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Thu, 26 March 2020
Yes Bank's Rana Kapoor fears he may get Covid

Timeline  Refresh

23:27   Corona-positive man escapes from quarantine, tracked to home
A 21-year-old coronavirus positive patient triggered a scare after he escaped from a quarantine facility in Jhunjhunu district only to be brought back by authorities after he was found at his home.

Health department officials have taken the samples of 10 other family members of Tayub (21) and kept all of them in an isolation ward in the facility, Jhunjhunu Chief Medical and Health Officer Chhote Lal said on Thursday.

Tayub had returned from Saudia Arabia's capital Riyadh on February 29 and was sent to the quarantine facility on March 23 (Monday) based on the symptoms, Lal said.

Soon after getting admitted to the hospital, the suspect dodged the officials at the facility and escaped, the CMHO added.

Police said that based on the information he had provided at the time of admission, he was traced to his residence in Mohalla Batwalan in the district.

He was then taken back to the quarantine facility and his swab samples were sent to Jaipur for testing.

"His report came out positive on Wednesday. He had landed at Jaipur airport and come to Jhunjhunu," Lal said.

The CMHO said another man identified as Imtiyaz having travelled to Riyadh was found coronavirus positive on Thursday.

He had returned on March 21 from Delhi airport.

Imtiyaz has been isolated as well and the persons he had come in contact with are being traced, he added.

The entire state is under lockdown from March 22 and massive survey and screening is underway to trace out the contagion.

A total of 40 COVID-19 positive patients have been found in the state so far. One patient in Bhilwara district found to be coronavirus positive died due to co-morbid condition.  -- PTI
23:25   Yes Bank's Rana Kapoor fears he may get Covid
Yes Bank founder Rana Kapoor, currently in judicial custody after arrest on money laundering charges, moved a bail application on Thursday claiming his prevailing medical condition puts him at the risk of contracting coronavirus in jail.

In the plea filed through his lawyer Subash Jadhav, Kapoor claimed he was sufferinga chronic immunodeficiency syndrome, which causes recurrent lung, sinus and skin infections.

The 62-year-old banker also claimed to be suffering from severe hypertension, anxiety and depression for the last 18 months, which is in large part being treated in his presence of his family.

This, combined with bronchial asthma since childhood, which still requires inhalers, puts him at high risk of a severe lung infection which can lead to death, the bail plea said.

The plea further stated that the present situation of coronavirus can lead to severe lung infection and even death of the applicant as the disease is more like to infect persons above 60 years ofage, with low immunity and long-standing respiratory problem.

"It is submitted that the aforesaid disease requires the applicant to consume carefully monitored and home cooked food in order to combat and control the said disease. The applicant is also required to stay at home," the plea said.

The PMLA court, before which the plea was filed, posted the matter for hearing on Monday and directed the officials of Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai, where Kapoor is lodged, to submit his medical records.

Kapoor was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) earlier this month.

According to the ED, loans of Rs 30,000 crore were given by Yes Bank when Kapoor was at its helm, and of these, advances of Rs 20,000 crore became bad loans.

The ED has accused that Kapoor, his family members and others got benefits worth Rs 4,300 crore through companies controlled by his family as kickbacks for sanctioning huge loans.

He is also accused of receiving bribes for going easy on loans given to a few big corporate groups that had turned into non-performing assets (NPAs).  -- PTI
Image used for representational purpose
23:11   IMD issues thunderstorm warning for Maharashtra
K S Hosalikar, deputy director general of meteorology, India Met Department, in Mumbai, has issued a thunderstorm warning for Maharashtra.   

He has tweeted: 'Next five days thunderstorm warnings in Maharashtra. The next five days, the weather likely to be active in state with TSRA, Lightning. D4 & D5 : 29, 30 March to be watched for severe weather please. Pl Watch for updates & daily nowcast for likely severe weather warnings.'
22:31   CRPF contributes Rs 33.81 cr fund from jawans' one-day salary
The Central Reserve Police Force has contributed a Rs 33.81 crore fund, drawn from one-day salary of its troops, to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

A spokesperson for the 3.25 lakh personnel strong paramilitary force said the act was a unanimous decision and the CRPF was 'dutifully committed to stand firmly with our nation in this challenging time of COVID-19 spread'.

"It is submitted that CRPF personnel have decided to make a humble contribution of one day salary to Prime Minister's National Relief Fund. The effort was to make the immediate contribution with the noble intent to keep it unrevealed."

"The CRPF remains steadfast towards its motto of service and loyalty," the spokesperson said.

The CRPF is the country's primary combat armed unit under the Union home ministry for internal security and anti-Naxal operations.  -- PTI
22:01   Coronavirus toll 16, number of cases 694: Govt
The death toll due to COVID-19 in India rose to 16 on Thursday and the number of positive cases increased by nearly 90 to 694, according to the health ministry.

In its updated figures at 8 pm, the ministry stated that 16 COVID-19 deaths were reported so far in the country.

According to the data, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country stood at 633, while 44 people were either cured or discharged and one had migrated.

The total of cases reported till Wednesday was 606.  -- PTI
21:54   Centre to states: Give food, shelter to migrants
The Centre on Thursday asked state governments to arrange food and shelter for migrant workers who are facing difficulties due to the 21-day lockdown announced to check the spread of coronavirus.

Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Punya Salila Srivastava said students, who are in hostels, should continue to stay there for their own safety.

"We have asked the state governments to arrange food and shelter for the migrant workers.

"We are sensitising everyone that wherever they are, they should remain there.

"Students should continue to remain in hostels," she said at a press conference in New Delhi.

There have been reports of a large number of migrant workers leaving their work place in different parts of the country and walking down to their native places, hundreds of kilometres away, facing hardships on the way.

The migrant workers reportedly started their journey on foot as there was no transport available after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the 21-day lockdown on Tuesday.

Srivastava said the central government is regularly monitoring the situation so that there is no crisis of essential commodities.

"A control room has been set up by the Union Home ministry to monitor the situation 24x7. With constant monitoring, we hope that there will be no crisis of essential commodities during the lockdown period," she said.

Srivastava said there were some problems in inter-state cargo movement but they have now been cleared up.

"For transport of medicine to some remote areas like in the Northeast, the Ministry of Civil Aviation is making arrangements for chartered aircraft," she said. -- PTI
21:34   Xi calls for all-out global war against coronavirus
Battling the coronavirus at home, Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday called for an all-out global war against the pandemic which has created an unprecedented health crisis.

