COVID-19 updates | March 6, 2020

A man from Delhi with a travel history to Thailand and Malaysia has tested positive for COVID19, taking the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India to 31, health ministry officials said on Friday.

March 06, 2020 08:07 am | Updated 09:20 pm IST

Health workers disinfect a traditional shopping centre to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in northern Tehran, Iran, Friday, March, 6, 2020.

Health workers disinfect a traditional shopping centre to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in northern Tehran, Iran, Friday, March, 6, 2020.

The global march of the new virus triggered a vigorous appeal from the WHO for governments to pull out all the stops to slow the epidemic, as it drained colour from Holi festivities, closed Bethlehem’s Nativity Church and blocked Italians from visiting elderly relatives in nursing homes.

The U.N. health agency urged all countries to push this virus back, a call to action reinforced by figures showing about 17 times as many new infections outside China as in it. The virus has infected nearly 98,000 people and killed over 3,300.

In India, 31 positive cases have been reported from Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana. States such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh have also kept some people under quarantine.

Explained: When can people transmit the novel coronavirus? | Watch: COVID-19 — Dos and don'ts from the Health Ministry

Here are the updates:


Bhutan bars tourists after first coronavirus case

Bhutan said on Friday it would bar arriving tourists for two weeks after confirming its first case of the coronavirus , a tourist who spent several weeks in neighbouring India.

The tiny Himalayan kingdom, which is heavily reliant on high-end tourism for foreign exchange, said a 79-year-old American who entered by air from India on March 2 had tested positive for the virus.

“The government will impose two weeks' restriction on all incoming tourists with immediate effect,” Bhutan's Health Ministry said in a statement.

“This is to enable rigorous monitoring, source assessment of infection, and mitigate the situation.”

The government also announced the closure of several schools and the postponement of international conferences and seminars for two weeks.

The Ministry said the patient, who had entered India on Feb. 21, had been put in quarantine in hospital in the capital, Thimpu.

Lok Sabha

29,607 people under observation as on March 5: Harsh Vardhan

A total of 29,607 people are under observation of Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) network for novel coronavirus as on March 5 , Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan informed the Lok Sabha on Friday.

He also said 654 people were brought from Wuhan in China on February 1 and 2, and kept in quarantine at Army Camp in Haryana’s Manesar and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) Camp at Chhawla in Delhi for 14 days.

These evacuees were tested twice and reported negative for COVID-19 and were discharged on February 17 and 18, Vardhan told the House, responding to a query raised by Rahul Gandhi along with two other MPs.

On February 27, a total of 112 people, which included 76 Indians and 36 foreign nationals, were evacuated from Wuhan and kept in mandatory 14-day quarantine at the Army Camp in Manesar, the Union Health Minister said.

Besides, 124 people, which included 119 Indians and five foreign nationals, have been evacuated from Japan and kept in mandatory 14-day quarantine at the ITBP camp in Chhawla).

“All these 236 passengers have been tested and reported negative for COVID-19,” Mr. Vardhan said.


Retreat event at Attari-Wagah border to be conducted without spectator, says BSF

People will not be allowed to attend the popular daily retreat ceremony between India and Pakistan at the Attari-Wagah border in Punjab in view of coronavirus outbreak , the BSF said on Friday.

The precautionary measure will be effective from Saturday.

The Border Security Force (BSF) will continue performing the ceremonial duty of lowering the flag and other drills, a spokesperson of the border guarding force said.

“As per government guidelines, congregations are to be avoided. Hence visitors and spectators to the ceremony will not be entertained. The ceremony will be conducted without spectators,” he said.

New Delhi

Family members of man who tested positive for coronavirus home quarantined

Seven family members of a man who tested positive for coronavirus after his visit to Thailand have been quarantined at their residence in west Delhi, a health official said on Friday.

The 25-year-old man, who also travelled to Malaysia, has tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the national capital to three.

“The family of the patient comprising his wife, parents, brother, sister-in-law and their two kids has been home quarantined. Their samples have been taken for testing,” the Delhi government health official said.

The office of the patient, who has been shifted to the Safdarjung Hopsital for treatment, is in Gurgaon but he operated from his residence.

Explained: When can people transmit the novel coronavirus?  |  Watch: COVID-19 — Dos and don'ts from the Health Ministry


Govt exempts employees from marking biometric attendance

All central government employees were on Friday exempted from marking attendance through Aadhaar-based biometric system as a preventive measure to check the spread of the coronavirus , according to a Personnel Ministry order.

