

Mr. Soren said that 175 of a total of 488 people who returned home in the State did not show any symptoms of the virus, while the rest were under close observation.

Mumbai | 5.50 pm

Maharashtra Raj Bhavan tour suspended till March 31

The Maharashtra Raj Bhavan tour for citizens has been suspended till March 31 due to the novel coronavirus threat, an official said.

The tour of the sprawling complex, the residence of the state governor, is well patronised and 20 people are let in every day after prior booking, the official informed.

“The tour booking for April is full but we will try to adjust those who missed out on it this month,” he added.

It was introduced in 2015.

Kolkata | 5.45 pm

Bengal civic polls deferred amid coronavirus scare: SEC

Civic polls in West Bengal, including for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), have been postponed “for the time being” in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak, a senior official said on Monday.

The decision was taken at an all-party meeting called to decide the dates for the elections, State Election Commissioner Sourav Das said.

“We have decided to defer the civic polls for the time being because of the coronavirus outbreak. We will again hold a meeting to take a call on the matter after 15 days,” he said.

Maharashtra  | 5.35 pm

2-hour work day in Bombay HC from March 17

The Bombay High Court and its Benches at Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa shall function for only two hours in a day from March 17 until further orders in view of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The HC on March 16 issued a circular after a meeting held by acting Chief Justice B.P. Dharmadhikari and other senior judges.

The functioning of the high court at its principal bench, in Mumbai, and other benches in Nagpur, Aurangabad and Goa shall be from noon to 2 p.m. from March 17 till further orders, the circular issued by HC Registrar S.B. Agarwal said.

It added that all district courts and magistrates shall also endeavor that their working time not exceed three hours a day, and that they take up for hearing only urgent matters.

West Bengal | 5.00 p.m.

West Bengal invokes Epidemic Diseases Act, closure of educational institutions extended till April 15

The West Bengal government on Monday invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and extended the closure of educational institutions from March 31 to April 15.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who held a meeting with different stakeholders, said that the Act has been invoked to ensure that people with symptoms of COVID-19 remain in isolation.

Ms Banerjee said that the State government has created a separate fund of Rs 200 crore. The fund will be used for purchasing masks, protective gear used for medical staff and upgrading the infrastructure of health facilities.

The Chief Minister advised that all auditoriums and cinema halls remain closed and said all steps should be taken to restrict public gathering. However, she said that malls and markets should not be completely closed as people  will run out of supplies.

- Shiv Sahay

Andhra Pradesh

Parties fume at A.P. Government’s insouciance about COVID-19

Major political parties joined in flaying the State government for making light of the COVID-19 scare that is rocking the entire world. The government came under fire for gross unpreparedness, even as its neighbours Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka had pulled up their socks to face the pandemic.

Read more
 

Tamil Nadu

 

Situation under control, says T.N. Health Minister

Attempting to allay apprehensions raised by the DMK over the spread of COVID-19 in Tamil Nadu, the ruling AIADMK government on Monday reiterated that the situation was “under control” and there was no need to panic.

However, the DMK urged the Chief Minister to hold video conference meetings with his counterparts in neighbouring States.

Read more
 

4.50 p.m.

EU leaders to hold video conference tomorrow

Leaders of the European Union will take part in an emergency video conference on Tuesday to discuss measures to contain COVID-19 that has affected thousands in Europe, European Council chief Charles Michel announced on Monday via Twitter.

"I have decided to call a video conference with the European Council members on Tuesday 17 March to follow up on our #EUCO actions on #COVID19 Containing the spread of the virus, providing sufficient medical equipment, boosting research and limiting the economic fallout is key," Mr. Michel tweeted.

 

COVID-19 could impact India through trade channel: RBI

COVID-19 could impact India through trade channel, Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das has said.

The growth momentum of India could be impacted due to global growth. Tourism, airline, hospitality industry are suffering, Mr. Das says.

