As many as 45 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported across India, after six people were tested positive for the virus in Kerala and two fresh cases in Karnataka and Punjab. Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja said the State had been put on high alert in the wake of the new cases.
Explained: How is India containing COVID-19?
Meanwhile, China, the epicentre of the virus, has reported 22 new deaths from the deadly coronavirus, the lowest number of fatalities in more than a month, taking the death toll to 3,119.
Here are the latest updates:
Pune couple tests positive for COVID-19
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) made its way to Maharashtra with two Pune residents with travel history to Dubai testing positive on Monday. State health officials said that the husband and wife had returned to India on March 1 but reported to the hospital on Monday after developing mild symptoms.
“Their samples were immediately sent for testing and both were positive for COVID-19,” said Dr Archana Patil of Directorate of Health Services (DHS), Maharashtra. “We are now in the process of tracing the contacts of both the patients,” said Dr Patil adding that they have been admitted to the isolation facility at Naidu Hospital and are being closely monitored.
As on Monday, nearly 5255 samples have been tested for the new virus from across the country. In Maharashtra, more than 16,500 travellers have been screened at the airports. A press statement issued by the State health department said that Pune’s divisional commissioner Dr Deepak Mhaisekar has advised people to avoid large gatherings and enjoy the Holi festivities with close family members at home.— Jyoti Shelar
Passengers from the U.S., France and Spain to be segregated at all airports
Passengers from 15 countries, including the US, France and Spain, will also be segregated from other passengers till the conveyer belt areas at airports, according to the AAI.
Passengers arriving from China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Hongkong, Vietnam, Nepal and Indonesia are already being segregated from other arriving passengers at the airports.
An Airports Authority of India (AAI) spokesperson said passengers from the US, France and Spain would also be segregated.
AAI Chairman Arvind Singh along with officials from the health ministry and aviation regulator DGCA, among others, reviewed arrangements made at all international airports to control the spread of coronavirus.
“Airports advised to include pax frm US, France and Spain to the list of nations (now 15) from where arriving pax needs segregatn as per @MoHFW_INDIA,” the AAI said in a tweet.
On Sunday, an official release said that in view of rising cases from France, the US, Spain, there would be dedicated aerobridges for passengers from these countries in addition to the 12 countries.
Screening of passengers coming from all parts of the world is being carried out at 30 airports.
Sri Lanka suspends Buddhist pilgrimage tours to India
Sri Lanka on Monday suspended Buddhist pilgrimage tours to India in view of the coronavirus outbreak, saying these trips are mostly undertaken by elderly people who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.
“A majority who go on these trips are elderly people who would be vulnerable to the threat from Coronavirus,” Dr. Anil Jasinghe, the Director General of Health Services said.
The religious tour, popularly known as ‘Dambadiva Vandana’, involves trips to Buddhist shrines in Bodhgaya, Varanasi and Sarnath in India and Lumbini in Nepal.
The Sri Lankan government’s move is part of a host of precautionary measures following the virus outbreak which include, the Sri Lankan Airlines suspending flights to China and Saudi Arabia indefinitely and all passengers coming from South Korea, Iran and Italy being sent to quarantine centres in the Eastern province.
While the virus has not claimed any life in Sri Lanka, it has warned against adverse affects on the tourism and export sectors.
There has only been one reported case of COVID-19 in the island nation. A female Chinese tourist was discharged from hospital late last month after she recovered from the infection.
First COVID-19 case in Karnataka, Punjab
Karnataka has reported its first COVID-19 case in Bengaluru. An IT professional who returned from US tests positive, says Minister K Sudhakar.
An official in Punjab said that "Man who returned from Italy confirmed positive for coronavirus in Punjab, first case in State."
Mizoram’s international borders to be sealed
Mizoram’s borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh will be sealed and the entry of foreigners banned to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the State, a top official said on Monday.
Mizoram shares a 510km border with Myanmar and a 318km border with Bangladesh.
State chief secretary Lalnunmawia Chuaungo said in a meeting convened by Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Monday, it was decided that the borders with the two countries will be sealed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
All who came in contact with infected people quarantined: Kejriwal
As the fourth case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday said the Centre and the Delhi government are working in close coordination to check the spread of the disease and all those who came in contact with the infected people have been quarantined.
After a review meeting with Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on the preparedness for COVID-19, the chief minister told reporters here that people arriving from foreign countries are being screened at airports.
