NATIONAL

COVID-19 is now a pandemic, says WHO

Kerala has till now reported 17 cases, including the three patients who were discharged last month following recovery.

Pune authorities said three more persons, who were part of a 40-member tour group that recently travelled to Dubai, have tested positive. In a late night development, a Nagpur-based man tested positive for coronavirus. This takes the tally of positive cases in Pune district to eight and that in Maharashtra to 11.

2 IT employees affected

Two employees working with IT companies Dell and Mindtree have tested positive, according to company statements. However, their locations were not disclosed.

Army sources said on Wednesday that 83 individuals who arrived from Italy on AI flight AI138 on March 11 have been quarantined at Manesar. “The evacuees will be monitored for two weeks by doctors. If any individual is suspected to be infected, he/she will be shifted to an isolation facility,” they said.

“About 119 people who were on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship off the Japan coast and brought back in a special flight from Japan and currently at Manesar will complete their two weeks of quarantine on Wednesday. Once the final test results are out, which are expected by Thursday, they will be allowed to go home with their detailed documentation sent to the District/ State surveillance units for further surveillance,” a source noted.

948 evacuated

India has so far evacuated 948 passengers from coronavirus-affected countries. Of these, 900 are Indian citizens and 48 belong to other nationalities.

A 76-year-old man suspected to be infected has died in Karnataka’s Kalaburagi, the District Health and Family Welfare department said on Wednesday. “Mohammed Hussain Siddiqui’s swab samples have been sent to a lab in Bengaluru. The report is awaited,” officials said. Mr. Siddiqui had recently returned from Saudi Arabia.

The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has issued an advisory to reduce the spread of the virus by taking steps to ensure sanitation of seats, handles and bars in public transport. “The hygiene and sanitation may be stepped up at all the bus terminals and the display of public health massages may be ensured on public transport vehicles,”it said.

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar in his statement in the Rajya Sabha noted that India would send a team of doctors to Italy by Thursday for testing its nationals and clearing them to be brought back, while samples of 529 more people have been brought from Iran.

Iran, Italy in focus

He said the Indian government was working with the Iranian authorities to operate some limited commercial flights for facilitating early return of the remaining Indians after testing them. He added that Iran and Italy were two “focal points” for the government as any “worldwide activity” would only add to the panic. “There are over 6,000 Indians in various provinces of Iran, which include 1,100 pilgrims, nearly 300 students and about 1,000 fishermen. The others are on a longer term stay for earning a livelihood and education,” he added.

Transfer of power

An 85-year-old man, who returned from Dubai to Jaipur on February 28, was sent to the isolation ward in Sawai Man Singh Government Hospital on Wednesday after he tested positive for COVID-19. His confirmatory test with fresh samples was carried out after his initial test turned out to be positive on Tuesday.

The Home Ministry, in an order on Wednesday, transferred some of its power to the Health Ministry for tackling the situation, if the outbreak became a disaster of national proportions. This would allow the Health Ministry to act as a coordinating and monitoring body for disaster management, to prepare a national plan to deal with the emergency and to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the plan.

(With PTI inputs)

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