Instead, they will be marking their attendance manually in the attendance register.

“It is learnt that the most common method of transmission of the virus seems to be through infected surfaces. Therefore, it is desirable to avoid touching surfaces, which might be infected due to human touch,” the order said.

It said all the ministries have been asked to exempt their employees to mark attendance through the Aadhaar-based biometric attendance system till March 31.

“However, all employees are required to mark their attendance in the attendance register (as done prior to launch of the biometric system), during this period,” the order issued to all central government departments said.

Though only a small number of novel coronavirus cases have been reported in the country, it is a must to take all possible preventive measures to stop its spread, the personnel ministry said.

The total number of coronavirus cases in the country is 31, according to Health Ministry officials.



Tamil Nadu to establish quarantine facilities for persons suspected to have COVID-19

Tamil Nadu is planning to establish full-fledged quarantine facilities for persons suspected to have  coronavirus  disease (COVID-19) on the outskirts of Chennai and Madurai, Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar said.

“We presently have 300 beds in isolation wards across the State, and can increase these if needed. Now, the Chief Minister has allotted special funds to set up separate quarantine wards in the outer areas of Chennai and Madurai. These facilities are to quarantine persons whom we suspect to have coronavirus disease during screenings, on an emergency basis. We are working on establishing these facilities simultaneously,” he told reporters on Friday.


The Health and Family Welfare Department of Tamil Nadu government has set up a 24-hour control room to enable general public make coronavirus-related queries. People can contact the health helpline 104 and also the following numbers - 044-29510400, 29510500, 9444340496 and 8754448477.


Australia will spend one billion dollars to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced as the cases of the deadly infection in the country touched 61 on Friday.

Mr. Morrison said the federal government will go 50-50 with the states to meet the public health cost of the coronavirus treatment.

In an official statement on Friday, Mr. Morrison said 1 billion Australian dollars will be immediately available with more funds to be released from the Federal Government coffers as necessary.

Mr. Morrison said measures to respond to the outbreak would cost “at least” 1 billion Australian dollars and that it would be spread between federal, state and the territory governments. - PTI


13 Iranian tourists quarantined at Amritsar hotel

A 13-member group of tourists from Iran have been quarantined at a hotel in Amritsar and have been asked to not go out till their medical examination is completed, an official said. They reached Amritsar on Thursday night.

They have been quarantined at their hotel rooms, Amritsar Civil Surgeon Prabhdeep Kaur told PTI over phone.

We are conducting a proper medical examination, she said adding that they have been asked to not leave the hotel till their medical examination gets over as a precautionary measure..


Health ministry advises against mass gathering

The Health Ministry has on Friday advised that mass gathering should be avoided and postponed till the spread of  COVID-19 is contained. 

It added that to create awareness a day-long national level training on  C OVID-19 has been organized by Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and WHO. It is being attended by 280 health officials from all states, & hospitals of railways, defence, and paramilitary forces. It was also virtually attended by 1000 nodes across the country.


COVID-19 cases test negative

All five patients, who were kept at the Isolation Ward of Government Hospital for Chest and Communicable Diseases (GHCCD), in Visakhapatnam, have tested negative for COVID-19.

Similarly, the two cases from East Godavari district and one each from Vijayawada and Kakinada have reported negative, according to the State Nodal Officer for COVID-19, Dr. K. Rambabu, here on Friday.

The test reports of three suspected cases from Srikakulam district and one from Ongole are awaited, the release added.


No positive coronavirus cases in AP, says govt

No positive cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in Andhra Pradesh, the state Medical and Health Department said on Friday.

Of the 24 samples that were sent for examination, 20 tested negative while result of the remaining four was awaited, it said in a bulletin.

“We have strengthened the surveillance for containment, control and prevention of COVID-19. Till date 361 passengers from COVID19-affected countries have been identified and placed under surveillance,” Special Chief Secretary (Health) K S Jawahar Reddy said.

Of the 361, 130 people are under home isolation and 218 people completed the 28 days observation period.

Another 13 passengers are in hospital admission and are stable, according to the Special Chief Secretary.

The state government constituted as a nine-member high-level committee, headed by the Special Chief Secretary, to take decisions on procurement and logistic issues relating to containment and surveillance of COVID-19.