Speaking at the emergency G20 Summit on COVID-19 via video link, Xi said the world needs to be resolute in fighting an all-out global war against the pandemic.

"This is a virus that respects no borders. The outbreak we are battling is our common enemy. All must work together to build a strongest global network of control and treatment that the world has ever seen," Xi said. -- PTI
21:30   Package will go a long way in helping poor: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the financial package announced by his government to deal with the impact of the coronavirus lockdown will go a long way in ensuring food and livelihood security of the poor.

'It is our firm resolve that the poor and vulnerable get all possible help to cope with the testing times,' Modi tweeted.

He said the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package will go a long way in ensuring their food and livelihood security.

The government on Thursday announced the Rs 1.7-lakh crore stimulus that included free foodgrain and cooking gas to the poor for three months, and cash doles to women and senior citizens as it looked to ease the economic impact of the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

The lockdown imposed to check the spread of coronavirus came into force on Wednesday.

As part of the package, an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh per health worker fighting COVID-19 will be provided.

80 crore poor people will get 5 kg wheat or rice and 1 kg of preferred pulses for free every month for the next three months.

20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders will get Rs 500 per month for next three months.  -- PTI
20:43   Shops selling essentials to remain open 24x7
Shops selling essential  commodities will be allowed to stay open 24 hours of the day in Maharashtra and Delhi.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced on Thursday that shops selling essential items such as groceries and vegetables will be allowed to operate round the clock to ease rush.

The decision was taken to prevent crowding at shopsand marketplaces amid the lockdown to contain the coronaviruspandemic, a statement from Thackeray's office said.

Thackeray held discussions with senior officials who are in charge of special control room for coronavirus set up at the Mantralaya (state secretariat) about how to ensure smooth supply of essential goods earlier in the day, it added.

However, shop-keepers must ensure that social distancing is maintained and rules about hygiene and sanitising are followed, the CMO statement said.

Meanwhile, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal said that the government will allow shops selling essential items to operate round the clock.

In a joint digital press conference with Baijal at 12 noon, Kejriwal said that one case of coronavirus was reported in Delhi in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of such cases to 36.

He said that among the 36 cases, 26 people were those who returned from abroad recently.

E-commerce companies in the national capital can carry out home delivery of essential commodities as their employees' identity cards will be considered valid during the lockdown, the chief minister said.

Subdivisional magistrates and assistant commissioners of police have been directed to ensure shops selling groceries, vegetables and milk remain open and essential items are adequately stocked in their respective areas, the lieutenant governor said.

Baijal said that as a special measure, grocery and essential supplies stores will be allowed to operate round the clock.

This will help in staggering customer visits and maintaining social distancing norms, he added.   -- PTI
19:57   Times Group sends legal notice for Covid-19 transmission via paper unlikely report
The Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd., (Times Group) has served a legal notice on ThePrint for a report that claimed transmission of Covid-19 through newspapers and currency notes was theoretically possible, although it was most unlikely.

The report, titled Transmission of coronavirus through newspapers, currency possible but unlikely: Experts, was published on 23 March. It quoted experts who said there was a possibility of the virus reaching homes through paper products, including newspapers and currency notes. However, these experts also said among all the scenarios through which the virus can spread, transmission through newspapers is the least probable.

Echoing the report, the International News Media Association has also acknowledged research that says it may be possible for a person to get Covid-19 by touching surfaces with the virus on it. But it assures there has been no such reported incident and that such surfaces do carry lowest potency for the shortest period of time.

The Times Groups legal notice, however, demands that the report be pulled down from ThePrint website as well as social media platforms, claiming it disparages newspapers and their operations with malicious intention.

Read the report HERE
19:07   COVID-19: Kapil Sharma donates Rs 50 lakh
Comedian Kapil Sharma has donated Rs 50 lakh to Prime Minister's Relief Fund to fight the novel coronavirus.

Kapil took to Instagram and wrote, "It's time to stand together with the ones who need us. Contributing Rs 50 lakh to the PM relief fund towards the #fightagainstcorona. Request everyone to #stayhome #staysafe #jaihind #PMrelieffund @narendramodi.(sic)"

The comedian has been trying to do his bit by raising awareness around Covid-19 on social media. Kapil also shared a post asking his fans to contribute money to sponsor food supplies for daily wage earners.

649 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in India as of today. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a 21-day complete lockdown on March 24 to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
18:54   Covid-19: Modi, Putin to coordinate efforts
Soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin's address to the nation on Wednesday on his government's coronavirus response and measures to be adopted to deal with the pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to him on the phone. 

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar has more on the India and Ruussian responses HERE
18:47   Brits to thank health workers with round of applause
People in the United Kingdom are preparing to thank National Health Service workers with a nationwide round of applause.

It was the idea of Dutch yoga instructor Annemarie Plas who wanted to show doctors, nurses, GPs and carers some national gratitude.

Her suggestion was picked up and supported by the likes of Victoria Beckham and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

People are being ask to clap from their front doors, gardens, balconies, wherever they may be, at 20:00 local time.
18:24   Dalai Lama donates food during India lockdown
The Dalai Lama today announced he will donate "essential supplies like food and medicine for the poor and needy members of the community as India locks down to contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

His office said in a statement that he had written to the chief minister of Himachal Pradesh, where Dharamsala the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile is located, to express his support.
"Since Himachal Pradesh has been my home for almost 60 years, the Tibetan spiritual leader wrote, I naturally feel an affinity for its people. 

The Dalai Lama expressed "confidence" that the steps being taken by the Narendra Modi government "will be effective in containing the spread of the virus." The amount of the donation was not disclosed, as per usual practice. 

The Dalai Lama on February 12 cancelled all his public engagements until further notice after his doctors advised him to because of the outbreak.
18:07   UP cop 'ashamed' for punishment during lockdown
Two days into the "total lockdown" ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to halt the spread of the COVID-19 virus, videos of police punishing those who violate curfews and ignore restrictions on movements have begun to emerge from across the country.

One such video -- from western Uttar Pradesh's Budaun town -- shows a group of young men forced to hop down a main road with bags strapped to their backs.

Reports from the town suggest they are migrant workers trying to return home amid the lockdown. They were caught by the cops, who refused to listen to their pleas, and humiliated by being made to hop and crawl in this heat.

