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Tue, 24 March 2020
Bengaluru airport shut till March 31

Timeline  Refresh

23:40   Bengaluru airport shut till March 31
In support of the government's measures to control spread of coronavirus, the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru will remain closed to passengers from 2359 hours on March 24 until 2359 hours IST on March 31.

'However, as per government order, the airport will continue to facilitate the transport of essential commodities through its cargo operations,' Bangaluru International Airport Limited MD and CEO, Hari Marar said.

BIAL has taken every preventive measure to contain the spread of virus, including regular screening of all staff-both before and after shifts, the provision of safety equipment like facemasks, gloves and access to hand sanitiser, he said.

"We are working closely with the State Health Department and Airport Health Organisation to control the virus and have done everything in our capacity to safeguard our surroundings," Marar said in a statement.  -- PTI
22:33   Suspension of Railway extended till April 14
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announcement of a 21-day lockdown across the country, the Indian Railways on Wednesday announced that its suspension of all passenger services will continue till April 14 in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.

However, freight movement will continue to carry essential commodities across the country, officials said.  -- PTI
22:17   Will ensure smooth supplies in Maharashtra despite lockdown: Bhujbal
"Let me assure the people of Maharashtra that even though the nation will be in a 21-day lockdown, there will be smooth and adequate supply of food and civil supplies.

"Even the prime minister in his address to the nation said that the supply of essential goods and services will continue," Chhagan Bhujbal, Maharashtra food, civil supplies and consumer protection minister in the state told Rediff.com over the phone.

Bhujbal has categorically assured the people of the state that there will be continuous supply of foodgrains, vegetables, milk and all other essential commodities and people should not throng these shops and vendors in panic.

"While Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not elaborate upon this a lot of people have started panicking and rushing to buy their daily needs and stocking up on supplies. Let there be no panic," he said.

"I am categorically assuring the people of Maharashtra that under any circumstances in this 21-day lockdown ration shops will continue to function normally, you will get your milk supply, we are also working towards smooth supply of vegetables.

"The machinery that takes care of supply of these essential commodities has been exempted from the purview of this lockdown. We have adequate stock of foodgrains and other commodities.

"There is no scope for any misunderstanding and fear-mongering. Shops selling these vegetables, milk, and food will remain open and they will continue to do their normal business."

"My humble request to the people of Maharashtra is not to gather in large numbers at these outlets. Let only one member from one household go out to buy essential household items needed by your family without stocking up on items more than required."

"As the minister responsible for food and civil supplies, I would like to urge the people of Maharashtra, through Rediff.com, to not give into panic and rest assured that they will get all their supplies of daily needs in an organised manner," he said.

"The state government and local law and order machinery will allow one member per family to go out and buy whatever is needed. The state government will make all the efforts to spread this message across Maharashtra and will continue talking to the media to disseminate our message and resolve."

-- Prasanna D Zore/Rediff.com

IMAGE: People lined-up outside a super market in Mumbai to buy essentials after PM Modi's announcement of a nationwide lockdown on Tuesday. Photograph: Ashaish Narsale/Rediff.com
21:45   Nothing changes for Maharashtra: Aditya Thackeray
Maharashtra minister Aditya Thackeray on nationwide 21-day lockdown:

'I appeal to all the people, not to panic! For our state, nothing changes.

'CM Uddhav Thackeray ji locked down Maharashtra step-wise over the last two weeks, complete lock down since yest CM also spoke to PM right now, essential services will be on as they have been since yesterday.'

IMAGE: People queue-up outside a grocery store at Lokhandwala Complex in Andheri, Mumbai after PM Narendra Modi announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com
21:34   21-day lockdown: Here are MHA guidelines
Soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address announcing a 21-day nationwide lockdown, people across the country rushed to grocery stores and super markets to buy essentials.

To allay the apprehensions, the prime minister tweeted the following:

'My fellow citizens,

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO NEED TO PANIC.

Essential commodities, medicines etc. would be available. Centre and various state governments will work in close coordination to ensure this.

Together, we will fight COVID-19 and create a healthier India. Jai Hind!'

Following are the ministry of home affairs guidelines on the services that will be exempted from the lockdown. It also contains list of actions that will be taken against people violating the lockdown:


IMAGE: People queue-up outside a grocery store in Mumbai to buy essentials in view of the nationwide lockdown from midnight: Photograph: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com
20:32   Stay at home, come what may: PM to nation
PM Modi's address to the nation continues:

- If we are not able to manage the upcoming 21 days (of nationwide complete lockdown), we will be pushed back 21 years.

- Social distancing is the only option to stay safe and to stop Coronavirus. Stay at a distance from each other and stay inside your houses.

- Forget what it is like to venture out of home. A Lakshman Rekha is being drawn at your doorstep today. Do not cross that.

- You must stay at home, come what may. 
20:12   Nationwide lockdown for 21 days: PM Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation on vital aspects relating to the menace of coronavirus;

- Total lockdown in the entire country for 21 days from midnight.

- This will be stronger than Janta Curfew. We are left with no choice.

- We have to pay the economic cost to save each and every life.

- My prayer to you with folded hands, wherever you are, stay there.

- The lockdown is for 3 weeks, PM Narendra Modi says in a nationally televised address.
20:05   Kerala reports 14 new cases, state count 105
Kerala reported 14 fresh cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, taking the total number of positive cases in the state to 105.

A health worker is among those affected, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told reporters after a Covid19 review meeting this evening.

While six cases were reported from Kasaragod, two new positive patients were detected from Kozhikode, he said.

Over 72,460 people are under observation, with 467 in isolation wards of various hospitals. Four persons had been treated and discharged earlier-- three from Wuhan and one from Kannur.  -- PTI
19:19   LS Speaker to give one month's salary to PM's relief fund for coronavirus
Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Tuesday said he will contribute his one month's salary to the Prime Minister Relief Fund, setup to contain COVID-19, which has infected over 500 people in the country and killed 10.