RBI has been taking calibrated measures in the past few days. RBI has several policy instruments at its command and stands ready.

"We propose to conduct another US-dollar sell buy swap on March 23. RBI will conduct Long Term Repo Operation (LTRO) of Rs 1 lakh crore," he says.

He also urges people to use digital transaction over cash. "We have advised banks to offer more and more digital payments," he says.

I am not ruling out any possibility, says Mr. Das when asked about rate cut.

Maharashtra | 4.15 p.m.

Maharashtra postpones all university and school examinations, except classes 10 and 12

Maharashtra government postpones all university and school examinations, except standard 10th and 12th, until further notice, said State health minister Rajesh Tope.

All scheduled elections in State also deferred for the next three months.

Kerala | 3.50 pm

 

79 booked for swarming Kochi airport to welcome TV show participant

Despite warnings against public gatherings in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, a group of over 70 people swarmed the Cochin International Airport late on Sunday to welcome Bigg Boss participant Rajith Kumar, resulting in swift police action against them.

Read more
 

Maharashtra | 3.35 p.m.

 

Maharashtra govt. to restrict large gatherings at shrines, religious sites

Dadar beach in Mumbai wears a deserted look with the general public keeping away due to COVID-19 fears, Monday, March 16, 2020

Dadar beach in Mumbai wears a deserted look with the general public keeping away due to COVID-19 fears, Monday, March 16, 2020   | Photo Credit: Aadesh Choudhari

 

Maharashtra government on Monday decided to restrict large gatherings at shrines and religious sites, including temples, mosques, churches and others until March end.

The government will also apply a unique stamp, identity number at the back of the hand of those who are currently quarantined for easy identification in public places. Chief Minister Uddhav Thakceray has empowered district officials to take all necessary measures, including closing of discos and pubs if needed, in both rural and urban areas.

The government has also restricted all Cabinet and State ministers from entering government offices and State secretariat in large numbers. The general public is also restricted from entering the State headquarters. The government has also restricted ministers' entourage to less than 10 persons, including PA and PS.

Mr. Thackeray signed the order on Monday afternoon.

 

 

Watch | COVID-19: Masks and sanitisers are now essential commodities

A video on what the Essential Commodities Act is and what commodities come under the Act.

 

 

Tripura

Tripura declares closure of educational institutions till March 31

Tripura government on Monday announced closure of all educational institutions in the State in an attempt to stem spread of COVID-19. Education Minister Ratan Lal Nath, who announced the decision at a press conference, informed that the closure would remain effective till March 31.

Read more
 

Bihar | 3.10 p.m.

 

Bihar government to bear full expenses of treatment of Covid-19 patients in State

The Bihar government will bear full expenses of treatment of coronavirus patients in the State, says Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. In the event of COVID-19 claiming a life, the next of kin of each deceased will get ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh, Mr Kumar said.

- PTI

West Bengal | 3.05 p.m.

West Bengal Assembly budget session cut short

The Budget Session of the West Bengal Assembly will be cut short over the coronavirus scare and the House will not meet after Tuesday, Speaker Biman Banerjee said on Monday.

At an all-party meeting in the Assembly premises that was attended by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee and floor leaders of opposition parties, the speaker said the second part of the session, which commenced on Friday, will be truncated as part of the precautionary measures being taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Those who attended the meeting said all agenda except for three Bills, including the appropiation Bill, will be put on the back-burner.

Earlier, Bihar budget session too was cut short.

- PTI

2.35 p.m.

RBI governor Shaktikanta Das to hold press conference at 4 p.m.

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das is holding a press conference at 4 p.m. on Monday as market mayhem continues due to concerns coronavirus pandemic.

There are speculations that Mr. Das may announce a rate cut.

If it happens, this will be the first inter-meeting rate reduction since the monetary policy committee was instituted in February 2016.

The hurried presser comes amid widespread call for a rate cut following similar steps by the world’s leading central banks.