"The policeman seen in the video is a probationer with about a year of experience. Senior officers were present but manning other spots. Corrective action will be taken. I apologise for the video and am ashamed about what happened," AK Tripathi, the Budaun police chief, said.
17:51   COVID-19 crisis: Maha govt welcomes Centre's financial package
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday welcomed the Centre's Rs 1.70 lakh crore package, saying it was necessary in view of the
coronavirus outbreak and assured that the state government will ensure the benefits reach the poor and needy.

Pawar who is the state finance minister, in a statement said the Centre must announce regular financial relief as the crisis situation unfolds.

He demanded a separate fund for setting up emergency health care services in the state and rest of the country.

The present package will be available to beneficiaries of the food welfare scheme and direct benefit transfer. The distribution of aid should begin immediately, he added.

The Centre has unveiled a Rs 1.70-lakh-crore economicmpackage involving free foodgrain and cooking gas to the poor for next three months, one-time doles to women and poor senior citizens, higher wages to workers and measures to boost liquidity of employees, as it looked to contain the impact of the nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

-- PTI
17:33   Stimulus pkg 1st step in right direction: Rahul
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said that the financial package announced by the government was the first step in the right direction towards providing relief to those who are bearing the brunt of lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

"The govt announcement today of a financial assistance package is the first step in the right direction. India owes a debt to its farmers, daily wage earners, labourers, women and the elderly who are bearing the brunt of the ongoing lockdown," Gandhi said in a tweet.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday announced a relief package of Rs 1.7 lakh crore for the poor and migrant workers to deal with 21-day countrywide lockdown that has been enforced to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). She said the government will ensure that no person remains without food during the lockdown. -- ANI
17:24   Cautious welcome: PC reacts to stimulus pkg
Former finance minister reacts to FM Nirmala Sitharaman's economic stimulus package in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is what he had to say: " I am glad that the government has announced a Financial Action Plan today that reflects some elements of the 10-point plan that I had put forward yesterday. I offer a cautious welcome.

-- It is a modest plan. In due course, the government will realize that it must do more. The plan gives adequate additional foodgrain to the poor for three months, and that is welcome.

-- The plan does not put enough cash in the pockets of the poor. Some sections have been left out altogether.

-- Our estimate of (the additional money that will be transferred (including the value of the grain and pulses) is Rs 1 lakh crore. Necessary but not sufficient at all.

-- You will notice that suggestions like help to tenant farmers and destitutes, maintaining current levels of employment and wages, tax deferment, EMI deferment, GST rate cut, etc. have not been addressed.

-- Lets hope there will be a Plan II shortly."

17:05   Rajnath reviews Defence Ministry's COVID-19 plan
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday reviewed the Ministry of Defence's action plan to deal with COVID-19 and urged armed forces, Defence Public Sector Undertakings and other organisations to gear up preparedness and provide all required assistance to civilian authorities.


Officials briefed the minister on various measures and assistance provided so far. The Indian Air Force has made several sorties and evacuated Indian nationals from affected areas in China, Japan and Iran.


Various quarantine facilities of the Armed Forces have so far handled 1,462 evacuees and discharged 389 persons.At present, 1,073 persons are being provided care at the facilities in Manesar, Hindan, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Mumbai.


A Defence Ministry release said that additional quarantine facilities with a capacity of 950 beds were on standby. -- PTI
17:01   IAF sets up 9 quarantine facilities
The Indian Air Force has created nine quarantine facilities of 200-300 personnel capacity each, at nodal IAF bases across the country. Command Hospital Air Force Bangalore has been designated as the 1st laboratory in the IAF to undertake COVID19 testing, the Indian Air Force said in a statement. IAF aircraft are continuing to fly in medical supplies and doctors to Leh and fly out blood samples for COVID19 testing to Chandigarh and Delhi. 

People at a vegetable market follow social distancing
16:52   India's COVID-19 tally 649 with 42 fresh cases
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare briefing on the COVID-19 situation. 
-- 42 fresh coronavirus cases and four deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours. -- Total number of cases stands at 649. India geared for COVID-19 challenge.

-- Work has started in around 17 states for COVID19 dedicated hospitals. 

-- Govt is taking steps to ensure that production, supply or distribution of essential goods & services do not get affected during 

-- States are working to provide food and shelter to migrant workers.

-- While the numbers of COVID-19 cases are increasing, the rate at which they are increasing appears to be relatively stabilizing. However, this is only the initial trend. 

-- Social distancing can be effective intervention in breaking chain of coronavirus transmission.

-- COVID-19 does not spread through mosquitoes.

-- There is still no hard evidence to say there has been community transmission of coronavirus in India. Community transmission phase of COVID19 will start if the community & we (the govt) don't work collectively & follow guidelines. But it would never happen in India if we follow social distancing & treatment properly.


16:51   COVID-19: Air India pilots' unions assure govt of full support
Air India pilots' unions, IPG an ICPA, have said their members will support the government and will operate any special flight irrespective of the extent of the coronavirus pandemic. 


In a joint letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian Pilots Guild and Indian Commercial Pilots Association said, Air India pilots note with "admiration" the proactive way in which the government has been working round the clock to combat the coronavirus pandemic. -- PTI
16:24   Meds you ordered online can now reach you despite lockdown
Government of India allows doorstep delivery of medicines/drugs to people in view of the COVID19 pandemic. Notification to be published soon in the Gazette of India.
16:13   Sensex high on stimulus pkg, up 1411 points
Extending its speedy recovery for the third straight session, equity benchmark Sensex surged by another 1,411 points on Thursday after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a stimulus package worth Rs 1.70 lakh crore to cushion the impact of the coronavirus lockdown in the country. 


The 30-share BSE barometer rallied 1,410.99 points or 4.94 per cent to settle at 29,946.77. It surged over 1,564 points during the session. Similarly, the NSE Nifty finished 323.60 points, or 3.89 per cent, up at 8,641.45. IndusInd Bank was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rallying up to 46 per cent. 


Other winners were Bharti Airtel, L&T, Bajaj Finance, Kotak Mahindra, Bajaj Auto, HUL and HDFC -- rising up to 10 per cent. On the other hand, Maruti Suzuki, Tech Mahindra, Sun Pharma and Reliance Industries closed with losses. 


In an effort to cushion the economic blow of the 21-day lockdown in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Finance Minister Sitharaman announced a slew of measures to help citizens survive the crisis. The Rs 1.70 lakh crore economic package involves free food grains and cooking gas to poor for the next three months, one-time doles to women and poor senior citizens, higher wages to workers and measures to boost liquidity of employees. The scheme will be implemented with immediate effect. -- PTI
A family in Vijaywada, AP, walks home
15:27   Andhra employees unions donate Rs 100 cr to COVID-19 fund
Is a Rs 100 crore relief package from the Bihar government generous? 
Consider this. 
Various employees associations in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday announced they would donate one day's salary of their workers, amounting to Rs 100 crore to Chief Minister's Relief Fund to fight a battle against coronavirus epidemic.