The government also notified the district Collectors as nodal officers for taking measures to contain the deadly virus outbreak in the respective districts. -- PTI



Puducherry issues advisory on COVID-19

The Puducherry Health Department on Friday issued an advisory on COVID-19 and urged the people to avoid venturing in large crowd like festivals or social events to avoid getting infected from the virus. In a press release, Dr. S. Mohankumar, Director (Health) said that some cases had been identified in India.

In its health advisory, the Department has asked people to exercise caution; like handwashing with soap; covering nose and mouth while coughing and sneezing using tissue or handkerchief. People who have travelled abroad and those who have come into contact with people suffering from COVID-19 should avoid public appearance and stay indoors under home quarantine for 14 days. People with cold or flu-like symptoms should avoid also public events.


One new case, total case rises to 31.

One more person from the national capital has tested positive for COVID-19, taking the total cases in the country to 31. The patient has recently travelled to Thailand and Malaysia.

The patient is stable and being monitored, a statement released by the Union Health Ministry said.


13 Iranian tourists quarantined at Amritsar hotel

A 13-member group of tourists from Iran have been quarantined at a hotel in Amritsar and have been asked to not go out till their medical examination is completed, an official said.

They reached Amritsar on Thursday night, the official added.

They have been quarantined at their hotel rooms, Amritsar Civil Surgeon Prabhdeep Kaur told PTI over phone.

We are conducting a proper medical examination, she said adding that they have been asked to not leave the hotel till their medical examination gets over as a precautionary measure.

If any of them are found symptomatic (for coronavirus), then samples will be taken, she pointed out.

CHENNAI, Tamil Nadu


All passengers arriving at Chennai airport screened

Passengers arrive at the Chennai international airport wear masks in the wake of coronavirus disease on March 6, 2020.

Passengers arrive at the Chennai international airport wear masks in the wake of coronavirus disease on March 6, 2020.


Since early Thursday, nearly 10,000-12,000 passengers from different destinations have been screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

According to officials of Airports Authority of India (AAI), they received directions to screen all passengers. “There are about 50 international movements on a daily basis. We have been screening all passengers in a systematic way,” an official said.

Officials said, the screening of passengers from the 12 countries including China, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Nepal and Indonesia and those arriving from other remaining countries are done separately in two different parts of the terminal. “The passengers from the 12 countries are checked as soon as they step out of the aircraft and reach the aero bridge. Whereas, those arriving from other countries are screened just before they reach the immigration area. All passengers have to fill up the self declaration form indicating if they have any illness,” another official said.

Sources said, owing to this, the amount of time passengers have to wait to clear immigration may take longer than usual. “We have been monitoring the situation everyday and we are trying to do everything possible to ensure the process gets done smoothly and is not very time consuming,” sources said.

They added that there is likely to be a dip in the number of people who have travelled from Chennai airport in the last two months and also in the number of aircraft movements as well. “We are estimating the numbers and should know the exact figure in the next few days,” he said.


China's Hubei, excluding Wuhan, reports no new cases

China's central province of Hubei, excluding the provincial capital Wuhan, reported zero new cases of coronavirus over 24 hours for the first time during the outbreak, as authorities continued to contain imported infections in other parts of the country.

Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic, reported 126 new confirmed cases on Thursday but there were no new infections in the province apart from those, the National Health Commission said on Friday.

Elsewhere in China, schools in provinces reporting no new cases for a number of days, started to set their opening dates in a sign of the country returning to normal.

Qinghai, a northwestern province in China that had reported no new infections for 29 days as of March 5, said it would stagger the start date of different school days from March 11 to March 20, according to a notice posted on an official website on Friday.

Separately, the southerwestern province of Guizhou, which reported no new infections for 18 days, had said at the end of February that schools would start from March 16.

Outside of Hubei, there were 17 new confirmed cases, bringing the total new infections in mainland China to 143 on Thursday, up from 139 cases a day earlier.

Of the 17 new cases, 16 were imported from outside of China — 11 in Gansu, four in Beijing and one in Shanghai.



Bhutan confirms first COVID-19 case

The isolated Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has reported its first case of the COVID-19 after a US tourist tested positive, the Prime Minister said on Friday.

The tiny, land-locked country, famous for measuring Gross National Happiness has emerged as a popular tourist destination in recent years.