The US Federal Reserve has cut the policy rates to near zero levels in a span of 10 days.

Similarly, the Bank of England has also slashed the rates by 50 basis points, and so did the European Central Bank.

Many analysts, over the past week, have said the RBI has legroom to cut rates to the tune of 65 bps by June. Some like Barclays and BofA have also spoken about the likelihood of an inter-meeting cut (before the April 3 policy meeting).

Between February and October 2019, the RBI had cut the policy rates by a cumulative 135 bps to a nine-year low of 5.15%.

- PTI

New Delhi

 

Public gatherings of over 50 not allowed in Delhi, says Kejriwal

A gathering of more than 50 people will not be allowed in Delhi, in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak, to prevent the community spread, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Monday.

“This also applies to people protesting; religious, social, political — a gathering of more than 50 people will not be allowed,” he told a press conference.

Read more
 

 

 

India to stop shooting of all film, television and digital productions from March 19-30

The Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) on Sunday called for a halt of shoots of all entertainment formats in a bid to curb the coronavirus outbreak.

A joint meeting of the leading bodies — IMPPA, Western India Film Producers’ Association (WIFPA), Indian Film and TV Producers Council (IFTPC), Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) and Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) — arrived at the unanimous decision to stop shooting of films, TV serials, web series and all other entertainment, including digital formats, from March 19 to March 31.

 

Most airlines will be bankrupt by May-end unless there is coordinated govt-industry action, says CAPA

Most airlines in the world will be bankrupt by the end of May and only a coordinated government and industry action right now can avoid the catastrophe, said global aviation consultancy firm CAPA in a note on Monday.

“As the impact of the coronavirus and multiple government travel reactions sweep through our world, many airlines have probably already been driven into technical bankruptcy, or are at least substantially in breach of debt covenants,” it stated.

Across the world, airlines have announced drastic reduction in their operations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. For example, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines stated on Sunday that it would be grounding 300 aircraft in its fleet and reduce flights by 40 per cent.

CAPA said, “By the end of May-2020, most airlines in the world will be bankrupt. Coordinated government and industry action is needed - now - if catastrophe is to be avoided.”

Cash reserves are running down quickly as fleets are grounded and “what flights there are operate much less than half full”, it added.

“Forward bookings are far outweighed by cancellations and each time there is a new government recommendation it is to discourage flying. Demand is drying up in ways that are completely unprecedented. Normality is not yet on the horizon,” it said.

CAPA said the failure to coordinate the future will result in protectionism and much less competition.

“The alternative does not bear thinking about. An unstructured and nationalistic outcome will not be survival of the fittest.

“It will mostly consist of airlines that are the biggest and the best-supported by their governments. The system will reek of nationalism. And it will not serve the needs of the 21st century world. That is not a prospect that any responsible government should be prepared to contemplate,” the consultancy firm said.

- PTI

Tamil Nadu

 

Chennai’s protests in Old Washermanpet temporarily suspended

In a precautionary measure against a possible COVID-19 outbreak, the Federation of Tamil Nadu Islamic and Political Organisation on Monday, temporarily suspended its Shaheen Bagh-style protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Population Register and National Register of Citizens which have been taking place in Old Washermanpet for the last 31 days.

Read more
 

2.20 p.m.

 

No stone being left unturned to ensure people are healthy: Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said there has been a coordinated response to the coronavirus outbreak and asserted that “no stone is being left unturned” to ensure people are healthy.

He also tagged tweets of various people highlighting the different aspects of how India is combating COVID-19.

In a series of tweets with the hashtag ‘India Fights Corona’, Mr. Modi said the encouragement from people highlighting the steps being taken to combat the virus is boosting the morale of all those doctors, nurses, municipal workers, airport staff and all other remarkable people at the forefront of the fight.

