Coronavirus updates | Singapore reports 12 more COVID-19 cases

A nurse shows medical equipment at Villa Nueva hospital where patients who might be infected with the new coronavirus, COVID-19, will be cared for, in Villa Nueva municipality, south of Guatemala City, on March 7, 2020   | Photo Credit: AFP

The number of COVID-19 cases has risen worldwide to more than 1,00,000, with 3,500 dead across 95 nations and territories.

Interactive graphic shows the spread of coronavirus — Reuters

In India, the number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 39, with five persons in Kerala being admitted to Pathanamthitta General Hospital with fever on Sunday.

China's new confirmed case count of the coronavirus cases fell by roughly one half, according to official data, as the disease continues to subside in its country of origin.

South Korea on Sunday reported 93 new COVID-19 cases from late Saturday, for a total of 7,134 in the country, Yonhap news agency reported, citing health officials.



Here are the latest updates:


A dozen new cases of coronavirus have been reported in Singapore, taking the total number of people infected by the deadly virus in the country to 150, the Health Ministry here said on Sunday.

Out of the 12 new cases reported, nine are in critical condition in the intensive care units of hospitals.

The latest infections bring Singapore’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 150





Bangladesh on Sunday confirmed its first three cases of coronavirus in the country, said the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR).

The affected people are aged between 20 and 35 and two of them returned from Italy recently, IEDCR Director Meerjady Sabrina told reporters.

- Reuters



Sharad Pawar urges Jaishankar to help Indians stranded in Iran

NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Sunday urged External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar to see that the Indians stranded in Iran in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak there get medical help and general assistance.

Iran is among the countries grappling with the outbreak of coronavirus, which has claimed 194 lives in that country.

“In the wake of the alarming Covid-19 issue, I voiced my concerns to Dr. S. Jaishankar ji, Union Minister of External Affairs regarding more than 40 Indian citizens stranded at Qom city in Iran. They are distressed and in urgent need of medical help and general assistance,” Mr. Pawar tweeted.

The virus has spread to all of Iran’s 31 provinces with 6,566 confirmed cases.

Iran has closed schools and universities until early April, as well as suspended major cultural and sporting events and reduced working hours across the country to slow the contagion.




Beijing International Film Festival postponed

The 10th Beijing International Film Festival (BJIFF) has been postponed until further notice in view of the coronavirus epidemic, the festival’s organising committee announced on Sunday.

The movie gala was scheduled to take place between April 19-26.

The annual festival has been deferred in consideration of the safety and health of all the guests, participants and the public, as well as to coordinate with the overall epidemic prevention work in the city.

“We apologise for the inconvenience caused by the postponement of the event and we will announce the possible date of the festival as soon as possible,” the statement read.



South Africa’s coronavirus toll hits three

The wife of South Africa’s first patient tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday becoming the third confirmed case in the country, the health authority said.

All three of South Africa’s confirmed cases were in a group of 10 people who had travelled to Italy, the health minister said in a statement.

Italy has seen the most deaths from the COVID-19 disease of any country outside China, where the outbreak that has now killed more than 3,500 people and infected over 105,000 worldwide began in December.

Authorities said they had successfully traced all the individuals who went to Italy, although one of the group was not in South Africa.

The test results of the other six group members were expected within 48 hours.

South Africa reported its first case on Thursday. On Sunday the health ministry reported that the patient was now “upbeat and jovial”, and asymptomatic.


Healthy people need not wear masks, says Delhi CM Kejriwal

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that healthy people in the Capital need not wear a mask to protect themselves from COVID-19.

People tended to constantly adjust their masks and touch their face, thereby increasing the risk of infection in case they had already touched contaminated things.

Frequent washing of hands with soap and water was the best preventive measure against COVID-19. “Masks and hand sanitisers only give a false sense of security. There is no substitute for frequent handwashing,” he said.

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AIIMS asked to designate part of new emergency wing for setting up isolation beds

Augmenting facilities to deal with novel coronavirus, the Union Health Ministry has asked the AIIMS administration to designate a part of the new emergency wing of its Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre for setting up of isolation beds for suspected COVID-19 patients.

This isolation facility will have a capacity to hold about 20 patients at a given point of time and once confirmed to be positive, the patient concerned will be transferred to NCI Jajhar for treatment, official sources said.

A separate entry gate has been delineated which will receive patients from the ambulance bay. Based on the history and severity, patients will be triaged as Red, Yellow or Green case.