Announcing his decision in a tweet, Birla said, "We're together in this tough time."

'I will give my one month's salary to PM's relief fund as my contribution in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in India,' the speaker tweeted in Hindi.

Meanwhile, in a special gesture, Lok Sabha members on Monday gave a standing ovation in the House to express their gratitude to all those working to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, including medical professionals.

All members, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, clapped in the House along with the Speaker. Generally, members thump their desks in appreciation.  -- PTI
18:48   IRCTC to automatically refund all tickets
The Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has asked people not to cancel the tickets they have booked online for those trains that have been cancelled and assured them that they will get full refund automatically.

Earlier, the railways had extended to three months the time to cancel counter tickets till June 21.

The railway subsidiary, IRCTC, said in a statement that doubts have been raised regarding cancellation of e-tickets subsequent to the halting of railway passenger trains.

'No cancellation required on the part of user. If user cancels his ticket, there are chances he may get less refund. Hence, passengers are advised not to cancel e- tickets on their own for those trains which have been cancelled by railways,' it said.

'Refund amount will be credited to the user account used for booking of e-tickets automatically. No charges are deducted by the railways in case of train cancellation,' the statement added.

The railways has cancelled all trains till March 31 in view of coronavirus outbreak.  --  PTI
18:46   Delhi govt to give Rs 5,000 to construction workers
The Delhi government will give Rs 5,000 to construction workers as their livelihood has been affected due to coronavirus outbreak, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Tuesday.

Addressing a press conference in the evening, he said no new case of coronavirus has been reported in Delhi in the past 40 hours, and the earlier number of virus-infected patients has also gone down from 30 to 23.

He said that he has constituted a five-member doctors' panel to suggest a plan to deal with the situation if Delhi enters stage 3 of the coronavirus pandemic.

The panel has been asked to submit its report within 24 hours, he said.

Kejriwal said it was good that some patients have recovered but cautioned about a long battle ahead against the deadly virus.

He appealed to the people to help each other in these difficult times.

He said people should not discriminate against and harass those professionals such as doctors, nurses, pilots and air hostesses who are extending help in this fight against the virus.  -- PTI
18:17   Covid: IOC, Japan PM agree to defer Olympics
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Tuesday he and the head of the International Olympic Committee agreed on the idea of delaying the Tokyo Olympics by about one year.

Abe was speaking to reporters after a phone call with IOC President Thomas Bach on postponing the Games amid growing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

"We asked President Bach to consider postponement of about one year to make it possible for athletes to play in the best condition, and to make the event a safe and secure one for spectators," Abe said.

President Bach said he is in agreement 100 per cent.
A passenger being screened on alighting from a plane
18:17   Govt bans export of ventilators, sanitisers
The government on Tuesday banned export of all sanitisers and ventilators with immediate effect in wake of the coronavirus outbreak. 

"Export of all sanitisers...is prohibited, with immediate effect," the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said in a notification. 

It also banned exports of all types of ventilators, including any artificial respiratory apparatus or oxygen therapy apparatus or any other breathing appliance or device. 

 Last week, it had banned the export of certain ventilators, surgical and disposable masks and textile raw material used for making masks. 

There is a shortage of hand sanitisers and face masks in the market amid the coronavirus outbreak as people resorted to panic buying.
17:24   China to lift lockdown on Hubei province, Wuhan
China today decided to lift the three-month lockdown on more than 56 million people in the central Hubei province, the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, on Wednesday amid warnings by experts of a looming second wave of the COVID-19 infections in the country due to the steady rise in "imported cases".

The prolonged lockdown of Hubei's capital Wuhan will end on April 8, lifting the mass quarantine over the city with a population of over 11 million.

China on Tuesday reopened a section of its iconic Great Wall to visitors, as the country limped back to normalcy after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The Badaling section of the Great Wall will be open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. The daily number of visitors will be capped at 19,500. Around 60 kilometers from Beijing, it's the most popular section of the wall for tourists. As of 2 pm on Tuesday, a total of 892 tickets had been reserved by visitors to visit the area, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. 


Image: Workers in protective suits take part in the disinfection of Hunan seafood market earlier this month, where the novel coronavirus is believed to have first surfaced, in Wuhan. Photograph: Reuters
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadealla
17:17   Satya Nadella's wife donates Rs 2 crore to Telangana
Anupama Venugopal Nadella, wife of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, has donated Rs 2 crore to the Chief Minister Welfare Fund to be used to help the poor during the lockdown period. Telangana is currently under lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.
New York is the epicentre of the virus in the US
17:12   New York gets 400 ventilators
New York on Tuesday received 400 ventilators for its hospitals as the people affected by the coronavirus seek medical assistance. The United States has been facing an acute shortage of lifesaving ventilators used in the treatment of the deadly disease.


President Donald Trump tweeted about New York receiving the ventilators for its hospitals and said,"The World Market for face masks and ventilators is Crazy. We are helping the states to get equipment, but it is not easy. Just got 400 Ventilators for @NYCMayor Bill de Blasio. Work beginning in 4 hospitals in New York! Millions of different type items coming!"


Desperate hospitals in the United States say they can't find anywhere to buy the medical devices, which help patients breathe and can be the difference between life and death for those facing the direst respiratory effects of the coronavirus, the New York Times reported.


American and European manufacturers say they can't speed up production enough to meet soaring demand, at least not anytime soon.


And while the acute shortages are global, not just in the United States, some European governments are deploying wartime-mobilization tactics to get factories churning out more ventilators -- and to stop domestic companies from exporting them.