But the government immediately shut borders to foreign visitors for two weeks in an effort to limit the impact of a disease that has wreaked havoc in more developed countries around the world.

The 76-year-old man arrived in Bhutan from India on March 2, and was admitted to hospital on March 5 with a fever, where he tested positive for COVID-19, the office of Prime Minister Lotay Tshering said in a Facebook post.

The post added that there would be “two weeks’ restriction on all incoming tourists with immediate effect”.


5 under hospital quarantine in TN

Three nasal and throat swabs, besides blood samples, which were sent for testing to the King Institute of Preventive Medicine, have returned negative for COVID-19.

The Health department has lifted samples from two more persons, officials said. With this, a total of 54 samples have returned negative for COVID-19.

According to the bulletin issued by the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine on Thursday, five persons are under hospital quarantine and 1,243 are under home quarantine.


YouTube on Covid-19

YouTube demonetising videos on coronavirus: Report

At a time when the world is reeling under the threat of coronavirus, Google-owned YouTube has reportedly started demonetising videos about the deadly virus and creators are not too happy about it.

“For today’s video, I won’t be directly commenting on the recent health-related news because A, I am not a health care professional, and B, I don’t need my video demonetised,” said Linus Sebastian, host of Linus Tech Tips, according to a report in The Verge on Wednesday.

The popular video-sharing platform has demonetised videos about sensitive subjects in the past as well.


UDUPI, Karnataka

75-year-old in hospital with COVID-19 symptoms

Sudheer Chandra Sooda, District Health and Family Welfare Officer, said on Thursday that a 75-year-old man from a village in Udupi district, who had shown symptoms of COVID-19, had been admitted to the District Government Hospital on Wednesday [March 4] night.

Addressing presspersons here, Mr. Sooda said that the man and his wife had gone on a 10-day visit to Israel and returned on March 3. The man suffered from cold and cough, and showed symptoms of COVID-19. Soon he was shifted from his house to the isolation ward at the District Government Hospital here. His throat swabs, taken on Thursday, had been sent to the lab in Bengaluru to check for COVID-19. The report is expected in a couple of days. If the person tested negative, he will be discharged and sent home. But if the person tested positive, then he will be given treatment at the hospital. After his admission at the District Government Hospital, the condition of the person was improving, he said.



COVID-19 panic subsided: Jayesh Ranjan

Telangana IT and Industries Secretary Jayesh Ranjan on Thursday evening said a sense of panic and fear that prevailed in Mindspace, an IT hub of Hyderabad, ever since Wednesday after a woman employee of one of the firms there was suspected to have COVID-19 (coronavirus), has subsided.

“Things are looking up… definitely under control,” the senior official said, adding he had a detailed meeting with representatives of over 100 IT companies in which it was decided not to slacken the effort towards ensuring that it is business as usual.




China’s coronavirus death toll touches 3,042; confirmed cases rise to 80,552

People walk through an 'EM Auto Sanitising Gate', amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, outside a shopping centre in Bangkok on March 6, 2020.

People walk through an 'EM Auto Sanitising Gate', amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, outside a shopping centre in Bangkok on March 6, 2020.


The death toll in China’s novel coronavirus outbreak has touched 3,042 with 30 new fatalities while the confirmed cases have risen to 80,552 amid signs that the dreaded COVID-19 was stabilising, including in the epicentre Hubei province.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said that it received reports of 143 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection and 30 deaths on Thursday on the Chinese mainland.

Among the deaths, 29 were in Hubei Province and one in Hainan Province, NHC said in its daily update of the COVID-19 on Friday.

Meanwhile, 102 new suspected cases were reported taking the 482, it said.

The overall confirmed cases on the mainland so far totalled to 80,552 by the end of Thursday. This included 3,042 people who had died of the disease 23,784 patients still being treated and 53,726 patients discharged after recovery, the NHC said.

Also on Thursday, 16 imported cases (those coming from abroad) of novel coronavirus infection were reported on the mainland, including 11 in Gansu Province, four in Beijing and one in Shanghai.

By the end of Thursday, 36 imported cases had been reported, said the commission.



Virus forces Japan to cancel ceremony to mark tsunami

Japan is cancelling an annual ceremony marking the anniversary of a deadly tsunami and nuclear disaster as the country steps up efforts to curb the new coronavirus, officials said on Friday.