Besides, the Ministry has asked the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Jhajjar to augment its isolation bed capacity to 125 from the existing 25.

Also, the Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research (JIPMER), Pondicherry has been asked to keep aside 13 beds for isolating patients while six other AIIMS have been directed to keep an isolation bed capacity between 12-15 for coronavirus patients, which can be scaled up to 30 if need arises, the official said.


Coronavirus: 18 Indians among those stranded in cruise ship in Egypt

Eighteen Indians, all from Tamil Nadu, are stranded in cruise ship ‘A Sara’ that remains anchored in the Nile, near the city of Luxor in Egypt, for the fifth day after 33 passengers and 12 crew members were tested positive for COVID-19.

A passenger from Coimbatore, speaking to The Hindu over phone, said that they, most of them aged above 50, were in a state of panic as they were yet to hear from the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Embassy in Egypt about evacuation efforts.

Of the 18 Tamilians, one passenger, an engineer from Chennai, was shifted to a hospital in the port city of Alexandria on Saturday after he developed symptoms of COVID-19.

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Baseless rumours being spread linking broiler chicken with infection, says T.N. Minister

Baseless rumours were being spread in Tamil Nadu linking broiler chicken and COVID-19, Minister for Animal Husbandry Udumalai K. Radhakrishnan said on Sunday.

The Minister participated in a programme (‘kaalkol vizha’) ahead of foundation stone laying for the Tiruppur Medical College Hospital to be held soon. 

Speaking to mediapersons after the event, Mr. Radhakrishnan urged the public to not believe the rumours regarding broiler chicken, as the Department of Health and Family Welfare had clarified that consumption of chicken did not cause COVID-19.

The Minister noted that Amma Mobile Medical Ambulance services offered by the Animal Husbandry Department visited the residences of farmers to provide vaccination for foot-and-mouth disease for cattle.

Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami would lay the foundation stone for the Tiruppur Medical College Hospital on March 15, Mr. Radhakrishnan said.

MLAs from the district, Collector K. Vijayakarthikeyan, Deputy Commissioner of Police V. Badri Narayanan, Tiruppur Government Hospital Dean Valli Sathyamoorthy and other officials were present at the event, a release said.


Arunachal Pradesh bans entry of foreigners

The Arunachal Pradesh government has decided to temporarily suspend issuing Protected Area Permits (PAPs) to foreigners to check the spread of coronavirus, officials said on Sunday.

Foreigners require PAPs to enter the state that shares a border with China.

Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar directed all PAP issuing authorities to suspend the issue of permits till further orders, they said.

“It is learnt that Covid-19 positive cases have been detected in India and the numbers have been increasing. It is also learnt that the spread of the coronavirus in India is primarily from visitors who had history of travelling abroad recently or through tourists who have visited India,” the government order said.

“In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) in Arunachal Pradesh, it has been decided to temporarily suspend issuing Protected Area Permit (PAP)...,” it added.

The move comes days after Sikkim announced similar curbs on visit of foreigners.



Maldives confirms first two coronavirus cases

The Maldives has curbed movement on several resort islands, authorities said on Sunday, after the country reported its first two cases of coronavirus.

The two infected people, who are both staff at the Kuredu Island Resort, tested positive late on Saturday. They are believed to have caught the disease from an Italian tourist who has returned to Italy and tested positive there.

There are more than 1,400 people on the island, split equally between guests and staff, according to the tourism ministry.

Officials at the Kuredu Island Resort were not immediately reachable for comment.



Five more people from Kerala test positive

Five persons from Ranni in Pathanamthitta have been admitted to Pathanamthitta General Hospital with fever and symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

With this, the total number of COVID-19 positive cases rises to 39.

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New York declares state of emergency

Two more people succumbed to COVID-19 in Washington state, officials said on Saturday, bringing the nationwide toll to 19, while the number of confirmed cases in New York jumped by 21 overnight and a cruise ship with infected passengers remained stranded outside San Francisco.

More than half of all U.S. states have reported cases of COVID-19, which originated in China last year and causes the sometimes deadly respiratory illness COVID-19. As the outbreak takes root, daily life has become increasingly disrupted, with concerts and conferences canceled and universities telling students to stay home and take classes online.

Organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference, a high-profile annual gathering that took place in Maryland last month, said on Saturday one of their attendees had tested positive for the virus after exposure prior to the event. The person had no interactions with President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence, who were in attendance, the American Conservative Union said in a statement.