A campaign will be run to make people aware about preventive measures to contain the spread of the disease, Kejriwal said.
The meeting was also attended by Lt Governor Anil Baijal, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, municipal mayors and officials of the Delhi government.
“We have successfully been able to contain the spread of COVID-19 because both the governments are working in a coordinated manner. People are also very alert and are cooperating with us to a large extent,” the chief minister said.
The number of COVID-19 cases in India rose to 43 on Monday with four people, one each from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kerala, testing positive, Health Ministry officials said on Monday
The Chief Minister said that most of the COVID-19 cases have so far been from those who have travelled back from other countries.
“All the people who came in contact with the infected people have been identified and quarantined, which has contained the outbreak of the virus,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
Airport authorities have been directed to conduct thermal screening of the passengers and those from Delhi are also being monitored consistently for 14 days for any symptoms, he also said.
All DTC, cluster buses and Delhi Metro trains to be disinfected daily
The Delhi government launched a drive to disinfect all DTC and cluster buses, and Metro trains on a regular basis in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the government, it has also started displaying the advisories in ISBTs, bus depots, Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses to inform the commuters about the symptoms, mode of transmission of COVID-19 and Do’s and Don’ts for the disease.
A 24x7 control room has also been set up at DGHS headquarters to deal with every query. Delhi has so far reported four cases of coronavirus.
“The government is taking precautionary measures at several levels, and especially in public transport system. To deal with this situation, all the buses and metros are being cleaned with disinfectants,” the government said in a statement.
Govt asks CAPFs to prepare over 5,400-bedded quarantine facilities pan-India
The government has directed the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) to prepare quarantine facilities with a bed capacity to admit over 5,400 people to deal with cases of coronavirus across the country, officials said on March 9.
These forces, comprising the Central Reserve Police Force, the Border Security Force, the Central Industrial Security Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, the Sashastra Seema Bal and the National Security Guard, have also been asked to create 75 isolation wards as part of preparations to combat possible large-scale outbreak of the virus.
Officials told PTI that the Union Home Ministry has asked these forces to create a total of 5,440-bed capacity at 37 locations in the country.
75 isolation wards are also to be created at these locations by these forces, they said.
“The aim is to build capacity. These forces have also been asked to earmark and depute their respective teams of doctors, paramedics and sanitation officials who will man these quarantine facilities,” a senior Home Ministry officer said.
Airport to scan passengers at domestic terminal too
In view of fresh cases of coronavirus in Kerala, the Cochin International Airport Limited on Monday decided to extend the screening of passengers from the international terminal to the domestic one as well.
The screening had started at the airport for international passengers on March 3.
“As new cases were emerging, CIAL decided to extend the universal screening to domestic passengers. New health counters were added to both international and domestic arrival areas,” a CIAL statement said.
“On an average, the airport handles arrival of 15,000 passengers every day,” it said.
Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases in Kerala has risen to six, with a three-year old child returning to the state from Italy and testing positive for the infection, officials said.
Foreign tourists entry to Lakshadweep stopped, says MP
As part of precautionary measures against the coronavirus in Lakshadweep, the administration has decided to stop entry of foreign tourists to the islands, Mohammed Faizal, MP, said on Monday.
He told PTI that no restrictions have been imposed on the entry of domestic tourists to the island.
However, entry would be allowed only after they are properly screened at passenger reporting centres at Kochi, Kozhikode and Agatti, he said.
India’s smallest Union Territory, Lakshadweep, is an archipelago consisting of 36 islands with an area of 32 sq km.
All islands are 220 to 440 km from the coastal city of Kochi in Kerala.
AI Express to offer free rescheduling of tickets
Air India Express on March 9 said passengers can reschedule their tickets free of cost for all bookings made between March 12-31, in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak .
“In view of the uncertain travel situation due to COVID-19, free date change will be permitted up to three days prior to the flight departure, for all new bookings effected between March 12, 2020 to March 31, 2020, for travel up to April 30, 2020,” the airline said in a statement.
Cancellations charge would be applicable.
Iran death toll rises to 237
Iran on March 9 reported 43 new deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall toll to 237 dead.
Confirmed cases in Germany top 1,000
The number of COVID-19 cases in Germany has passed 1,000, official data from the Robert Koch Institute disease control centre showed on March 9.