As many as 46,400 people in the United States have been affected by the infection out of which at least 590 people have died as per the data presented by Johns Hopkins University. -- ANI
17:02   Allow 25-35 % IT staff to work from campuses: Mohandas Pai to Govt
The government must allow 25-35 per cent of total staff of information technology companies to work from their campuses because they maintain systems of their clients worldwide and industry in this country, IT sector veteran T V Mohandas Pai said on Tuesday in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

"IT companies have a business continuity plan as it is; it is for any catastrophe. They are doing it," the former Chief Financial Officer of the IT major Infosys Ltd told PTI. His only request is government must allow critical staff -- 25-35 per cent people of the total workforce -- to work by remaining in their campuses because they have to maintain the systems of the clients world-wide, he said. "Everybody cannot work from home.

"And they have to work from there (campuses) to maintain the IT systems of Indian industry. That's very important. So, it's very, very vital that they (IT companies) are given some flexibility because we must make sure that this does not result in people losing jobs after they come back (when the situation returns to normal)," Pai said. -- PTI
Reliance set up India's 1st dedicated Covid-19 hospital in Mumbai
16:45   Centre asks states to fund isolation wards
As coronavirus cases surge, the Centre on Tuesday asked all state governments to release funds for setting up of additional medical facilities like hospitals, clinical laboratories and isolation wards to combat the pandemic. The move came as the number of coronavirus cases in the country crossed 500. 


"The central government has asked all the state governments to deploy fiscal resources for establishing additional medical facilities such as hospitals, clinical labs, isolation wards, expanding and upgrading existing facilities to combat the challenge posed by COVID-19," an official statement said. 

These facilities need to be well equipped with ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPEs), masks and drugs to treat the patients, it said. -- PTI

Image: Reliance set up India's 1st dedicated Covid-19 hospital in Mumbai.It has also announced that it will pay contract workers wages. 
16:28   Spain virus death toll 2,696
Spain virus death toll rises by 514 to 2,696: Govt. 

In India, the Sensex bounced back to close 693 points higher on Tuesday as investors noted governments across the world taking prompt economic measures to offset the financial damage from the Covid-19 pandemic. Sensex settles at 26,674.

Image: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez speaks on the coronavirus disease in an almost empty chamber at the parliament in Madrid on Wednesday. Pic: Reuters.
16:24   The speech Modi should deliver tonight
My fellow Indians.
It is 8 pm.
I know the sight of me at 8 pm strikes fear in your hearts but do not be afraid, my dear countrymen.
I have come here today not to scare you, but to make you feel comfortable.

Krishna Prasad rewrites what the PM's speech should really say. Read it here
A rail employee looks the door of a Mumbai local train
16:00   5 new COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra today
Coronavirus cases rise to 106 in Maharashtra; three deaths reported in the state so far, announces State Health Minister Rajesh Tope. There were 101 cases just this morning. 

Coronavirus cases crossed 500 taking the death toll to 10, even as the Centre on Tuesday asked the states and union territories to clamp curfew wherever necessary in the wake of people defying lockdown orders in several parts of the country. As 32 states and union territories announced complete lockdown till March 31 to deal with the pandemic, authorities are taking a serious view of people continuing to venture out despite the lockdown considering that the coming days and weeks are going to be extremely crucial to contain the spread of the viral infection. 


With the coronavirus lockdown hitting the Indian industry hard and causing job losses, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said an economic package to help tide over the crisis will be announced very soon.

Image: A railway employee locks the door of a train at Andheri in suburban Mumbai on Monday. All local trains have suspended services creating immense hardships for hospital staff. Pic: ANI
15:40   90% of S'pore's imported cases in recent days did not show symptoms at checkpoints
Nine in 10 imported Covid-19 cases in Singapore between Wednesday (March 18) and Friday last week did not show symptoms, like fever, when they had passed through the border checkpoints.As a result, the cases were detected only later on, the Health Ministry said on Monday (March 23) in response to queries.It explained that about 90 per cent of the imported cases reported in Singapore during the three-day period saw a doctor at a hospital or general practitioner's clinic after they returned home. Read the report here


Image: Commuters take the Woodlands Causeway to Singapore from Johor a day before Malaysia imposes a lockdown on travel last week. Pic: Reuters
A deserted road in Chennai on Sunday.
15:29   Extra salary for docs, support staff, says TN CM
In the wake of surging cases of COVID-19 in the country, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami on Tuesday announced a month's extra salary for Health Department employees, including doctors and support staff.


"Health Department workers like doctors, nurses and all those who attend to coronavirus patients will be given one month's extra salary," said Palaniswami in the State Assembly.


Palaniswami had also announced that Rs 1000 will be given to all ration card holders, free rice, sugar, and other essential commodities.

"To avoid long queues, commodities will be issued on a token basis," he added.

According to the Health Ministry, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu is 12. Palaniswami on Monday said that restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC will be imposed in the state till March 31 in the wake of surging cases of COVID-19 in the country. 
15:23   Railways to release full salary to lakhs of contractual workers
In a huge relief to lakhs of contractual employees, the railways has decided to release their full salaries even as it suspended all its passenger services till March 31. 

In an order issued on Tuesday, the railways has said that due to prevailing coronavirus situation in India and the stoppage of trains, several contractual staff engaged in on-board housekeeping service, sanitation, pantry car and commercial activities have been stranded and have to compulsorily stay at other places, while others have to be in readiness to attend the duties at a short notice. "Maximum payment which may be made shall be limited to 70 per cent of the contract value for contracts awarded on lump sum basis," the order stated. 

An official clarified that in any contract, the major component is labour. "Hence, to pay labour 100 per cent salaries, it has been kept at 70 per cent of total contract value. It is clarified, in this time no material is being consumed as trains are not functioning," the official said. 

The Railway Board has also advised zones to ensure that these employees are not retrenched due to this suspension of services /lockdown and are paid in the manner prescribed. PTI 

Image: Trains at the at the Agra Cantt railway station amid the lockdown. Passenger train services across the country are suspended. Pic: ANI
MoS Finance Anurag Thakur
15:17   Complete waiver on minimum balance: FM
Other measures announced by FM Nirmala Sitharam in the wake of the coronavirus clampdown. 
-- Insolvency & Bankruptcy Code default limit has been increased from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1 crore, MoS Finance Anurag Thakur, said.