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Officials confirm first COVID-19 case in Washington

A man in his 50s tested positive for COVID-19 — the first presumptively confirmed case in Washington — and another person who travelled through the city has also tested positive in Maryland, officials said.

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser said Saturday the man in the initial case started exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 in late February. He was admitted to a Washington hospital on Thursday and appeared to have no history of international travel and no close contacts to any other confirmed cases across the U.S., Bowser said.

"With his test yielding presumptive positive, D.C. Health has started its investigation in keeping with CDC guidelines,” Bowser said. The investigation includes tracing the man’s movements, though the mayor declined to say where in Washington the man lived.

Virginia recorded its first case Saturday when a U.S. Marine stationed at Fort Belvoir was found to have the virus.


Italy closes cinemas, theatres, museums nationwide in virus lockdown: govt

Italy has closed museums, theatres, cinemas and other entertainment venues nationwide to fight the spread of the coronavirus, said a decree signed on Sunday by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

On top of the forced quarantine of 15 million people in vast areas of northern Italy until April 3, the government has also closed schools, nightclubs and casinos throughout the country, according to the text of the decree published on the government website.

With more than 230 fatalities, Italy has recorded the most deaths from the COVID-19 disease of any country outside China, where the outbreak began in December.

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Argentina announces first COVID-19 death in Latin America

A 64-year-old man died in Argentina as a result of the new coronavirus, the first such death in Latin America, health authorities announced.

The Ministry of Health said the patient lived in Buenos Aires and had been confirmed with COVID-19 after coming down with a cough, fever and sore throat following a recent trip to Europe.

The patient, who suffered kidney failure, had a history of diabetes, hypertension and bronchitis before being infected with the virus, a statement said. He had been in intensive care since being admitted to a public hospital Wednesday.

Officials said the man was not one of the eight confirmed COVID-19 cases previously reported for Argentina, but his case was confirmed by tests Saturday. Research is underway to determine who the patient had been in contact with, authorities said.

Elsewhere in the region, officials in Peru announced five new cases of COVID-19 infection Saturday, raising the country’s total to six. Paraguay reported its first case, and Chile said it now had seven confirmed cases, up from five.

Costa Rica’s Health Ministry confirmed four new cases of coronavirus, in addition to that of a case involving an American woman announced Friday. Her husband was among the new cases.

Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia also have reported confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.


South Korea coronavirus cases increases to 7,134

South Korea on Sunday reported 93 new coronavirus cases from late Saturday, for a total of 7,134 in the country, Yonhap news agency reported, citing health officials.

The increase in cases was lower than the same period a day before, though health officials have warned that numbers could fluctuate as more tests are processed


China reports 27 new virus deaths, lowest rise in cases since January

China on Sunday reported its lowest number of new coronavirus infections since January, with nearly all the 44 new cases in the outbreak epicentre Wuhan.

There were 27 new deaths from the virus, all in Wuhan and the lowest in more than a month, bringing the nationwide toll to 3,097, according to the National Health Commission.

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Italy poised to lock down Lombardy after COVID-19 jump

Italy is set to impose a virtual lockdown on its wealthiest and most populous region, which includes the financial capital Milan, as part of tough new measures to try to contain the COVID-19 outbreak.

The new rules include telling people not to enter or leave Lombardy, which is home to some 10 million people, as well as 11 provinces in four of Italy's 19 other regions, according to a draft decree seen by Reuters.

All museums, gyms, cultural centres, ski resorts and swimming pools will be shut in the targeted areas, according to the decree, which was due to come into force from Sunday but was delayed after local politicians asked for more time to review the restrictions.

The head of the civil protection agency said on Saturday the decree would be presented later in the day, after data showed the number of COVID-19 infections jumped by more than 1,200 in the past 24 hours.

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Facebook says it will ban ads for medical face masks

Facebook is temporarily banning advertisements for medical face masks as part of an effort to prevent use of its platform to exploit people’s concerns about the new coronavirus.

The ban covers advertisements on the social media platform as well as commercial listings on Facebook Marketplace, the company said.

Facebook said it would begin to enforce the ban over the next few days.

Our teams are monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and will make necessary updates to our policies if we see people trying to exploit this public health emergency, Rob Leathern, Facebook’s director of product management, said in a statement issued.