Responding to a tweet by a man saying that he has “cancelled all my meetings and suspended all business travel”, the Prime Minister said, “A wise call. Avoiding non-essential travel and minimising social outings are welcome steps.”

“At all levels, various authorities are working in sync to ensure COVID-19 does not spread. No stone is being left unturned to ensure people are healthy,” Mr. Modi said.

“I am sure our citizens will not do anything that puts the lives of others in danger. Our doctors, nurses, healthcare workers are putting great efforts. They are out there, helping people. We will always cherish their contribution."

Responding to a Twitter user who said the government is systematically handling travellers to avoid “corona contagion”, Mr. Modi said, “Doing our best to ensure everyone is healthy and those showing symptoms get proper care.”

"It is a united and coordinated response from everyone and this shows the strong spirit of the nation in such situations."

- PTI

1.40 pm | Maharashtra

Uddhav mulling total lock down as COVID-19 cases reach 37

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is holding an emergency review meet with state health officials after four new positive cases of COVID-19 were reported from Mumbai and Navi Mumbai and reports of 11 patients leaving hospitals without informing authorities, on Monday.

Sources present in the meeting being held at Varsha, Chief Minister's official residence, said Mr Thackeray is discussing two proposals of the state Health Department, which include a proposal to totally lock down the state and cancelling all examinations near future.

''We are discussing possibilities of cancelling all examinations across the State in this meet,'' Health Minister Rajesh Tope said.  

Senior state officials said the meeting is being attended by Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta, cabinet ministers Rajesh Tope and Aaditya Thackeray among other district officials joining via video conferencing.

12.35 pm | Maharashtra

Four new positive COVID-19 cases have been reported from Maharashtra. This includes three in Mumbai and one in Navi Mumbai.

The total count in the State now stands at 37.

12.20 pm | Pakistan

Bangladesh tour of Pakistan cricket team postponed indefinitely

The Pakistan and Bangladesh cricket boards decided to postpone the upcoming One-Day International and Test in Karachi indefinitely amid the COVID-19 pandemic which has derailed sporting calendars globally.

Bangladesh were due to arrive in Karachi on March 29 to play an ODI on April 1 and the second ICC World Test Championship Test from April 9-5.

“The two boards will now work together to identify a future opportunity to complete the ICC World Test Championship commitment,” the PCB said in a statement.

Here is a list of global sports events affected due to coronavirus outbreak.

12.10 pm | Bihar

 

Bihar Assembly’s Budget session truncated in view of coronavirus pandemic. No sittings after today, says Speaker Vijay Kumar Chaudhary.

 

12 pm | USA

Trump calls on Americans to cease hoarding food, supplies

President Donald Trump called on people to stop hoarding groceries and other supplies as one of the nation’s most senior public health officials urged Americans to act with more urgency to protect themselves and others against the coronavirus.

"You don’t have to buy so much,” Trump said at a news conference. “Take it easy. Just relax.”

Trump assured Americans, after speaking with leading grocery chain executives, that grocers would remain open and that the supply chain remained healthy. Speaking at the same White House news conference, Vice President Mike Pence urged Americans to buy only the groceries they need for the week ahead.

- AP

 

11.50 am | Mumbai

Life in the time of corona...

Despite lockdown, the week starts as usual in Mumbai. Daily commuters at Borivali station to catch the local trains on Monday, March 16, 2020.

Despite lockdown, the week starts as usual in Mumbai. Daily commuters at Borivali station to catch the local trains on Monday, March 16, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

Daily commuters wears masks in a bid to stay away from infections while travelling in a crowded Mumbai local train on Monday in Thane.

Daily commuters wears masks in a bid to stay away from infections while travelling in a crowded Mumbai local train on Monday in Thane.   | Photo Credit: Vibhav Birwatkar

 

 

11.40 am | India

'Most airlines will be bankrupt by May unless there is coordinated govt-industry action'

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, most airlines in the world will be bankrupt by the end of May and only a coordinated government and industry action right now can avoid the catastrophe, said global aviation consultancy firm CAPA in a note.