-- Debit card holders who withdraw cash from any bank's ATM can do it free of charge for the next 3 months

-- Complete waiver of minimum balance requirement balance in savings bank accounts.

-- For newly incorporated companies there is a requirement to file declaration for the commencement of business within 6 months of incorporation. Now we are giving them an additional time of 6 more months. the FM said. 
FM Nirmala Sitharaman is yet to announce a COVID-19 economic package
15:07   Govt extends tax deadlines, no COVID-19 package
Giving relief to citizens unable to meet deadlines due to coronavirus outbreak, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the last date for filing of income tax return for FY2018-19 has been extended to June 30. Also, interest rate on delayed payment has been cut to 9 per cent from 12 per cent, she said.

The government has also extended the last date for linking PAN with unique biometric ID Aadhaar to June 30 from March 31. Giving details of the extension of dates to help citizen cope with the lockdown, she said the Vivad se Vishwas tax dispute resolution scheme has been extended by three months to June 30. Those availing the scheme by the extended deadline will not have to pay 10 per cent interest on the principal amount. Also, due dates for issuing various notices under the Income Tax Act have also been extended.

She also said customs clearance is now an essential service, till June 30th, 2020 it will be working 24/7. The mandatory requirement of holding board meetings is being relaxed by a period of 60 days, this relaxation is for the next two quarters.
14:56   RS, LS secretariats closed in view of coronavirus outbreak
The Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha secretariats have been shut completely in view of the coronavirus outbreak and no one will be allowed to attend office. While the Rajya Sabha Secretariat has been shut till Friday, the Lok Sabha Secretariat will be closed till March 31. 


"The Rajya Sabha Secretariat has been shutdown till Friday and no one shall be allowed to attend office in view of the coronavirus threat," a source said. There are over 1,400 officers and staff working in the Rajya Sabha. 


Meanwhile, a Lok Sabha communication said the office would remain closed till March 31 but officers could direct staff in case of exigencies of work.  -- PTI
Farooq Abdullah flanked by his wife, Molly and son, Omar
14:51   Omar lunches with parents
Omar Abdullah shares this picture with his parents shortly after being released from detention today. @OmarAbdullah tweeted: "Had lunch with my mum & dad for the first time in almost 8 months. I cant remember a better meal even though Ive been in a bit of a daze & dont remember what I ate. (Smiley emoji).

The National Conference leader, who turned 50 on March 10, has been under detention since August 5, when the Centre announced the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 and its bifurcation into the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The order revoking the PSA against him was issued by Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra. Abdullah was booked under the stringent act on February 5, hours before his six-month custody under preventive detention was to end. The government has revoked his detention with immediate effect, the order stated.

Image: Farooq Abdullah flanked by his wife, Molly and son, Omar this afternoon. The picture was tweeted by @OmarAbdullah 
14:29   Coronavirus: Sonia urges PM, Cong CMs to take measures for wage support to construction workers
Expressing concern over the plight of construction workers after the country-wide lockdown over coronavirus, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce emergency measures, including wage support to those in distress.

In a letter to the prime minister, Gandhi said over 44 million construction workers are now faced with a "precarious" future as many of them are stranded in cities and are deprived of livelihood due to the lockdown.

In a separate letter to the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states, the Congress chief urged them to ensure urgent wage support to construction workers who are now deprived of work due to the restrictions.

She said the country is in the midst of the worst global pandemic and this has necessitated stringent measures for containment and management of the COVID-19 transmission.

"These measures have led to widespread economic disruptions that had a debilitating impact on the informal sector," she said in her letter to Modi.

Nearly 500 coronavirus cases have been reported in India so far, according to Health Ministry data on Tuesday.

As cases of the viral infection surged, authorities have put almost the entire country under lockdown, banning gathering of people and suspending road, rail and air traffic till March 31, to check the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The Congress president said that over the last year, lakhs of migrant workers in major cities across India have left for their home towns and villages fearing a prolonged economic downturn.

"As the second largest employer in India, over 44 million construction workers are now faced with a precarious future. Many are stranded in cities and are deprived of their livelihoods due to the stringent lock down measures," Gandhi told the PM.

The Congress chief said several countries around the world, most notably Canada, have announced wage subsidy measures as part of COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.
"Considering the extraordinary circumstance, I request you to consider advising the State Building and other Construction Worker's Welfare Boards to roll out emergency measures, particularly wage support to the construction workers who are in distress," Gandhi urged the prime minister.

She said the Building and other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 provides for various welfare measures for workers.
-- PTI
14:06   Will increase supply of protective gear: Govt
The Central government on Tuesday said that the export ban on body coveralls and N-95 Masks has been in force since 31st January and that it is continuously working with stakeholders to streamline the supply chain of protective gears required by healthcare professionals to fight the coronavirus spread.

"It is unfortunate that certain sections of the media are spreading misinformation on the efforts of the government in augmenting the supplies of body coveralls, N-95 Masks, and 2-ply/3-ply surgical masks required for healthcare professionals dealing COVID-19 cases," an official statement by the Ministry of Textile read.

The ministry in its statement elaborated on the steps that have been taken so far and said, "For the last 45 days, Textile Ministry along with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, is attempting to locate an adequate number of sources who can produce and supply the requirement of ''Body Coveralls'' for the government."

Image: A medic stamping home quarantine on a passenger amid coronavirus outbreak, in Guwahati on Monday. Pic: ANI
13:58   Which states are in lockdown?
The states and UTs which have imposed lockdown in all districts include Chandigarh, Delhi, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland. The others include Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Ladakh, Tripura, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Bihar, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Haryana, Daman Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Karnataka and Assam.