The representatives from Andhra Pradesh secretariat employees association, state NGOs association, AP revenue services association, RTC employees union, and retired employees association have met with Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and announced their donation.
15:18   Bihar announces Rs 100 cr COVID-19 relief package
In a bid to help the poor and daily wage labourers who are facing the brunt of the lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, Bihar government on Thursday announced a relief package of Rs 100 crore and has decided to convert schools into shelter homes.

The Nitish Kumar-led government said it will provide food to the needy in these temporary shelter homes.

For the migrants stranded in other states or who have returned to the state, the government has released Rs 100 crore from the Chief Minister Relief Fund.

According to data by the Union Ministry of Health Bihar has reported 3 positive cases of COVID-19 including one death.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in India has risen to 649, including 593 active cases and 42 people who have been cured or discharged from hospitals, the Ministry of Health said.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday announced a 21-day lockdown in the entire country effective from midnight to deal with the spread of coronavirus, saying that "social distancing" is the only option to deal with the disease, which spreads rapidly. -- ANI
15:12   COVID-19 lockdown: Delhi Metro services shut till April 14
The Delhi Metro Rail Cooperation on Thursday announced that its services would be shut till April 14 due to the national lockdown imposed by the Centre to curb the spread of coronavirus.

"We have received a few queries regarding the tenure of the closure of the metro services. It is hereby informed that, in light of the lockdown issued by the government, metro services will remain closed till April 14, 2020," the announcement read.

In his address to the nation on Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a 21-day lockdown in the entire country beginning Tuesday midnight to deal with the spread of coronavirus, saying that "social distancing" is the only option to deal with the disease, which spreads rapidly.

According to the Union health ministry bulletin, the number of cases in Delhi is 34. The total number of COVID-19 positive cases has climbed to 649 in the country, including 593 active cases, 42 cured or discharged people and 13 deaths, it added. -- ANI
14:58   Noida: No restriction on hawkers, online home-delivery services, says admin
The Gautam Buddh Nagar administration on Thursday allowed home-delivery services, including those delivering food, medicines and groceries, and the hawkers selling fruits and vegetables to operate without any pass amid the ongoing lockdown, officials said. 


The online services included in the list were Zomato, Flipkart, Amazon, 24Seven, BlueDart, DTDC, Wow Express, Swiggy, Grofers, BigBasket, Milkbasket, Dunzo, Big Bazaar, Snapdeal, Licious, Medlife, PharmEasy, Urban Clap, Ninja Kart, Honasa Consumer and Healthians Diagnostic, they added. Also Delhivery, Nutrimoo Milk Dairy, More Retail Ltd, Easy Day, Jabong, Myntra, Spencer's, Reliance Fresh, Jubilant Food works (Dominos Pizza), Food Panda, Faasos, Pizza Hut, Uber Eats, Needs Supermarket, 1mg, Dr Lal Path Labs, Max Path and Satva Cart.

They can operate without any pass, the officials said. District Magistrate (DM) B N Singh, who issued the order, stated that the staff of these firms can use their company identification card, which will be sufficient to carry out door-to-door delivery by them. "They will have to show their ID cards to the police authorities and also ensure that those will not be misused, otherwise legal action will be taken," Singh warned. 


The administration has also directed that there will be no restrictions for hawkers on taking their carts to sell essential items such as fruits, vegetables and ration across the sectors and societies. "The essential items kept on their cart will be treated as the pass for ensuring door-to-door supply. These hawkers, however, must ensure that no more than two people are present at their carts at any given time in order to maintain social distancing and prevent the coronavirus from spreading," the DM said in the order. Gautam Buddh Nagar has so far recorded 14 COVID-19 cases, while the number for Uttar Pradesh stood at 37. Across India, 649 cases were reported as of Thursday morning, according to official data. PTI


Image: People rush to buy vegetables and other essentials on the second day of the lockdown announced for entire country in Prayagraj on Thursday. 
14:26  
Bihar govt to bear expenses of migrant workers stranded in other states during lockdown: CM Nitish Kumar.
M&M group chairman Anand Mahindra
14:24   M&M hopes to be ready with ventilator prototype in 3 days
Mahindra & Mahindra on Thursday said it hopes to have a prototype of an automated version of bag valve mask ventilator, commonly known as Ambu bag, in three days for approval to assist in combating the coronavirus pandemic.  

The company said it is also working with two large PSUs along with an existing manufacturer of high spec ventilators to help them simplify design and scale up capacity. 
Daily wagers despair over making ends meet
14:19   5 kg grain, 1 kg pulses free for 3 months: FM
A recap on the economic stimulus that Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced just now: The government will ensure distribution of 5 kilo of wheat or rice and one kilo of preferred pulses free-of-cost every month over the next three months to 80 crore poor across the country to deal with the economic impact of the lockdown amid coronavirus outbreak. 

As many of 20.5 crore women Jan Dhan Account holders will get Rs 500 per month for next three months to run their households. For poor senior citizens, widow and disabled will get an ex-gratia of Rs 1,000. Also, the daily wage under MNREGA has been increased to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182 to benefit 5 crore workers. 

The minister said the government will front-load Rs 2,000 payment to farmers in the first week of April under the existing PM Kishan Yojana to benefit 8.69 crore farmers. Also, the beneficiaries of Ujjwala LPG scheme will get free cooking gas for the next three months, she said. This forms part of the Rs 1.70 lakh crore Gramin Kalyan Package. PTI

Image: A rickshaw puller waits for passengers on a deserted road, amid a nationwide lockdown over the highly contagious novel coronavirus in New Delhi. Daily wage earners are despairing over how they will manage their family's livelihood without any work
14:14   FM: Workers can draw 3 months salary from EPF
FM: Govt of India will pay the Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) contribution, both of employer and employee, put together it will be 24%, this will be for next 3 months. This is for those establishments which have up to 100 employees and 90% of them earn less that 15,000.
Govt ready to amend the regulation of EPF due to this pandemic so that workers can draw upto 75% non-refundable advance from credit in PF account or 3 months salary, whichever is lower.
14:09   Rs 31K cr fund for construction workers: FM
FM Sitharaman: Welfare for building and construction workers: Registered 3.5 crore workers to be benefited. Central government has given orders to State governments to use fund (Rs 31,000 crore) to provide relief. 
14:05   Free cylinders for 3 months
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman: Self-help women groups (7 crore housesholds covered), collateral-free loans doubled to 20 lakh, to increase money in hand. 
Ujjawala scheme near 8.3 crore BPL families covered in this, so that no running short of cooking medium, for 3 months free cylinders.
20 crore Jan Dhan Women account holders covered: Ex gratia amount of Rs 500 per month for the next three months. 

