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Sat, 28 March 2020
Quarantine sticker pasted at Haasan's office

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23:56   Quarantine sticker pasted at Haasan's office
Chennai Corporation personnel stuck a home quarantine sticker on Saturday at the office of actor-politician Kamal Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam leading to speculation that the matinee star was quarantined for coronavirus.

The sticker, however, was removed later from the gate of MNM office.

While there was speculation if Haasan was quarantined, the Greater Chennai Corporation said their staffers pasted the sticker at the premises because actress Gautami Tadimalli 'has returned from Dubai recently and her passport has this address (Eldams Road in upscale Alwarpet)'.

The present residence of the actress was not known immediately.

The sticker, that read, 'We are in home quarantine to safeguard ourselves and Chennai from coronavirus' was removed soon, an official said declining to elaborate.

Kamal Haasan, in a statement, clarified he was not quarantined.

"Based on the notice stuck outside my house, news has been spread saying that I have been quarantined. But, most ofyou already know that I have not been living there for the past few years and the Makkal Needhi Maiam party office has been functioning from there," he said.

Further, the actor said, the news that he has been quarantined 'is not true'.

As a precautionary measure, he has been maintaining only social distancing.   -- PTI
21:51   Cong constitutes Covid task force
The Congress on Saturday constituted a task force to intensify efforts of party-ruled states to deal with the situation due to COVID-19 and help mitigate the sufferings of people.

The task force includes P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, Tamradhwaj Sahu and M Veerappa Moily.

'Congress president has constituted a task force to intensify the efforts of Congress-ruled state governments to deal with the situation prevailing on account of COVID-19, in a coordinated manner,' said an official communication from the party.

The members of the task force will start work immediately with the respective Congress-ruled state governments to ensure that the daily distress and suffering of people is mitigated, the statement said.

'P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, Tamradhwaj Sahu and Veerappa Moily, i.e, the chairmen of respective manifesto implementation committees in the Congress ruled states will be its members,' the Congress communication added.

The Congress has been criticising the Centre for not initiating enough measures to mitigate the sufferings of the poor and marginalised, who are facing hardships in view of the countrywide lockdown declared by the prime minister.   -- PTI
21:03   Yogi orders quarantining of 1 lakh entering UP
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Saturday issued directions to officials to quarantine the approximately one lakh people who have arrived in the state from other parts of the country in the last three days.

According to a statement issued by the state government, Adityanath said that in the last three days, one lakh people have come to UP from other states.

Their names, addresses and phone numbers have been made available to the district magistrates and they are being monitored.

The chief minister also issued directives that these people be kept in quarantine and arrangements for their food and other daily needs be fulfilled, the statement said.

"No one in the state should remain hungry during the lockdown," the chief minister was quoted as saying.

Adityanath, while chairing a review meeting at his residence, also issued directions to officials to strengthen the supply chain, it said.   -- PTI
20:06   GoAir offers to fly migrant workers home
No-frills carrier GoAir on Saturday evinced interest in flying thousands of stranded migrant workers in various states to the airports closer to their homes amid the lockdown across the country, and said it has approached the government on this issue.

With both passenger train and flight services shut till April 14 and no source of income due to the closure of all businesses, these migrant workers are stuck in major cities and looking for means to reach their native places.

Some of whom have been forced to even walk to their home towns and villages regardless of the distance. Due to suspension of air services, the aircraft of all domestic airlines are grounded.

India's millions of migrant workers are the most affected sections of our society during the ongoing 21-day lockdown in view of COVID-19, the airline said.

'In response to their plight and after seeing scenes of workers trying to walk hundreds of kilometres home with their families, including children, GoAir has reached out to the Civil Aviation Ministry and offered its services to fly these workers and their families to the airports closest to their homes,' the airline said.

Earlier, the airline on Thursday offered its grounded aircraft fleet, cockpit and cabin crew, and airport staff for carrying out emergency services and repatriation of citizens.

The city-based airline flies to 35 destinations, 27 domestic and seven international ones.  -- PTI
19:24   Akshay Kumar donates Rs 25 crore to Covid Fund
Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar on Saturday announced that he will be donating Rs 25 crore towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi's PM-CARES fund to help the government in its fight against coronavirus pandemic.

PM Modi had earlier on Saturday announced the creation of the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-CARES) where people can contribute and help the government in the fight.

Taking to Twitter, Akshay said that safeguarding the lives of the people is of paramount importance right now.

'This is that time when all that matters is the lives of our people. And we need to do anything and everything it takes. I pledge to contribute Rs 25 crores from my savings to @narendramodi ji's PM-CARES Fund. Let's save lives, Jaan hai toh jahaan hai,' Akshay wrote in tweet on Saturday.

His wife, former actor and author Twinkle Khanna, praised Akshay for the step.