There are now a total of 1,112 confirmed cases in Europe's biggest economy, with the region of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) reporting 484 infections — the highest number among Germany's 16 states.
In a bid to slow contagion, Health Minister Jens Spahn has called for gatherings of more than 1,000 people to be scrapped across Germany, which could affect many events including Bundesliga football matches.
Govt prepared to deal with coronavirus, Health Ministry sending directives to states: Vardhan
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said the government is prepared to deal with novel coronavirus and his ministry is sending directives, including guidelines, to states in all the languages on ways to contain it.
“We are sending detailed guidelines to all states on ways to contain coronavirus. Have asked states to strengthen laboratories and manpower to effectively deal with coronavirus and form early rapid action teams,” Mr. Vardhan told reporters adding, that the government is prepared to deal with the infection.
The Health Minister chaired a review and coordination meeting with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, mayors of the Municipal Corporations of Delhi and senior officials of various departments.
“We can’t take it easy or be over confident. We have to be ready, monitor regularly and ensure robust contact tracing," Mr. Vardhan added. He urged people to avoid mass gatherings and explained: "Mask is not for all. Only those unwell need to use it."
Mr. Vardhan stressed on coordinated action between all concerned departments and agencies for activities such as contact tracing, community surveillance, hospital management, identification of isolation wards, ensuring adequate personal protection equipment and masks and risk communication for mass awareness.
Telcos using caller tune to spread awareness
The government has ordered all telecom firms to make a 30-second audio clip on coronavirus as a caller tune of mobile phone users to create awareness among masses — an order that state-owned BSNL and Reliance Jio have fully complied with while other telcos are yet to follow.
Top sources said on a request from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) ordered superseding of the phone ringing tone that one hears on dialling a number, with the 30-second information clip.
The only exception to not hearing the coronavirus message is when a user has subscribed to a particular tune, they said.
Govt. warns of action against those hiding travel history
The Health Department has warned that it will not hesitate to take legal action against persons who do not divulge their history of travel to or contact with nations from where COVID-19 has been reported and later turn out to have contracted the potentially lethal virus.
Health Minister K.K. Shylaja said the Health Department’s priority now was to provide the best of care to the COVID-19 patients. But those keeping their travel history a secret just to avoid personal inconvenience, were committing a crime to society and would definitely invite further action, she said. The family that returned from Italy had endangered the entire State by their irresponsible behaviour.
43 cases of COVID-19 in India, says Health Ministry
Four new cases of COVID-19 have tested positive in a India taking the total number of cases to 43 on Monday.
“Four new cases of COVID-19 have been reported since Sunday. One case each has been reported from Kerala, Delhi, UP and Jammu. 40 are active cases of COVID-19 in the country,” said an official release from the Union Health Ministry.
The Health Ministry has appealed to the people to kindly observe the Do’s and Don’ts, coughing etiquettes, hand-washing and avoid large gatherings.
Qatar bans entry of people from India
Qatar has temporarily banned entry of people coming from India and 13 other countries in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.
The temporary ban would also be applicable on people coming from Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Syria and Thailand.
“This decision comes as a preventive measure due to the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) worldwide,” Qatar government said in a statement dated March 8.
Flagship carrier Qatar Airways has also stopped flights from India, sources said.
Four new cases reported
Three new cases of coronavirus have been reported in the country, taking the number of cases to 42, Union Health Ministry officials said on Monday.
One new case each has been reported from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, the officials said, adding that no deaths have been reported yet.
Passenger leaves the hospital against medical advice
A patient who was brought to isolation ward of the Government Wenlock Hospital on Sunday night, reportedly left the hospital against medical advice on the early hours of Monday.
The person hailing from the city had arrived at the Mangaluru International Airport from Dubai on Sunday evening. He was found to be having a fever during the medical screening at the airport.
An ambulance was sent from the city to bring him to the isolation ward of the hospital for tests related to COVID-19 . Before the staff could come, the passenger reportedly left the hospital. More details are awaited.
Karnataka warns action against pharmacies selling drugs that claim to prevent COVID-19
As more people are getting increasingly anxious about COVID-19, many medical stores in the city are using this opportunity to sell medicines claiming they would help prevent getting infected.
When The Hindu visited some medical shops, the shopkeepers were selling these medicines claiming that they are ‘safe’ and will ‘ensure’ people do not get affected by COVID-19. One of the shops even had a separate rack labelled “Prevention of corona”.