“As the impact of the coronavirus and multiple government travel reactions sweep through our world, many airlines have probably already been driven into technical bankruptcy, or are at least substantially in breach of debt covenants,” it stated.

Across the world, airlines have announced drastic reduction in their operations in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. For example, Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines stated on Sunday that it would be grounding 300 aircraft in its fleet and reduce flights by 40%.

- PTI

11.30 am | Delhi

Thermal screening of lawyers, litigants, scribes at Supreme Court

Lawyers, litigants and media personnels were thermal-screened in the Supreme Court amid coronavirus scare.

The top court, which has taken several precautionary measures in wake of the pandemic has allowed only restricted entry of lawyers, litigants and journalists in the courtroom.

Long queues were seen at the entry gate with health officials thermal screening the lawyers, litigants and journalists.

There was also confusion among the officials as to who should be allowed inside the premises and the courtroom due to restricted entry. Only lawyers and litigants whose matters were listed for the day were allowed to enter the courtrooms.

Only six of the total 15 Benches of the apex court will be sitting and only 12 matters each will be taken up today.

- PTI

11.20 am | Rajasthan

Health worker arrested in Rajasthan for spreading fake news about coronavirus

A health worker posted in Rajasthan’s Dausa district was arrested and his services were terminated for allegedly spreading fake news about the coronavirus, police said.

Anil Tank, a contractual employee who worked as a senior treatment supervisor in Mahuwa, was found circulating fake news related to positive number of COVID-19 cases being found in the State and isolation wards being set up to treat the patients, they said.

Mahuwa circle Deputy Superintendent of Police Shankar Lal said Tank was arrested for his “statement conducing to public mischief“.

Dausa Chief Medical and Health Officer Pooranmal Meena said, “The employee was terminated from the service for spreading rumour on social media.”

- PTI

11.10 am | Hyderabad

Wonderla Holidays to temporarily close Hyderabad park

Amusement park operator Wonderla Holidays said it has decided to temporarily close its Hyderabad park from March 15 to 21 due to the rising coronavirus scare in Telangana.

“In view of the emerging situation in the State of Telangana, consequent to the reported coronavirus cases, the company has decided to temporarily close the Hyderabad park from 15-21 March, 2020,” it said in a filing to BSE.

The decision, it said, has been taken in accordance with the safety and pre-cautionary guidelines outlined by the State government to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19.

- PTI

11 am | Tamil Nadu

Colleges in Tamil Nadu begin declaring summer holidays

Even as the government passed an order, declaring holiday for kindergarten and primary school students across the State from Monday until the end of the month in view of the COVID-19 epidemic, colleges too began declaring holiday in order to make sure students were safe.

SRM Institute of Science and Technology and VIT, Vellore have declared summer vacation for their students. While SRMIST has closed the Institute up to March 31 and a detailed circular will be up on the institute’s website on Monday afternoon, VIT has advanced its summer vacation.

Read more
 

10.40 am | West Bengal

Political parties in Bengal call for postponement of civic polls

The major political parties in West Bengal have urged the State Election Commission to postpone the upcoming civic polls in the State.

The State Election Commission has called a meeting  on Monday with political parties  to discuss the issue. 

"In the wake of such a crisis, we will appeal to the State Election Commission to defer the upcoming municipal elections. In fighting this, academician, political parties must stand together shoulder to shoulder with the people we represent," a statement from Trinamool Congress said.

State's BJP president Dilip Ghosh said that in the wake of the crisis the party would support a decision of deferring the polls. "We are ready for polls, but in the wake of this crisis, if for the larger interest of the people, the State government and SEC takes a decision, we will support it," Mr. Ghosh said.

Leadership of Left and Congress parties, which are likely to contest the polls together are also willing to support the deferring of the polls.