For the past eight years, the prime minister, lawmakers, and family members who lost loved ones in the disaster have attended the nationally televised ceremony.

The move comes a day after Tokyo and Beijing confirmed a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping has been postponed, and Tokyo said the country will quarantine people coming from China and South Korea for two weeks on arrival.

"We had been exploring ways to hold the commemoration ceremony up to the last minute, for example by downsizing the event," top government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Friday.

"However, given the current situation, now is the time that we should do everything we can to prevent the spread of the infection, and we genuinely regret to report that today's cabinet meeting decided to give up on holding the commemoration ceremony."

More than 18,500 people were killed or left missing after the massive tsunami triggered by a 9.0-magnitude underwater quake on March 11, 2011. -- AFP

ADB on Global economy

Coronavirus could cut global growth by 0.1% to 0.4%, ADB says

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Friday the coronavirus outbreak is set to trim economic growth in developing Asia and around the world this year.

More than 3,200 people worldwide have died from the respiratory illness that can lead to pneumonia, hurting financial markets and damaging economies.

The outbreak could slash global gross domestic product by 0.1 to 0.4%, with financial losses forecast to reach between $77 billion and $347 billion, the Manila-based lender said.

Economic growth in China and developing Asia, excluding China, could be trimmed by 0.3 to 1.7% and 0.2 to 0.5%, respectively, the ADB said in an analysis that outlined best- and worst-case scenarios.



Bethlehem's storied Nativity Church closes amid virus fears

Palestinian officials on Thursday closed the storied Church of the Nativity in the biblical city of Bethlehem indefinitely over fears of the new coronavirus, weeks ahead of the busy Easter holiday season.

The announcement by the Palestinian tourism ministry threatened to devastate the vital tourism industry in the town where Jesus is believed to have been born. The spread of the virus across the Middle East has already disrupted worship at other major holy sites.

Iran, the epicenter of the virus in the region, announced that it would set up checkpoints to limit travel between major cities and urged citizens to reduce their use of paper money to help slow the outbreak, which has killed at least 107 people in the country.

- AP


Twitter broadens ban on ‘dehumanising’ comments

As coronavirus fears continued to mount, Twitter expanded its ban on “dehumanising language” to include disease.

A rule barring such hate speech targeting religious groups now applies to “language that dehumanises on the basis of age, disability, or disease,” the Twitter safety team said in an online post.

“Our primary focus is on addressing the risks of offline harm, and research shows that dehumanising language increases that risk,” it said.

Twitter will delete tweets already posted that break the rules, relying on users to report offending comments.



Australia closes first school after pupil contracts COVID-19

Australia ordered its first school closure on Friday after a 16-year-old pupil tested positive for the COVID-19, as the country's Prime Minister warned the public bill for treating infected patients could top A$1 billion ($661 million).

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he has written to Australia's state governments to create a A$1 billion fund to treat COVID-19 patients, though he cautioned more money may be needed.


Pregnant women scared to give birth in virus-hit China

Scared of the deadly new coronavirus that has swept China, pregnant women and new mothers are giving birth alone, keeping their newborns inside and switching to pricier private hospitals to avoid the risk of infection.

One new mother, surnamed Xie, told AFP she gave birth to her baby girl in Wuhan earlier this month alone, because nobody from her family was allowed to come with her to the hospital in the quarantined city where the outbreak emerged in December.

With roads blocked, she had been unable to attend pre-natal checks and was afraid to go to hospitals for fear of cross-infection.




US announces $8bn COVID-19 funding, testing underway on cruise ship

US lawmakers passed an emergency $8.3 billion spending bill to combat the COVID-19 on Thursday as health workers boarded a cruise ship held off the coast of San Francisco to test sick passengers and crew.

The Senate gave sweeping bipartisan support to the funding a day after the House passed the bill, so that it could be quickly sent to the White House for President Donald Trump's signature.

“The American people are looking for leadership, they want assurance their government is up to the task of protecting the health and safety,” said Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy.


COVID-19 | First death in Britain confirmed

Britain is moving into the second of four phases in its plan to tackle the spread of  coronavirus,  England's Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said on Thursday, as the UK recorded its first death of a patient and confirmed cases rose .

Britain has so far registered 115 cases of the coronavirus known as COVID-19, which started in China, but has held off from introducing measures to restrict movement or cancel large gatherings for fear of hurting the economy.

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