Image: A deserted view of Choti Chopad during the Janta Curfew in Jaipur on Sunday. Pic: ANI
13:44   Gold more liquid, no credit risk amid pandemic: WGC
At a time when investors are spooked by the spread of Covid-19 and the markets remain volatile, the World Gold Council said gold can provide liquidity with no credit risk and improve overall portfolio performance. Gold is a clear complement to stocks, bonds and broad-based portfolios, as it is a hedge against systemic risk, currency depreciation and inflation, WGC said in a report, 'The relevance of gold as a strategic asset: Indian edition'. It has historically improved portfolios' risk-adjusted returns, delivered positive returns and provided liquidity to meet liabilities in times of market stress, it noted. -- PTI
13:42   After his BJP entry, forgery case against Scindia closed
In other news: The Madhya Pradesh Economic Offences Wing has closed a case against former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia and his family members, where they were accused of falsifying a property document while selling land, an official said on Tuesday. 


Scindia quit the Congress on March 10 and later joined the BJP. His resignation from the Congress triggered a revolt in the Madhya Pradesh party unit, with 22 MLAs who belong to his camp also tendering their resignations. 


This led to a collapse of the Kamal Nath-led state government last week. On March 12, when the Congress was in power in the state, the Economic Offences Wing decided to verify facts afresh into the complaint against Scindia and his family of allegedly indulging in wrongdoing while selling a land in Gwalior in 2009. -- PTI
13:37   UP govt issues orders to allow vehicles carrying essential commodities
In a bid to prevent shortage of essential commodities in the locked down districts of the state, the Uttar Pradesh government has issued directives on not stopping the vehicles carrying these items.


"Some restrictions have been imposed because of the lockdown in some districts on movement of vehicles and trucks carrying goods have been stopped. This could lead to shortage of essential commodities," the directives issued by Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi said. 


In a letter sent to all divisional commissioners, police commissioners of Lucknow and Gautam Budh Nagar, district magistrates, senior superintendents of police and superintendents of police, the official said trucks carrying essential commodities should not be stopped on the national highways and expressways, and it should be ensured that they do not face any problems because of the lockdown. Vehicles supplying water, material used for making hand sanitizers, medicines among others should not be stopped, he said. 

Awasthi also directed the officials concerned to issue passes to the employees of Railways, Posts and Telegraph departments among others, as per the guidelines issued by the Government of India, to reach their places of work. The directives come amidst complaints and fears that local shopkeepers could face shortage of commodities. 

There were also reports that vehicles carrying goods were being stopped from entering the locked down districts because of which the distributers were not able to supply them to shopkeepers. -- PTI
People queue up to get their vehicles tanked up
13:32   Centre to states: Impose curfew
As people continue to venture out despite lockdown, the Centre has advised state governments and union territory administrations to impose curfew wherever necessary in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, officials said on Tuesday. A top functionary of the central government has called up some of the chief ministers and apprised them of the necessity of imposing the curfew if people continue to venture out of their homes. 


The state governments and the union territory administrations have been advised to impose curfew wherever necessary as many people continue to go out of their homes despite the lockdown ordered to check the spread of the virus, a government official told PTI. 


The state governments have been conveyed that public gatherings could lead to escalation of the prevailing situation as so far nearly 500 positive cases have been reported from different parts of the country. "Now, it is up to the state governments to take action as per the local situation and give necessary instructions to the district magistrates who have the powers to impose curfew," the official said. 


Image: People queue up to get their vehicles tanked up during the lockdown in Mumbai on Monday. Pic: ANI
Few vehicles on the roads in Bandra, in Mumbai on Monday. Pic: ANI
13:16   65-yr-old COVID-19 patient dies in Mumbai
A 65-year-old coronavirus patient has died in Mumbai, taking the death toll due to COVID-19 to three in the metropolis, the city civic body said on Tuesday. The man recently returned from the United Arab Emirates to Ahmedabad. He later complained of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing, the BMC said in a statement. He also had pre-existing ailments, including high blood pressure and severe diabetes, it said. 

He was brought to the Kasturba Hospital in Mumbai on March 20 for treatment, but his health condition deteriorated further. The man died late Monday evening, the BMC said. -- PTI


Image: Few vehicles on the roads in Bandra, in Mumbai on Monday, amid the continued lockdown. Pic: ANI
12:50   12 COVID-19 patients cured in Maharashtra
The good news amid the apocalyptic news from around the world is this that as many as 12 COVID-19 patients in Mumbai have been cured of the deadly viral infection, a senior civic official said on Tuesday. "Twelve coronavirus patients have now tested negative for the infection. They were being treated at various civic- run hospitals here for last some days," said Daksha Shah, deputy director of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's health department. 


"In the last couple of days, we noticed these 12 patients getting better. Their fresh swab samples were sent for tests and the results came out negative," another BMC official said. 


Hence, the authorities have decided to discharge them soon, the official added. So far, 101 coronavirus cases have been reported from Maharashtra. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced a curfew in the entire state on Monday in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic. -- PTI 


Image: A policeman requests a person not to travel during the lockdown in the wake of coronavirus outbreak at Borivali, in Mumbai on Monday. Pic: ANI
12:40   Flowers greet cop who cleared Shaheen Bagh protest site
Locals gave flowers to DCP South RP Meena and other police personnel following the clearance of the Shaheen Bagh protest site today. Delhi Police cleared the protest site, amid complete lockdown in the national capital, in wake of the coronavirus. 

"People at the protest site in Shaheen Bagh were requested today to clear the site as lockdown has been imposed. But after they refused, the action was taken against violators as the assembly was unlawful. Protest site has been cleared. Some protestors have been detained," RP Meena, DCP South-East district.

On Monday, the number of protestors who have been on a sit-in protest against the CAA was reduced significantly.

12:36   Moody's warns of global economic tsunami
COVID-19 has created a worldwide economic tsunami and the global economy is engulfed in a serious downturn, according to Moody's Analytics.
The virus has caused significant parts of the Asian and now European and US economies to all but shut down.