'The man makes me proud. When I asked him if he was sure as it was such a massive amount and we needed to liquidate funds, he just said, 'I had nothing when I started and now that I am in this position, how can I hold back from doing whatever I can for those who have nothing,' she wrote.

A number of celebrities have come forward to donate money so as to help people in crisis.

South superstar Rajinikanth was the first celebrity to come forward by donating Rs 50 lakh to help daily wage workers.

Several A-listers from the south, including Prabhas, Mahesh Babu, Pawan Kalyan, Ram Charan and others have also donated money.

In Bollywood, Hrithik Roshan and Kapil Sharma too had come forward to fund relief work.

The 'War' star said he has procured masks for BMC workers and caretakers, while Kapil had donated Rs 50 lakh to the Prime Minister Relief Fund.   -- PTI
19:09   Commit all support to migrant workers: Shah
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday said the central government has committed all support to migrant workers during the 21-day lockdown announced to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The home ministry has also asked states and union territories to immediately set up relief camps for migrant workers, pilgrims, among others, who are returning to their domicile states or trying to do so during the nationwide lockdown period.

"As per the directions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government has committed all support to migrant workers during the lockdown period," Shah said, while reviewing the country's preparedness to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The lockdown came into effect on Wednesday.

Shah has authorised states to use state disaster response funds for relief measures for migrant workers during the lockdown, according to a home ministry statement.

With the intent of the Modi government to provide all possible support to migrant workers, the Union home secretary has 'again written to all states requesting them to immediately set up relief camps for migrant workers, pilgrims etc., who are returning to their domicile states or trying to do so during this lockdown period'.

States have been advised to give wide publicity and create awareness, using public address systems and utilising services of volunteers and NGOs, on the facilities being offered to migrant workers, the home ministry statement said.

The information that is to be given include location of the relief camps and the facilities being made available, relief package under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana and measures being taken by state governments.

States have been also advised to set up relief camps along highways for people, including tented accommodation to ensure that these persons stay in the camps till the lockdown orders are in place.

The shelters are to be organised, keeping in view various precautions including social distancing, with adequate medical check up drives to identify and separate cases requiring quarantine or hospitalisation.

The home ministry has also authorised all states to use the state disaster response fund for providing such relief measures.

These measures would further strengthen them to deal with this issue, the statement said.

A large number of migrant workers have left their work places in different parts of the country in the last few days and are walking down to their native places, hundreds of kilometres away facing hardships on the way.

The migrant workers have no option but to walk as there is no transport available after the announcement of the nationwide lockdown by Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday.

Seeing their plight, some state governments have made arrangements for their transport, accommodation and food of late.  -- PTI
18:34   Quarantined man runs nude, bites woman to death
A young man under home  quarantine for coronavirus after return from Sri Lankasuddenly ran out of his house nude and fatally bit a 80-yearold woman in his neighbourhood in a village near Theni, police said on Saturday.

The woman with injuries in her neck was hospitalised late Friday after the incident but died on Saturday without responding to treatment, they said.    

The man was overpowered and handed over to police.    -- PTI
18:32   In Raj, break lockdown, serve in Covid wards
Coming out with a unique way of 'engaging' those flouting the lockdown orders amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the district administration in Rajasthan's Jhunjhunu area has decided to send such violators to the quarantine wards to take care of coronavirus patients.

SDM Nawalgarh, Murari Lal Sharma also urged people to click photographs of those loitering on roads without any reason and send the pictures to the district authorities.

"I have decided that those flouting the lockdown orders will not be arrested and cane-charged by the police. We will use their services in sanitising the quarantine wards and taking care of the patients admitted in them," he told PTI.

Such people will be pressed into service in the quarantine wards set up at JJT University and Singhania University, the official said.

The official also circulated a message on social media to inform people about the decision.

"This is not a joke as we will implement it from Sunday as there is a huge requirement for people to serve COVID-19 patients. It will be a win-win situation as Nawalgarh will get rid of such people (on the roads), and patients will also get the benefit," says the order.

The state has reported 54 cases of the deadly disease.  -- PTI
17:50   Covid: PM announces emergency relief fund
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced the creation of an assistance and emergency situation relief fund where people can contribute and help in the government's fight against coronavirus.

The Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund will go a long way in creating a healthier India, he said on Twitter.

'People from all walks of life expressed their desire to donate to India's war against COVID-19,' he said, adding the fund has been constituted respecting that spirit.   -- PTI
17:45   Cops fire in air to quell unrest at Assam market
Police opened fire in the air in Assam's Bongaigaon district on Saturday morning to disperse an unruly mob at a market that attacked the security personnel when asked to abide by the lockdown order, an officer said.

None was injured in the melee, he said.

People had gathered in large numbers at meat and poultry shops of Bhawlaguri market in the district without maintaining social distancing norms.