13:52   FM: Rs 2000/worker for 5 crore MGNREGA families
Wage increase in MGNREGA: 5 crore families benefited, an increase of Rs 2000 per worker on average as additional income, announces FM Sitharaman.
Old age, Divyang, pensioners: 3 crore people covered, one-time amount of additional Rs 1000 in two installments through DBT (hence no middlemen) over 3 months to be given.
13:47   Rs 2000 cash transfer for 8.69 crore farmers
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman: 8.69 crore farmers to be immediately benefited through direct cash transfers. Installment of Rs 2000 in the first week of April will be transferred. 
13:44   Migrant workers on 220 km walk home
Noor Jahan, a daily wager, is the kind of person the economic stimulus package is aimed at. Speaking to news agency ANI she said, "Since yesterday, I am walking towards my home in Abakarpur area of Kanpur Dehat. I hope to reach my home in a day or two. I am hungry but can not do anything about it here."

If your biggest problem is to do the household work as your maid stays home amid the lockdown spare a thought to migrant workers who have been walking along the Agra-Kanpur Highway to their homes in nearby districts. Services to all passenger trains and buses have been suspended in the nationwide lockdown. 

Awadhesh, a daily wager, says, "I started my journey from Sirsaganj area of Firozabad & will go to Ghatampur in Kanpur, a distance of roughly 220 km."

Heartbreaking.   
13:38   5 kilo rice free for poor
FM: Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Ann Yojna (for next 3 months): Rs 80 cr poor people covered (2/3rd of India's population). In addition to already allotted 5 kilo of rice/wheat per person, an additional 5 kilo will be free. Additional 1 kilo pulse (according to regional preference) will be given.
13:35   Rs 50 lakh health insurance cover for health workers
FM's economic stimulus finalised to deal with impact of corona lockdown. 

-- There will be Rs 50 lakh insurance per health care worker as a medical insurance cover for them for three months.These include doctors, nurses, paramedics, Asha workers. "Hopefully, we would be able to contain the virus in this period." Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says.


13:31   LIVE! FM: Rs 1.7 lakh crore COVID-19 package
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman's economic package to tackle the crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 


-- A package is ready for the poor who need immediate help like migrant workers and urban and rural poor. No one will go hungry. The package is worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore, the Finance Minister said. 
13:23   COVID-19 updates at this hour
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has announced a Rs 100 crore relief package for the poor in wake of  the Coronavirus lockdown.

All India Institute of Medical Sciences has constituted a task force to develop management protocols for the Coronavirus pandemic.

An audio clip is circulating on social media claiming that Nagpur has tested 59 positive coronavirus cases including 3 doctors. The assertion made in the audio is fake: Press Information Bureau
12:58   COVID-19: Sonia writes to PM, supports lockdown
Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, voicing her support to the 21-day lockdown announced by the PM in view of the coronavirus outbreak, and suggested several measures such as protection of doctors, easing the supply chains and deferment of loans.
 
The coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the world had caused serious public health concerns, anguish and apprehensions in India, she wrote in her letter to the prime minister.
"It has imperiled lives and put at risk the lives and livelihoods of millions, particularly, the most vulnerable sections of our society. The entire nation stands as one in solidarity in the fight to halt and defeat the Corona pandemic," Gandhi added.
She noted that the 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by the prime minister as a measure to fight the coronavirus was a welcome step.
"As President of the Indian National Congress, I would like to state that we will support and collaborate fully with every step taken by the Union Government to ensure the containment of the pandemic," Gandhi said.
At this challenging and uncertain time, she said it was imperative for each one of us to rise above partisan interests and honour our duty towards our country and indeed, towards humanity.
"It is in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation therefore, that I would like to suggest some measures that I believe will help us address the massive health crisis we are about to face and to ameliorate the immense economic and existential pain that vulnerable sections of our society will soon be subjected to," the Congress chief said.
She stressed on the need to arm doctors, nurses and health workers with personal protection equipment, including N-95 masks and hazmat suits.  
"Let us ensure the opening and scaling up of manufacture and supply of these items so that not a single health professional faces the predicament of contracting or passing on COVID-19 owing to unavailability of 'Personal Protection Equipment'," Gandhi said.
Announcing a special "Risk Allowance" for doctors, nurses and health workers for a period of six months retrospectively from March 1 was imperative, she added.
Noting that many businesses and companies were laying off and retrenching large numbers of regular and temporary employees, Gandhi said, "It would be in order for the Union Government to immediately put in place broad-based social protection measures, including direct cash transfer, to these sections to tide over the period of difficulty." -- PTI
12:49   Sitharaman to address media at 1 pm
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to address media at 1 pm, may announce an economic relief package amid coronavirus outbreak.
Health Minister Satyendar Jain.
12:09   800 quarantined after Delhi doc tests +ve
As many as 800 people have been quarantined for 14 days after they came in contact with a mohalla clinic doctor in Delhi, who was tested positive for the lethal infection, said the state's Health Minister Satyendar Jain.


The Minister informed that a mohalla clinic doctor and four others have tested positive after they came in contact with a woman who returned from Saudi Arabia. 


The doctor's wife and daughter have also tested positive for lethal infection.


"COVID-19 cases in Delhi have risen to 36. A mohalla clinic doctor and four others have been tested positive after they came in contact with an infected woman who returned from Saudi Arabia. The doctor's wife and daughter have also tested positive," Jain told media here.According to the Delhi Health Department, 800 people have been quarantined for 14 days as they came in contact with mohalla clinic doctor."


A total of 800 people who came in contact with the mohalla clinic doctor have been quarantined for 14 days," he said.
Social distancing at a grocery shop in Ahmedabad
11:59   70-yr-old COVID-19 patient dies in Guj; state toll rises to 3
A 70-year-old COVID-19 patient died in Gujarat's Bhavnagar district early Thursday morning, a health department officials said. With this, the total number of deaths due to coronavirus inthe state has gone up to three, they said. -- PTI
11:55   124 COVID-19 cases in Maha, cops use drones
Two new positive cases of Coronavirus in Mumbai and Thane; till now, the total number of positive cases in the state is 124, says the Health Department, Maharashtra. A 65-year-old woman from Mumbai who tested positive for Coronavirus, passes away; cause of death yet to be ascertained.