"More financial pain is quickly coming as layoffs mount, businesses curtail investment and retirement nest eggs evaporate," said Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody's Analytics.


"Millions of job losses are likely in coming weeks, particularly for households that live paycheck to paycheck," he wrote in an analysis.


In January, prior to the virus, Moody's expected global real GDP growth of 2.6 per cent in 2020. With the virus now shutting down travel, trade and many businesses, the global economy is expected to suffer from real GDP falling by 0.4 per cent.


Zandi said the Chinese GDP is on track to decline by 27 per cent at an annualised rate in the first quarter.


US businesses have immediately laid-off workers. Initial claims for unemployment insurance spiked last week (the week of March 8) to over 280,000 from about 210,000 the week before. US claims of over 240,000 per week are consistent with no job growth.


A survey conducted by the Federal Reserve last year found that almost half of Americans effectively live paycheck to paycheck.


"A massive and mounting monetary and fiscal policy response will limit the economic damage in the United States compared with much of the rest of the world, we expect lawmakers to ultimately provide 1.65 trillion dollars in discretionary fiscal stimulus," Zandi added.


Zandi said COVID-19 is an unprecedented global pandemic and economic shock. Economies around the globe are shutting down, and the sudden halt to business is resulting in serious economic and financial damage.


It is not difficult to construct very dark scenarios -- each darker than the last. The recession that now engulfs the world ultimately should not be as severe as the financial crisis nor, certainly, as terrible as the 1930s' Great Depression. 

Image: Medical officers check devices at an emergency hospital, handling coronavirus disease at Kemayoran Athletes Village, in Jakarta, Indonesia on Monday. Pic: ANI
12:05   COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra rise to 101
The tally of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra reached 101 on Tuesday with three new cases in Pune and one in Satara, the state's health department said.The Maharashtra government has announced a curfew in the state in the backdrop of coronavirus pandemic.


On Monday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that all district borders, along with the state borders, will also be sealed to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the districts which are not affected by itHowever, essential goods will remain available to the public amid such times of a health crisis.The total number of active COVID-19 cases reported so far in the country stands at 446 while the number of people who have been cured or discharged stands at 36, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.  --ANI

Image: People carry essential commodities on a bike during the lockdown amid the rising cases of COVID-19 in Patna on Monday. Home deliveries in most cities under lockdown are not being allowed. Pic: ANI
11:37  
Four more COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra; total reaches 101: Health official.
11:36   Shivraj wins trust vote
BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan wins confidence motion unanimously in Madhya Pradesh assembly for his fourth term as Chief Minister. Not a single Congress MLA was present in the assembly at the time of voting. SP, BSP & independent MLAs voted in favour of the motion.
11:35   446 active COVID-19 cases in country: Health Ministry
The total number of active COVID-19 cases reported so far in the country stands at 446 while the number of people who have been cured or discharged stands at 36, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Nine people have died from the disease while one case has migrated, the Ministry further informed.


The Central government has taken several steps to contain the rapid spread of the virus, including stoppage of all incoming passenger traffic on 107 immigration check posts at all airports, seaports, land ports, rail ports, and river ports.


There is a complete lockdown in as many as 548 districts of the country affecting several hundred million people.The Indian Railways has also cancelled all passenger train operations till March 31. -- ANI
11:33   EC defers Rajya Sabha polls scheduled for March 26
The Election Commission has deferred the Rajya Sabha polls scheduled for March 26 in view of the coronavirus outbreak, official sources said on Tuesday. Election to fill up 55 seats in the Upper House of Parliament was to be held on March 26, but 37 candidates have already been elected without a contest. 


The decision on holding the election for the remaining 18 seats will be taken based on the prevailing situation, the sources said. Nearly 500 coronavirus cases have been reported in India so far, according to Health Ministry data on Tuesday. 


As cases of the viral infection surged, authorities have put almost the entire country under lockdown, banning gathering of people and suspending road, rail and air traffic till March 31. -- PTI
11:25   PM to address nation at 8 pm on COVID-19 scourge
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation at pm on Tuesday on the coronavirus outbreak.
 
"Will address the nation at 8 pm today, 24th March 2020, on vital aspects relating to the menace of COVID-19," Modi tweeted.
He had addressed the nation on efforts to combat the virus on March 19. 
Nearly 500 coronavirus cases have been reported in India so far, according to Health Ministry data on Tuesday.
As cases of the viral infection surged, authorities have put almost the entire country under lockdown, banning gathering of people and suspending road, rail and air traffic till March 31. 

-- PTI
11:19   Student from Navi Mumbai booked for violating home quarantine
A 24-year-old student who returned from the UK and went to meet his friend in Maharashtra's Thane district has been booked for violating the mandatory home quarantine advisory in view of the coronavirus crisis, a police official said on Tuesday. 


The police took action against the student after civic authorities did not find him at his residence at NRI Complex in Seawoods area of Navi Mumbai on Monday, an official said. The student came back from the UK some days back. Despite being advised by the civic authorities to remain in home quarantine, he went to meet his friend at Dombivali in neighbouring Thane, he said. 


As there could be a possibility of spread of the viral infection, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation's (NMMC) health centre lodged a complaint at the NRI Police Station, he said. The police subsequently registered an offence against the student under IPC Sections 269(negligent act likely to spread infectious diseases dangerous to life), 270 (malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant, he said. 


The NMMC officials have also informed of the incident to the Thane Police and Kalyan-Dombivali civic authorities, he said. The student has now been kept at a quarantine facility in Thane, he added. PTI
11:11   Omar Abdullah released after 8 months in detention
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah was released on Tuesday after nearly eight months of detention. His release order was issued after charges under the Public Safety Act (PSA), slapped on him in February, were revoked. Abdullah, who turned 50 on March 10, had spent 232 days in custody since the government announced abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state on August 5 last year. The National Conference leader was initially detained under preventive custody and later slapped with the PSA on February 5. PTI
10:45   Manipur has 1st coronavirus case in northeast
Two important updates: The total number of positive Coronavirus cases in Maharashtra rises to 101 including 3 new cases in Pune and 1 in Satara, the Health Department, Maharashtra, said.