While some of these medicines come in the form of pills that do not have labels, some stores are also selling ‘Arsenic Alb 30 P’ and made tall claims that it would ensure that people who consume it would be safe from the virus.
In breach of protocol, COVID-19 samples fetched from VIP’s home in Telangana
Amid intense efforts by Health officials to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the State, a hush-hush task was taken up last Wednesday. Samples from two young family members of a Telangana political leader were collected from their home, in what is a clear violation of protocol.
The duo in question had travelled to Dubai in February. Sources said at least three persons were sent in a vehicle on Wednesday to collect the sample from the suspected patients’ house on the city outskirts. Officials in the know heaved a sigh of relief when the samples collected from them tested negative the following day.
Another coronavirus patient identified in Pakistan; total cases rise to 7
A 50-year-old man has been tested positive for the deadly coronavirus in Pakistan, taking the total number of the COVID-19 infections in the country to seven.
The new case was found in Karachi on Sunday.
This is the seventh case in Pakistan though one has already recovered and discharged, while another one is ready to be discharged, Zafar Mirza, the special assistant to the prime minister on National Health Services, said on his official Twitter handle on Sunday.
Sensex nosedives over 1,500 points on global equity rout, sinking oil prices
Equity benchmark Sensex plummeted over 1,500 points in opening session on Monday led by deepening rout in global markets amid rapidly-spreading coronavirus and sinking crude prices .
Global oil benchmark Brent crude futures plunged nearly 30% to $32.11 per barrel after top exporter Saudi Arabia launched a price war in response to a failure by leading producers to strike a deal to support energy markets.
Continuing its downward spiral, the 30-share index was plunged 1515.01 points, or 4.03 %, to 36,061.61. The NSE Nifty too cracked 417.05 points, or 3.80%, to 10,572.40.
Police turn back foreign tourists from Attukal Pongala locality
In a bid to forestall further COVID-19 infections, the Kerala police on Monday turned back some foreign tourists from the Attukal Pongala festival area.
Thousands of women have assembled within a six-km square radius of the famed temple to participate in the festival. Many have been sleeping rough since Sunday to secure an open ground to offer the sacrament, a mix of rice and jaggery cooked on open hearths.
Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran told newspersons that the tourists were holidaying at Kovalam and the spectacle had attracted them. The government had instructed hoteliers to counsel foreigners against visiting congested places, given the global outbreak.
The government has sent back law enforcers, including women officers, who it had requisitioned from Pathanamthitta to help police the festival.
The virus had resurfaced in the district last week when a non-resident Keralite family arrived from Italy and established contact with their friends, neighbours and relatives.
Mr. Surendran said the government ran a certain amount of risk by allowing the festivities to go ahead. But, a decision to cancel the festival would have upended months of planning.
First confirmed coronavirus case in J-K
A 63-year-old woman tested positive for coronavirus in Jammu, making her the first confirmed case in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said on Monday.
The woman, who had a travel history to Iran, was among two patients who were declared “high viral load cases” by the administration on the weekend.
They are undergoing treatment at the isolation ward of the Government Medical College (GMC) hospital and are in a stable condition, the officials said.
“The test report of the woman patient is positive, while the report of the other patient is still awaited,” a Health Department official said.
Three-year-old tests positive in Kochi
A three-year-old child, who arrived at Kochi on March 7 from Italy via Dubai and was immediately taken to the isolation ward of Ernakulam Medical College, has tested positive for COVID-19.
Samples collected from the child’s parents have now been sent to NIV, Alappuzha, for testing.
The Cochin International Airport Ltd had introduced universal screening since March 3 and the child, with high fever, was taken straightway in a special ambulance of the health department to the isolation ward. The child's parents are also admitted there, said district administration officials.
TTD to get thermal guns for screening devotees
The widespread scare of COVID-19 seems to have no impact on the rush to Tirumala, the abode of Lord Sri Venkateswara. The average number of devotees remains at 75,000 per day touching close to 1 lakh during weekends.
The rush is expected to increase in the ensuing holidays. A majority of pilgrims visiting Tirumala belongs to Tamil Nadu. In view of COVID-19 threat , the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) has advised devotees against visiting the Venkateswara temple not to come for darsan if they have even slightest symptoms of cold, sore throat or fever.