In Mumbai, police police are using drones to monitor people and ensure they stayed inside their homes or maintained social distancing while out on the streets during the national 21-day lockdown that began on Tuesday.


Through the drones, the police are able to keep a watch on the narrow lanes inside the city while they alerted people to stay indoors through announcements.


"Brothers and sisters, curfew has been imposed till April 14. You are requested not to step out of your homes. This is the only way to curtail the spread of Coronavirus. If you are found stepping outside your homes without any valid reason, then you would be charged under Section 188 of IPC," the Police announcement said.


The total tally of coronavirus positive cases in Maharashtra reached 124 on Thursday after two new cases of the infection were reported in Thane and Mumbai respectively, the state health department said.


According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the total number of positive COVID-19 cases in India reached 606, including 43 foreign nationals.


Number of cases of coronavirus cases in the country is now at 649 according to the Union health ministry update on Thursday morning (10.15 am). There are 593 COVID-19 active cases. -- ANI
11:43   China poses substantial threat to Americans' health, way of life: Pompeo
China's ruling Communist Party poses a substantial threat to Americans' health and their way of life, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday, blasting Beijing for the intentional "disinformation campaign" and trying to deflect from its handling of the coronavirus crisis. Pompeo, a known critic of China, said China's delay in sharing information about the virus had created risks to people worldwide. 


"The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) poses a substantial threat to our health and way of life, as the Wuhan virus outbreak clearly has demonstrated," Pompeo told reporters at a State Department news after video conference with his counterparts from G7 countries. 


"The CCP also threatens to undermine the free and open order that has underpinned our mutual prosperity and safety in the G7 countries," he said. Pompeo said, during the meeting, the US urged every country to work together to protect the UN and other organisations from China's malign influence and authoritarianism. "We G7 countries must promote our shared values of freedom, sovereignty, good governance, transparency, and accountability, and push the UN to uphold these principles as well," he said. 

There was a discussion among the G7 countries about the intentional disinformation campaign that China has been and continues to be engaged in, he said. "You see it. You see it in the social media. You see it in remarks from senior people inside the Chinese Communist Party talking about whether this was a US brought to China. This is crazy talk," he said. 

"Every member of the G7 today saw this disinformation campaign. China now making small sales of product around the world and claiming that they are now the white hat in what has taken place here. This isn't a time for blame; this is a time to solve this global problem. We are focused on that today," Pompeo said. -- PTI
11:34   ICMR invites bids for 7 lakh COVID-19 test kits
In an urgent move towards expanding the coronavirus diagnostics in India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has invited quotations from manufacturers for supply of kits for the testing of COVID-19. The move comes in the wake of the number of coronavirus cases crossing the 600 mark in the country with 13 deaths recorded so far. 


According to the apex health research body, it will procure seven lakh US FDA-EUA/CE-IVD/ICMR-NIV Pune-approved RNA extraction kits. Any manufacturer with an Indian-based supplier can submit quotations by Thursday 2.30 pm, the ICMR said. The kits have to be supplied to the ICMR's regional facilities at Mumbai, Delhi, Dibrugarh, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bhopal. The ICMR has asked the kit manufacturers to quote the prices of the kits, along with the number of tests that can be performed with one kit. It has also sought to know the timeline for the supply of the seven lakh kits. 


"The ICMR has estimated a tentative requirement of 7,00,000 test kits for which quotations are invited. The requirement is to ensure supply as soon as possible. Hence, please quote your maximum supply capability in the first week, along with a firm commitment for subsequent weeks," it said. It added that it might opt for parallel contracts to more than one vendor to ensure a timely supply. PTI
11:18   SpiceJet's special flight to take 142 Iran-returned Indians to quarantine facility in Jodhpur
SpiceJet said on Thursday that it will conduct a special flight on Sunday to take 142 Iran-returned Indians from Delhi to Jodhpur so that they can be taken to a government quarantine facility there.

"The special flight will be operated as per Government of India's request and the airline will deploy its Boeing 737 aircraft for the assignment," the low-cost carrier said in its press release. 


The airline's entire commercial passenger aircraft fleet of 82 Boeing 737, two Airbus A320 and 32 Bombardier Q-400s is currently grounded as the government has suspended domestic and international flight operations to curb the spread of coronavirus. -- PTI
11:16   Extending closures in Wuhan may prevent second wave of COVID-19: Study
Extending school and workplace closures till April, rather than March in the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese city of Wuhan, can likely delay a second wave of cases until later in the year, relieving pressure on health services, according to a new study.  

The research, published in The Lancet Public Health journal, says the closure of schools and workplaces in Wuhan have reduced the number of COVID-19 cases and substantially delayed the epidemic peak -- giving the health system the time and opportunity to expand and respond. 


In the study, researchers, including those from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the UK, used mathematical modelling to estimate that by lifting these control measures in March, a second wave of cases may occur in late August. 


However, they said, maintaining these restrictions until April, may delay a second peak until October, relieving pressure on the health services in the intervening months. 


The scientists also said given the large uncertainties around how many people an individual with the virus is likely to infect, and how long a person is infected on average, the true impact of relaxing physical distancing measures on the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic cannot be precisely predicted. 


"The unprecedented measures the city of Wuhan has put in place to reduce social contacts in school and the workplace have helped to control the outbreak", said Kiesha Prem from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who led the research.  "However, the city now needs to be really careful to avoid prematurely lifting physical distancing measures, because that could lead to an earlier secondary peak in cases. But if they relax the restrictions gradually, this is likely to both delay and flatten the peak," Prem said. -- PTI
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain
11:03   649 COVID-19 cases in India
The total number of COVID-19 positive cases rise to 649 in India (including 593 active cases, 42 cured/discharged people and 13 deaths: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare says. 