--  23-year-old woman, who returned to Manipur from UK, tests positive for coronavirus in first instance of infection in Northeast.

According to the data updated Tuesday morning, the total number of COVID-19 cases rose to 492, including 446 active cases. The figure includes 41 foreign nationals and the nine deaths reported so far, the Health Ministry said. 

Image: A woman looks at a notice at a medical store in Kolkata. PTI Photo.
10:38   COVID-19: IIT-KGP researchers develop hand sanitisers
Researchers from IIT Kharagpur have developed two different alcohol-based hand sanitisers based on WHO guidelines amid the coronavirus outbreak, the institute said in a statement. 


A team from the School of Medical Science and Technology of the institute manufactured a hand sanitiser containing isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, glycerol and water, it said. 


The team comprises research scholars Atul Kumar Ojha, Ayan Gope, Anurup Mukhopadhyay, Lopamudra Das, Akashlina Basu, a few of whom have studied pharmaceutical technology, the statement said. 


Another team led by Prof Mihir Sarangi of the Department of Mechanical Engineering has developed a hand sanitiser based on 70 per cent ethanol and 30 per cent aloe vera gel, it said. Both the teams have made the hand sanitisers available to employees of the institute who are providing essential services to students and staff on the campus. 


"The hand sanitisers have been made only for non- commercial purposes," researcher Atul Kumar Ojha said. PTI

Image:A man distributes unsealed face masks to auto-rickshaw drivers during the lockdown in Ahmedabad on Monday. Pic: ANI
10:19   Protests end in Delhi
The protest site in Hauz Rani, Delhi, has been cleared by police, amid complete lockdown in the national capital. Prohibitory order under Section 144 Cr PC is in place in Delhi, in the light of COVID-19.
10:16   113 Indians from Malaysia return
Out of the 113 passengers who were brought back from Malaysia on board Air Asia flight to Chennai last night, nine symptomatic passengers were referred to a hospital, while the remaining 104 were taken to the Air Force quarantine facility in Tambaram yesterday. 
10:09   Sensex starts 1400 higher on Fed relief measures
Equity benchmark Sensex recovered over 1,400 points in opening session on Tuesday tracking gains in Asian peers after US Federal Reserve announced limitless bond-buying programme to support the US economy. 


Investor sentiment in Asia improved in anticipation of a revival in demand from the economic giant, traders said. After rallying 1,481.63 points, the BSE barometer gave up some gains to trade 443.27 points or 1.71 per cent higher at 26,424.51. 


Similarly, the NSE Nifty was trading 165.55 points, or 2.18 per cent, up at 7,775.80. Top losers in the Sensex pack included IndusInd Bank, Titan, L&T, Tata Steel, Asian Paint and ICICI Bank, while HCL Tech, HUL, Infosys and Tech Mahindra were the gainers. 


In the previous session, the BSE benchmark plummeted 3,935 points or 13. 15 per cent to close at 25,981.24, while the NSE barometer Nifty cracked 1,135.20 points or 12.98 per cent to settle at 7,610.25. 


According to V K Vijayakumar, Chief Investment Strategist at Geojit Financial Services, the US Fed is now leading from the front with its historic package which includes open-ended purchase of securities, direct loans to companies, purchase of corporate bonds, lending against student loans and credit card loans. 


The Federal Reserve announced it will buy unlimited amounts of US Treasury debt -- essentially printing money for the economy -- as well as new steps to lend directly to small- and medium-sized companies that have been among the hardest-hit as economic activity dries up. 


"This comprehensive package for the wall street and the main street is unprecedented and gives the message that the world's largest central bank will "do whatever it takes' to mitigate the economic crisis. 


"Other central banks can be expected to follow suit with bold measures to ease the severely strained credit and financial markets,' he said. 


A major package from the government of India and the Reserve Bank can be expected shortly, he stated, adding that the market is likely to remain hugely volatile with rising possibility of V shaped recovery occasionally. 


"However, the calamity facing humanity is enormous," he said. As per traders, extreme lockdown measures taken by the government of India and authorities across the world has put immense pressure in investor sentiment.
10:01   FAKE! No such instructions for Mumbai
If for those in Mumbai, who have got this on WhatsApp, this is fake news. The city like the rest of Maharashtra, is under curfew till March 31. 

The Mumbai Police @MumbaiPolice tweeted to say, "Rumours are no less infectious than #coronavirus! This looks like a meticulous list, but a fake one too! Please note that no such directions have been given by @CPMumbaiPolice . In case of any doubt, please #Dial100 or tweet to us! #TakingOnCorona "
09:54   16 Corona suspects from Ladakh tested negative
Ladakh BJP MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal arrived at the Parliament wearing a mask in the wake of Coronavirus, in New Delhi, last week. Sixteen fresh samples of suspected cases have tested negative, a senior government official said on Monday. Among the 16 samples, 12 were from Kargil while the other four were from Leh, said Rigzin Samphel, Commissioner Secretary, Ladakh.

Three people were tested positive for coronavirus in the Union Territory on Saturday (March 21).While two of those were in Leh, one person was tested positive in Kargil, taking the total number of cases to 13 in the Union Territory, the administration said. The condition of all the infected people is stable.

Meanwhile, several precautionary steps have been taken for preventing the transmission of COVID-19 in Ladakh. The administration's orders have immediate effect and will remain enforced till April 15, 2020.