Facebook noted that it previously announced a ban on ads that make claims about the health benefits of a particular product or guaranteed that a product will prevent someone from contracting the disease.

Some public health officials have urged people to stop buying masks. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome M. Adams noted in a tweet on February 29 that masks aren’t effective in protecting the general public but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

In a separate development, Amtrak announced that it was cancelling its nonstop Acela passenger train service between Washington, D.C., and New York City through late May because of a sharp drop in demand.

That service will be cancelled starting Tuesday and through May 28, Amtrak said.

The cancellation does not affect Amtrak’s other high-speed Acela service connecting Washington, New York and Boston, which runs several times per day with limited stops.



U.S. Marine in DC-area contracts virus, says Pentagon

A U.S. Marine in the Washington D.C.-area who recently returned from travel overseas has tested positive for the COVID-19, the Pentagon said on Saturday, in what would be the third confirmed case of a U.S. servicemember contracting the virus.

The other two U.S. troops are in Italy and South Korea.

“A U.S Marine assigned to Fort Belvoir, VA, tested positive today for COVID-19 and is currently being treated at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“The Marine recently returned from overseas where he was on official business. (Defence Secretary Mark) Esper and the White House have been briefed.”



Singapore reports 8 more COVID-19 cases, including one in PM’s ward

Singapore has recorded eight new cases of COVID-19, including one in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s constituency, taking the total number of people infected by the deadly virus in the city-state to 138.

The cases reported on Saturday also include the patrons at a private dinner at an armed forces club and one case was linked to a church.

On Saturday evening, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said one of the new COVID-19 cases is from his constituency of Teck Ghee’s Zone J.

He called on members of the zone to cooperate with the Health Ministry if they are approached and to “share information fully” in order to reduce the risk of transmission.

Effective Saturday, a 14-day suspension was imposed on all activities and classes attended by the confirmed cases at the affected community clubs and residents’ committees.

Giving update on Saturday, the Health Ministry announced precautionary measures at seven community clubs and eight residents’ committees, after it was found that some patients had attended dinner at the army officer club SAFRA Jurong, reported local television network Channel News Asia.


One person in Tamil Nadu tests positive for SARS-CoV-2

One of the samples sent for testing in Tamil Nadu has come back as positive for SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus). The patient, a 45-year-old male from Kancheepuram district, has a history of travelling to Muscat, Oman. He has been admitted to the isolation ward at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, in Chennai.

Coronavirus: Full coverage

Confirming this, top State health officials said he has been advised home quarantine since he landed and reported some symptoms. His samples were sent for testing and the results were received on March 7.

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Coronavirus | How is India containing COVID-19?

On March 8, India’s Health Ministry said the total number of the highly contagious coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country had risen to 34. In December 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had declared an outbreak of the febrile respiratory illness of unknown etiology from Wuhan, Hubei Province of China. The outbreak was epidemiologically linked to the Wuhan Seafood Wholesale Market involving the sale of seafood and live animals. Later named COVID-19, it has now spread to more than 90 countries apart from China, — there are 101,923 confirmed cases and 3,486 deaths from 94 countries, areas and territories (as on March 7, 10:00 CET). WHO has declared the outbreak as a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”

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Private hospitals play safe on isolation wards advisory

There was mixed response to the State government’s advisory to private hospitals on the measures to be taken for treatment of COVID-19 suspect cases and setting up of isolation wards, special counters and training of doctors and para-medical staff to prevent its transmission.

Majority of the private hospital doctors said they are ready to provide treatment to COVID-19 suspect cases if the patients visit their hospitals and after suspecting the virus they would immediately refer the cases to Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad or to the district headquarters hospital for treatment at an isolation ward. “We cannot open special isolation wards in our own hospitals and provide treatment to the patients suffering COVID-19,” said a senior IMA leader of Karimnagar district.

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Gandhi Hospital to provide WiFi for COVID suspects

COVID-19 suspects who are admitted in isolation wards of Gandhi Hospital would be provided with WiFi Internet. Telangana Health Minister Eatala Rajender said that the service is provided as people holding jobs too are admitted there.

To remove apprehensions among people, the Health Minister met the index (first) COVID patient from Hyderabad by visiting the COVID ICU on Friday night. Completely covered in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), he stood beside a glass window facing the patient and spoke to him over phone. Thereafter, he met suspects of the infection at the isolation ward located in seventh floor of the hospital’s main building.

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(With inputs from PTI, AFP, AP, Reuters)

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