In Delhi the cases have risen to 36. A mohalla clinic doctor and four others have tested positive after they came in contact with an infected woman who returned from Saudi Arabia. The doctor's wife and daughter have also tested positive, Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain, says. "A total of 800 people who came in contact with the mohalla clinic doctor have been quarantined for 14 days," the Delhi Health Minister said. 
Shoppers without the mandated 3-ft distance queue up at store in Mumbai
10:35   Dead woman's sample tests coronavirus +ve; Maha toll reaches 4
The test report of a woman who died on March 24 turned out positive for coronavirus on Thursday, taking the COVID-19 death toll in Maharashtra to four, a health official said. The woman, who hailed from Navi Mumbai, had symptoms similar to the coronavirus infection. Thus, as a precautionary measure, her samples were taken and sent for testing, he said. 


"The test came positive this morning. We are now taking the necessary precautions for her relatives as well," the official said. With this, the number of COVID-19 deaths in the state has gone up to four, officials said. PTI
10:29   All social distancing norms went down the drain on Tuesday night: Virologist
On Tuesday, March 24, Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi called for a 21-day lockdown of the country in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus. Will this lockdown help in the battle against the virus is a question that many are asking.


"From a scientific perspective a 28-day lockdown is good, but, of course, the government has other things to worry about, like the economy and logistics," Dr Shahid Jameel, virologist and chief executive officer at the Wellcome Trust/India-DBT Alliance, a research funding agency supported by the United Kingdom and the Indian government, tells Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com.
10:24   Star of the sixties, actress Nimmi, passes away
Nimmi, the doe-eyed star of 1950s and '60s Hindi movies such as "Aan", "Barsaat" and "Deedar", died yesterday after a prolonged illness. She was 88. The actor was brought to a suburban Juhu hospital on Wednesday after she complained of breathlessness. She died in the evening, family sources told PTI. 


"She was admitted to the hospital on Wednesday afternoon after she complained of breathlessness. She passed away this evening. She had been unwell for quite sometime. She had been in and out of hospital this year," the source added. 


Nimmi will be buried at a cemetery in Reay Road in Mumbai on Thursday afternoon. 

The actor, born as Nawab Banoo, came to be known by her screen name 'Nimmi', which was given to her by filmmaker Raj Kapoor, who first spotted her as a shy teen on the sets of his film "Andaz". Raj Kapoor cast her as the second lead in "Barsaat" in 1949. The film had three popular songs -- 'Barsaat me hamse mile tum', 'Hawa me udta jaye' and 'Meri Patli qamar hai' -- picturised on her. 


Nimmi worked with top actors of her era, including Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand and Ashok Kumar in films "Sazaa", "Aan", "Uran Khatola", "Bhai-Bhai", "Kundan", "Mere Mehboob", "Pooja Ke Phool", "Akashdeep", "Love and God", which was her last film. 

Mourning her death, actor Rishi Kapoor said, "RIP. Thank you Nimmi aunty for all the blessings and love for Bobby on its premiere release. You were part of the RK family. Barsaat was your first film. Allha aapko Jannat naseeb kare. Ameen." -- PTI
10:22   Ganguly donates rice worth Rs 50 lakh for WB
As India continues its fight against coronavirus, the Board of Control for Cricket in India President Sourav Ganguly pledged to donate rice worth Rs 50 Lakhs to the needy people.


The Cricket Association of Bengal in its statement, said Ganguly along with Lal Baba Rice will provide rice to people who have been put in government schools for safety and security."#Sourav to provide Free Rice to the Needy It is heartening to note that Sourav Ganguly along with Lal Baba Rice has come forward to provide free rice worth Rs 50 lakh to the needy who have been put in government schools for safety and security. Hope this initiative of Ganguly would encourage other citizens of the state to take up similar initiatives to serve the people of our state. #CAB," CAB said in a statement.


CAB President Avishek Dalmiya has also lent support to the needy people as he donated Rs 5 lakhs to the Government's Emergency Relief Fund. 
The US has over 68,000 COVID-19 cases
10:10   Indian-American hoteliers offer free accommodation to stranded Indian students
Indian-American hoteliers have come forward to rescue the stranded Indian students in the US following implementation of lockdown measures in the country in response to the rapidly-spreading coronavirus pandemic, offering them free accommodation and free meals. 


With the students scrambling for a roof over their heads after being asked to vacate their hostels and India banning international flights for a week from March 22 due to the coronavirus pandemic, more than 6,000 rooms in nearly 700 hotels were offered to them by Wednesday following a call from the Indian Embassy. 


The Indian Embassy have been running a round-the-clock helpline since last week for the students in the US, who number over 2,50,000. Most of these hotels offered are in and around universities and colleges, but the hotel owners from across the country have come up in large numbers to the call given by community leaders, who have roped in Asian American Hotel Owners Association for the purpose. -- PTI
09:52   China reports 67 new imported coronavirus cases
China has reported no new local coronavirus infections for the second consecutive day, but the number of imported COVID-19 cases sharply rose to 67 in a day after the deadly virus was brought under control in its epicentre Wuhan, health officials said on Thursday. 


China's National Health Commission (NHC) said on Thursday, while no new domestically transmitted cases of coronavirus were reported on the Chinese mainland on Wednesday, 67 new confirmed cases were recorded, up from 47 a day earlier, all of which were imported. 

Also, although epicentres Hubei province and its capital Wuhan have been reporting zero cases for a while, death toll there continued to rise. On Wednesday, six deaths were reported from Hubei province taking the death toll in China to 3,287 people and total number of cases to 81,285. 

In Hubei and Wuhan alone as of Wednesday 3,169 people died since January. 

The virus was first reported in Wuhan in December last year. Also, Hubei reported 58 new suspected cases and nation-wide 159 people were still suspected of being infected with the virus, the NHC said. 

Hubei health commission said on Thursday that 914 people were still in severe condition and another 287 in critical condition in hospitals. 

The province so far reported a total of 67,801 COVID-19 confirmed cases, including 50,006 in Wuhan. 

As of Wednesday, the overall confirmed cases on the Chinese mainland had reached 81,285, this included 3,287 people died of the disease, 3,947 patients still being treated and 74,051 patients discharged after recovery, the NHC said. 

China on Wednesday downgraded the risk level of the coronavirus in its epicentre Wuhan from high to medium and resumed bus services within the city for the first time since the nine-week lockdown. -- PTI
09:44   US will work alongside India to combat COVID-19 outbreak: Diplomat
Senior US diplomat Alice Wells on Thursday echoed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to keep fighting spirits high against the coronavirus pandemic, saying that United States will work alongside India to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.