Image: Ladakh BJP MP Jamyang Tsering Namgyal arrived at the Parliament wearing a mask in the wake of Coronavirus, in New Delhi, last week. Pic: ANI
09:39   492 COVID-19 cases in India, 9 deaths
Coronavirus cases rise to 492 in India; number of active cases 446: Health Ministry data. Yesterday, the number of cases were 415, up 77 today. The figure includes at least 41 foreign nationals and the nine deaths reported so far, the Health Ministry said. The total number of active COVID-19 cases across the country now stands at 446, after over 22 fresh cases were reported.  Thirty-six people have been cured/discharged/migrated, it added.


Yesterday, the Centre warning of legal action against those violating the restrictions enforced to curtail the pandemic, which has claimed more than 14,500 lives globally. 

Punjab on Monday became the first in the country to impose curfew in the entire state with no relaxations and only exempted essential services to prevent the infection, which has killed seven people in the country so far. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also asked state governments to ensure that rules and regulations of the coronavirus lockdown are enforced as he noted that many people are not taking the measure seriously. 

Modi also asked state governments to ensure that rules and regulations of the coronavirus lockdown are enforced as he noted that many people are not taking the measure seriously. 

"Many people are still not taking the lockdown seriously. Please save yourself, save your family, follow the instructions seriously. I request state governments to ensure rules and laws are followed," he said in a tweet in Hindi. 

Faced with unprecedented situation arising out of the coronavirus breakout, the Centre and state governments have decided to take extraordinary measures and impose restrictions. 

Delhi, Jharkhand, and Nagaland declared a statewide lockdown while similar curbs were announced in a number of districts in Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Several states, including Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, had earlier imposed a partial or complete lockdown. Maharashtra is under curfew from today. 


Image: People rush to get medicines during the lockdown in Kolkata on Monday. Pic: ANI
09:18   China reports 1st COVID-19 case in 6 days
For the first time in six days, China has reported a new case of coronavirus in Hubei province, according to the country's National Health Commission.

The new case was among 78 reported across the country on Monday, of which 74 were imported from overseas.

That brings mainland China's total to 81,171 confirmed cases. Of this total, 73,159 patients have recovered and been discharged from the hospital, according to the NHC.

China also reported seven new deaths, bringing the national death toll to 3,277. Hubei -- ground zero for the pandemic -- has been hit the hardest, with 3,160 deaths.

In recent weeks, the number of locally-transmitted cases has fallen in China as the number of imported cases has risen. Mainland China's total number of imported cases is now 427.
09:08   COVID-19: Heavy security in Delhi amid lockdown
Heavy security has been deployed in several areas of the national capital, including Jafrabad and Shaheen Bagh, amid complete lockdown in a bid to tackle COVID-19 outbreak.

Delhi Police had earlier cleared the protest site in Shaheen Bagh area where people had been staging a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act since December last year. 

On Sunday, Kejriwal had announced a complete lockdown in Delhi from March 23 till March 31 for the prevention and containment of COVID-19.

The government said that all shops, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, offices, godowns, weekly markets shall stop their operations and only essential services and establishments have been exempted from the lockdown.

There is a complete lockdown in as many as 548 districts of the country affecting several hundred million people.

The total number of coronavirus positive cases have risen to 471 in India including nine deaths, the ICMR said.

-- ANI
08:51   Rijiju calls for action against racial abuse
Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday condemned the alleged racial discrimination being faced by the people of north-east in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.

The minister also said that strict action must be taken by all the state governments in this regard. "I'm sad to see such racial discrimination in many parts of India. Anyone whoever discriminates people of other community, region, religion or race are the real enemy virus. All state govts must take strict action as per the direction of the Govt of India," Rijiju tweeted.

Earlier on Monday, the ministry of home affairs wrote to all states and Union Territories, asking them to take appropriate action against those who are harassing people from the North-East by linking them with COVID-19.

Recently in North-West Delhi, a case was reported where a man harassed a female belonging to a North-Eastern state by linking her with coronavirus. After her complaint, a case was registered against the person and the matter is under investigation. 

-- ANI
08:23   US First Lady Melania Trump tests negative for coronavirus
US First Lady Melania Trump tested negative for coronavirus, said White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. 

"Mrs. Trump got tested the same night as the President was tested, out of an abundance of caution. The test was negative," Grisham said.

US President Donald Trump first announced that the first lady had received a test during his remarks at a Monday evening White House coronavirus task force briefing with reporters. 

Asked by a reporter whether his wife had been tested, Trump said, "Yes," and added that the first lady was "fine." The President and first lady were tested at the White House on March 13, more than one week ago.

US Vice President Mike Pence -- who has been the Trump administration's point person on coordinating the government's response to the pandemic -- and second lady Karen Pence were tested Saturday for the virus after it was revealed a member of the vice president's staff had tested positive for Covid-19. The Pences each tested negative.
08:00   Shaheen Bagh protesters removed amid lockdown
Amid sharp rise in cases of novel coronavirus across India, Delhi's Shaheen Bagh -- heart of protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Act -- has been cleared this morning after 101 days.

Several people, including women, were detained overnight, said police. "They were not clearing the protest site despite repeated persuasion," said an official, adding that large gatherings have been banned over COVID-19.

This comes nearly a week after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, while announcing restrictions in the national capital to curb spread of highly contagious coronavirus, said: "No religious, social, cultural and political gatherings comprising more than 50 people will be allowed in Delhi till March 31. The restriction is applicable to protests too."
02:32   Covid: Tihar Jail to release 3,000 prisoners
The Tihar Prison authorities on Monday said they are planning to release around 3,000 prisoners to ease congestion in jails over the coronavirus threat.

"We will try to release around 1,500 convicts on parole or furlough, and around the same number (1,500) of undertrial prisoners (on interim-bail) in the coming three to four days to ease congestion in jails in the wake of coronavirus threat," Sandeep Goel, DG (Prisons), said.

However, it will not include hardened or dangerous criminals, he said.

According to the order, prisoners convicted or charged with offenses having jail term of up to seven years can be given parole.  -- PTI

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