As police intervened, most of them dispersed only to return with machetes and stones to attack the officers on duty.

The police personnel, when pelted with stones, resorted to lathi-charge and opened fired in the air to quell the unrest.

Additional police forces rushed to the site and cordoned off the entire area, the officer said, adding that four persons have been arrested in this connection.

On Friday, too, both vendors and customers at Folimari Budhbari market in Dhubri district had attacked police personnel, who were trying to enforce the lockdown order -- imposed by the government to contain the spread of Covid-19.  -- PTI

IMAGE: Locals stand in a queue to collect LPG cylinder at Uzan Bazaar in Guwahati. Photograph: PTI Photo
17:13   Farm activities exempted from lockdown: Centre
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Saturday said farming operations and related activities have been exempted from the lockdown rules for smooth harvesting of rabi crops and to ensure food security in the country.

"At this critical time, the exemptions have been given for agriculture related activities to ensure enough food supply to the people after the lockdown. It is also done to ensure ordinary citizens and farmers do not face problems," Tomar said in a statement.

To ensure that farmers do not face problems in harvesting, the Centre has directed concerned ministries and state governments to follow the exemptions strictly, he added.

Tomar said exemptions for farm activities were given after he raised the concerns of farmers and farm organisation with the Home Ministry.

On March 27, the government exempted farming operations, farm workers, custom hiring centres of farm harvesters and implements as well as mandis and procurement agencies from the lockdown rules.

The government has allowed fertiliser shops to function, and even manufacturing and packaging of fertilisers, pesticides and seeds have been permitted during the lockdown period.

Inter and intra movement of farm machinery related to sowing and harvesting is also exempted from the lockdown rules.  -- PTI
16:56   Lockdown botched-up, says Prashant Kishor
Election strategist Prashant Kishor on Saturday slammed the Union government's response to the coronavirus pandemic, alleging that the lockdown has been 'botched up' and there has been 'non-existent' treatment and care facilities for people needing such services.

India's response to COVID-19 needs to get better, he said in a tweet.

'For all our optimism, the bitter truth is India's covid response needs to get better than just banking on a botched-up lockdown, less than 10 covid test per million & non-existent COVID treatment & care facilities for people needing such services. India deserves better,' the former Janata Dal-United leader said.

In his tweets, Kishor has been highlighting the hardships being faced by migrants following the lockdown and attacked official handling of their plight.

His constant criticism of the Bharatiya Janata Party and JD-U president Nitish Kumar over the amended citizenship law and the measures like NPR and NRC had led to his expulsion from the Bihar party.

Following the announcement of a 21-day nationwide lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, Kishor had described the length of the shutdown 'a bit too long' and taken a dig at the government, saying this is the price one pays for 'being behind the curve'.  -- PTI
16:53   5 villages declared red zones to prevent spread of COVID-19 in Rajouri
Five villages in Manjakote tehsil of Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district were on Saturday declared as red zones and their surrounding villages as buffer zones to prevent the spread of coronavirus, officials said.

The villages include Sarola, Dehridhara, Mangal Nar, Gambir Muglan and Kotli, the officials said quoting an order issued by Rajouri District Development Commissioner Mohammad Nazir Sheikh.

Three persons hailing from Manjakote tehsil have tested positive for coronavirus in Rajouri district since Thursday.

"The area has become more vulnerable as far as further transmission of the COVID-19 virus is concerned. It is necessary to break further transmission of the disease in the area and it becomes imperative to take stringent precautionary measures like declaring some villages as containment/red zone and surrounding areas as a buffer zone," Sheikh said in his order.

Invoking prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC, the National Disaster Management Act and the Epidemic Disease Act, the district development commissioner said there would be no inward and outward movement of any person from these villages and the people would stay at their homes to ensure complete lockdown.

He said there would be no vehicular movement on the Rajouri-Bhimber Gali road.

Sheikh directed the officials concerned to ensure supply of essential commodities as per laid down protocols in the villages covering both local residents and outside labourers, and warned of stern action against anyone who try to violate the orders.  -- PTI
15:44   State disaster fund to be used to help migrants
The Union Home Ministry on Saturday changed the rules for assistance under the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF), facilitating availability of money for food and temporary accommodation for migrant workers during the 21-day lockdown.

In a communication to all chief secretaries, the ministry also said medical care and clothing can be provided to migrant workers during the lockdown period announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the new rules of the SDRF, provision for temporary accommodation, food, clothing medical cure etc., would be applicable to homeless people, including migrant labourers, stranded due to lockdown measures and sheltered in relief camps and other places, a home ministry official said.

There have been reports of a large number of migrant workers leaving their work places 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 are left with no option but to walk as normal transport services have been hit after the announcement of the nationwide lockdown by Modi on Tuesday.  -- PTI
15:41   China's coronavirus epicentre Hubei to resume domestic flights from Sunday
China has said the domestic passenger flights will resume operations in the coronavirus epicentre Hubei province, except for its capital Wuhan, from Sunday as part of a plan to ease lockdown in the region after it reported zero COVID-19 cases for several days.