Earlier, Andhra Pradesh too decided to postpone the local body polls by 6 weeks due to COVID-19 threat.

10.10 am | Los Angeles, USA

James Bond actor Olga Kurylenko tests positive for coronavirus

Ukrainian-born actor-model Olga Kurylenko has revealed that she has tested positive for COVID-19.

Olga Kurylenko

Olga Kurylenko   | Photo Credit: Dan Steinberg

The actor, best known for starring in 2008’s James Bond film Quantum of Solace and 2013’s sci-fi movie Oblivion, took to Instagram on Sunday to share her diagnosis.

Kurylenko, 40, said she had been ill for “almost a week”.

“Locked up at home after having tested positive for Coronavirus,” she wrote alongside a photo showing a view through a window.

“I’ve actually been ill for almost a week now. Fever and fatigue are my main symptoms. Take care of yourself and do take this seriously!” she added.

Read more
 

10 am | India

Sensex tanks over 2,000 points in global equity carnage; Nifty gives up 9,400

Equity benchmark Sensex plummeted over 2,000 points and the Nifty gave up the 9,400 level in opening session on Monday after the Federal Reserve’s rate cut fanned concerns over the impact of COVID-19 on world economy.

The rupee too depreciated 41 paise to 74.16 against U.S. dollar in morning session.

Resuming its downward spiral, domestic BSE Sensex sank 2004.20 points or 5.88% to 32,099.28 in morning session. Similarly, the NSE Nifty cracked 596.25 points, or 5.99%, to 9,358.95.

According to traders, volatility heightened in global markets as U.S. Federal Reserve’s interest rate cut stoked concerns over an impending economic recession.

Read more
 

 

9.40 am | Kochi, Kerala

How Kerala managed to halt a take-off to isolate COVID-19 positive tourist

For the district administration, it was a race against time on Sunday to stop the Emirates flight bound for Dubai, which was to carry a UK national, who tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the district administration, the news of the British national being at the Cochin International Airport was received by District Collector S. Suhas only 15 minutes before the flight was to take off. Swift action followed to ensure that the tourist was isolated and others at risk evacuated.

By the time instructions were issued to hold the flight, all the crew had boarded the plane, but the race was won in time to ensure that a crisis-like situation was avoided.

Read more
 

9.30 am | Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala

After doctor tests positive, SCTIMST heads for shutdown

Patient-care activities at Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) is on the verge of a shutdown after several senior doctors and an unknown number of health-care personnel and patients were exposed to the SARS CoV-2 from a doctor colleague of theirs who had returned from Spain and had been working amongst them.

The said case had been officially declared as positive for COVID-19 by the Health Minister on Sunday evening, without divulging details.

Read more
 

9.20 am | Iran

Fourth batch of 53 Indians evacuated from Iran: Jaishankar

A fourth batch of 53 Indians returned to India from Iran on Monday, taking the total number of people evacuated from the coronavirus-hit country to 389.

Workers unload the luggage of Indian nationals evacuated from Iran at Jaisalmer Military Station.

Workers unload the luggage of Indian nationals evacuated from Iran at Jaisalmer Military Station.   | Photo Credit: PTI

 

This comes a day after over 230 Indians were brought back from Iran to New Delhi and quarantined at the Indian Army Wellness Centre in Jaisalmer, the third batch to be evacuated from that country.

“Fourth batch of 53 Indians - 52 students and a teacher - has arrived from Tehran and Shiraz, Iran. With this, a total of 389 Indians have returned to India from Iran. Thank the efforts of the team @India_in_Iran and Iranian authorities,” Jaishankar tweeted.

Read more

 

9.10 am | India

Dos and don'ts from the Health Ministry

With several new cases of COVID-19 being confirmed in India, the Health Ministry has stepped up efforts to check the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

Here's a video on how we can protect ourselves and others, a list of dos and dont's released by the Health Ministry.