"We stand united with India and echo Narendra Modi's call to keep up our fighting spirits. The US will work shoulder to shoulder with India to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. Together, we can safeguard our citizens and people everywhere," the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) wrote on Twitter quoting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (PDAS) Alice Wells.On Monday, Senior US diplomat had praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for initiating 'Janata curfew' and applauding workers who are providing essential and emergency services and even risking their own safety in the face of coronavirus outbreak in the country."Inspiring to see people across India coming together despite being physically apart to applaud workers on the frontlines combatting COVID-19 Janta Curfew," Alice Wells said.


The Union Health Ministry had on Wednesday reported 606 positive COVID-19 cases in India including 43 foreign nationals. Meanwhile, the US has registered above 60,000 cases and over 800 deaths. -- ANI
09:36   Christchurch shooter pleads guilty to 51 charges of murder
In other news, Australian citizen Brenton Harrison Tarrant has pleaded guilty to the killing 51 people during last year's attacks on mosques in the city of Christchurch, Sputnik reported citing local media on Thursday.


Tarrant has admitted his guilt in a televised address to the court's hearing, Sputnik reported citing New Zealand's Herald newspaper.He was charged with 51 counts of murder and 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge under the Terrorism Suppression Act, the first time such a charge has been used inside the country.


On March 15, Tarrant, a 28-year-old suspected white supremacist from Australia, stormed into two mosques during congregational prayers and indiscriminately opened fire on the assembled, as per the police.


He was then arrested within 21 minutes of the first emergency call received by police.

The attacker live-streamed the massacre on Facebook, and the video later appeared on other online platforms.The act of terrorism left the entire Muslim community shaken, with the international community and locals showing their solidarity with the affected. -- ANI
09:34   5 more test positive for coronavirus in Indore; total cases rise to 10
With five more people testing positive for coronavirus in Indore, the total number of cases in the city have risen to 10, health officials said on Thursday. 

The five patients -- two women and three men -- were admitted in different hospitals of the city and tested positive on late Wednesday night, a spokesperson of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College said. 

On Wednesday, five people with no history of foreign travel had tested positive for coronavirus. They included three men, aged 48, 65 and 68, and two women, aged 50 and 65. 

The 65-year-old woman from neighbouring Ujjain died at the government-run MY Hospital in Indore on Wednesday. Earlier, six positive coronavirus cases were reported from Jabalpur and one each from Bhopal, Gwalior and Shivpuri. Meanwhile, a curfew has been imposed in Indore and Ujjain to contain the spread of the virus. PTI


Image: People at a Mother Dairy booth in Sector 19 in Gautam Budh Nagar, UP, stand apart 3-feet apart, the guideline set by the WHO to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.
09:03   3 persons test positive for coronavirus in Goa
Three persons, all with travel history abroad, tested positive for coronavirus in Goa on Wednesday, health department officials said, as the tourist haven joined the states which have reported COVID-19 cases.
This is the first time the tourist state has reported coronavirus positive cases.
The Directorate of Health Services, in a late night press statement here, said three suspected cases of COVID-19 from Goa, whose test results were awaited, have turned out positive.
All three are male patients of ages 25, 29 and 55 years. They have travel history of returning to Goa from Spain, Australia and the United States of America, respectively, the officials said.
The condition of the trio, admitted in Goa Medical College and Hospital near Panaji, is stable, the officials added.
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant said the state is providing the best healthcare facility to the diagnosed patients.
"I have been informed by the state Directorate of Health services that three individuals have been tested positive for #COVID19 in Goa. We are providing the best healthcare facility to the diagnosed patients," he said on Twitter.
Health minister Vishwajit Rane said the government is taking all precautions and following guidelines related to the viral infection.
In view of the three positive coronavirus cases in Goa, we are following all guidelines laid down by the central government and taking all precautions with the support of chief minister Pramod Sawant, he said.
Our testing facility will be up and running in the next two days. Our team of doctors is doing its est to make sure we contain the spread of virus in the state, Rane added. -- PTI
08:37   Washington DC closes all non-essential businesses
The Washington DC administration has ordered closure of all non-essential businesses until April 24, as part of its efforts to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
In an advisory on Wednesday night, the city administration also asked the residents to stay in their homes. 

The capital city of the United States has so far reported 185 confirmed coronavirus cases and two deaths.
"You have a critical role to play in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in DC. Effective at 10 pm tonight (Wednesday), the District of Columbia will close all non-essential businesses through Friday, April 24," the city government said.
"We are depending on you -- be a good neighbour, STAY HOME," it said. 
In the order, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser also prohibited gathering of 10 or more people.
"The intent of the order is to temporarily cease all non-essential business activities, including tour guides and touring services; gyms, health clubs, spas, and massage establishments; theaters, auditoriums, and other places of large gatherings; nightclubs; hair, nail, and tanning salons and barbershops; tattoo parlours; sales not involved in essential services; retail clothing stores; and professional services not devoted to assisting essential business operations," she said.
Bowser also directed an additional $15 million of the Cash Reserve Fund to be used for the purchase of ventilators, personal protective equipment, testing supplies, medical supplies, and other necessary equipment for DC's response to the coronavirus.
To date, the mayor has directed $53.15 million to the District's COVID-19 response and recovery. -- PTI 
08:19   PM to participate in G20 virtual summit today
Leaders of the Group of 20 nations will hold a summit today via video conference to discuss measures to protect the global economy, amid coronavirus pandemic which has claimed over 18,000 lives globally.

The summit, which will be chaired by Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, aims to "advance a coordinated global response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its human and economic implications," according to the statement published by the G20 Secretariat on Tuesday.

The lethal virus which was first detected in December last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has since, infected over 4,14,179 people around the world.

The coronavirus has already resulted in major disruption of global supply chains, volatility and large drops in the stock market and could cause a financial crisis as stated by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.

India is a member nation of the G20 group.

Speaking on the summit on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the Group of 20 has an important role to play in the fight against coronavirus.

He said: "The G20 has an important global role to play in addressing the #COVID19 pandemic. I look forward to productive discussions tomorrow at the G20 Virtual Summit, being coordinated by the Saudi G20 Presidency."

The other members include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.

In view of the coronavirus outbreak situation, several international organisations -- including the United Nations, the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization -- will take part in the summit.

Leaders from the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organization, International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- will also be the part of the conference. -- ANI
00:21   Govt suspends toll collection on highways
The government on Wednesday temporarily suspended toll collection on National Highways to ease emergency services in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

"In view of COVID-19, it has been ordered to temporarily suspend the collection of toll at all toll plazas across India," Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari announced.

This will not only reduce inconvenience to emergency services but also save critical time, he said.  -- PTI

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