 

 

9 am | New York, USA

 

New York bars, restaurants to be take-out only: mayor

New York ordered all its bars and restaurants to close except for take-outs, in the latest dramatic shutdown as authorities worldwide struggle to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

“I will sign an Executive Order limiting restaurants, bars and cafes to food take-out and delivery,” city mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement, calling for “a wartime mentality.”

“Nightclubs, movie theaters, small theater houses, and concert venues must all close.” New York has already banned gatherings of more than 500 people, including in Broadway theatres.

- AFP

8.40 am | Odisha

Odisha reports first case as student who returned from Italy tests positive

A student who returned from Italy and belonging to the city tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday — the first reported case in Odisha.

After tests conducted at the Regional Medical Research Centre confirmed the case, the student is being kept under observation in an isolated ward in Capital Hospital here.

His father and domestic help have also been kept in isolation and their blood and swab have been sent for test.

Read more

 

8.20 am

 

Testing is the easiest thing to do, says community health expert

Gagandeep Kang, Director of the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute, who has extensive experience in working on community health and played a key role in developing an indigenous rotavirus vaccine, says India should be testing many more persons for symptoms of COVID-19 than it is now.

"As a first step, India has been tracing importations (cases with a travel history from abroad). We are now beginning to test for influenza-like illnesses through the influenza surveillance network. We are told that about 150-250 samples were tested in February by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and in the coming week they are going to be doing moreof that testing. Singapore went about finding cases and tracking them. Finding contacts and tracing was the best step. South Korea expanded drive-through testing. After a while people started to present themselves for testing. It was made easy for people to get tested. We are in a situation now that if you land up at a private hospital with what absolutely fits the case definition, you will be referred to a government hospital. There are media reports that some in Tamil Nadu are being turned away even if they have symptoms and a travel history," says Ms. Kang.

Read more
 

 

8 am | Italy

Italian architect behind world stadiums dies of virus at 92

Vittorio Gregotti, an Italian architect who helped design the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics stadium, died on Sunday at the age of 92 after catching the novel coronavirus, Italian media said.

Gregotti died of pneumonia after being hospitalised in Milan having contracted COVID-19, the the Corriere della Sera newspaper and AGI news agency reported.

He also designed the Merassi stadium in Genoa for the 1990s World Cup in Italy, and the Arcimboldi Opera Theatre in Milan, a futuristic structure built to allow the season to continue while the La Scala underwent renovation in 2002-2004.

Other highlights of a career that also saw him build a housing district in Shanghai include the Belem cultural centre in Portugal and the Grand Theatre de Provence in France.

Gregotti's wife Mariana Mazza has been hospitalised at the same Milan hospital, Corriere della Sera said, without providing details on why.

- AFP

7.45 am | Italy

Pope in dramatic visit to empty Rome to pray for end of virus

Pope Francis ventured into a deserted Rome on Sunday to pray at two shrines for the end of the coronavirus pandemic, as the Vatican said his Easter services will be held without the public for the first time.

Francis left the Vatican unannounced to pray at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore and then walked along one of Rome's main streets to visit St. Marcello church to pray before a crucifix that was used in a procession when the plague hit Rome in 1522.

A Vatican statement said he prayed for an end to the pandemic and also for the sick, their families and health providers and workers keeping pharmacies and food stories open amid a national lockdown.

A Vatican picture showed the pope and a small security detail walking on an empty Via del Corso, which is usually packed with shoppers and people taking strolls on Sunday.

- Reuters

 

7.30 am

Data | India's coronavirus testing rates are among the lowest in the world

While most of China’s neighbours have been able to contain the spread of COVID-19, countries far from it are seeing an exponential surge in cases. Early testing and wider coverage distinguish such Asian countries from Western countries. However, India is dangerously placed as it has among the lowest testing rates.

Read more
 

(With inputs from Agencies)

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 4:05:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-live-updates-march-16-2020/article31079393.ece

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