No new confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease were reported in Wuhan on Friday, though the city reported three new fatalities, taking the total death toll in China to 3,295.

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

Domestic operations in the province except in Wuhan Tianhe International Airport will be resumed from Sunday, China's Civil Aviation Regulator (CAAC) said on Friday.

Local bus and train services have already resumed in Wuhan and Hubei province.

Wuhan and the province with over 56 million people was kept under lockdown from January 23 as part of aggressive measures to bring down COVID-19 cases which rapidly spread in the area.

Flight operations from Wuhan would start from April 8, CAAC said.

Due to mounting pressure from the epidemic prevention and control, the flights to resume services exclude international passenger flights, flights to and from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and those between Hubei and Beijing, state-run Xinhua new agency reported.

The cargo flights will resume operations from March 29 at all airports in the central Hubei Province.

Aviation companies are encouraged to add extra domestic and international cargo flights to stabilise the supply chain, the CAAC said.

The novel coronavirus, that first originated in wuhan in December, has wreaked havoc across the globe, upending life and businesses.   -- PTI
15:38   China's coronavirus epicentre Hubei to resume domestic flights from Sunday
China has said the domestic passenger flights will resume operations in the coronavirus epicentre Hubei province, except for its capital Wuhan, from Sunday as part of a plan to ease lockdown in the region after it reported zero COVID-19 cases for several days.

No new confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease were reported in Wuhan on Friday, though the city reported three new fatalities, taking the total death toll in China to 3,295.

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

Domestic operations in the province except in Wuhan Tianhe International Airport will be resumed from Sunday, China's Civil Aviation Regulator (CAAC) said on Friday.

Local bus and train services have already resumed in Wuhan and Hubei province.

Wuhan and the province with over 56 million people was kept under lockdown from January 23 as part of aggressive measures to bring down COVID-19 cases which rapidly spread in the area.

Flight operations from Wuhan would start from April 8, CAAC said.

Due to mounting pressure from the epidemic prevention and control, the flights to resume services exclude international passenger flights, flights to and from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and those between Hubei and Beijing, state-run Xinhua new agency reported.

The cargo flights will resume operations from March 29 at all airports in the central Hubei Province.

Aviation companies are encouraged to add extra domestic and international cargo flights to stabilise the supply chain, the CAAC said.

The novel coronavirus, that first originated in wuhan in December, has wreaked havoc across the globe, upending life and businesses.   -- PTI
15:14   Kerala traces contacts of Class 10 student tested positive
A 10th standard student of a government school in Kasaragod, who appeared for the SSLC examination this month, is among the positive cases detected in Kerala.

Her father, who had returned from abroad on March 17, has also tested positive and two other family members are under observation, health department sources in Kasaragod said.

Efforts were on to trace all those with whom the student is suspected to have come in contact, they said.

At least 19 other students were also there in the class the affected girl had written the exam on March 19.  -- PTI
14:44   200 UP buses to carry migrants stuck at border
The Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation is arranging buses for migrant workers and others who are stuck at state's border with Delhi, while walking back home after a 21-day lockdown was announced.

In Statement, UPSRTC managing director Raj Shekhar said, 'On the directions of the government of Uttar Pradesh, the UPSRTC is deploying buses to provide transport facilities to people stuck at various points at border district of Delhi.

'The buses have started reaching Noida and Ghaziabad. Around 200 buses will depart every two hours. A few buses that have already left Gaziabad, Noida and bordering areas are on the way to various destinations in UP.'

He further said, 'UPSRTC requests all DMs/SSPs/SPs to inform all their border check points not to stop these buses en route.'

The MD informed that the exercise of carrying people to their homes in UP will be taken up today and tomorrow.

The UPSRTC has also requested district administrations to arrange for screening of these passengers when they arrive and record their details for 'further monitoring'.
14:16   Border shut, woman gives birth in ambulance
A pregnant Bihari migrant woman in labour gave birth in an ambulance after the Karnataka police allegedly refused to allow the ambulance carrying her to cross the border road to Mangaluru to reach her hospital.

The border road was shut due to the lockdown.

The woman used to consult a doctor in Mangaluru across the border.

As Karnataka police stopped the vehicle at the border in Talapady, saying no vehicle, including ambulances from Kerala, could be permitted to their state, the drivers decided to take the woman was taken to the general hospital in Kasaragod, but she went into labour and delivered a baby girl in the vehicle.

Both the mother and baby are doing fine, authorities said.

Hailing from Patna in Bihar, 25-year-old Gowri Devi and her husband were working in a local plywood factory in this north Kerala district, from where the maximum number of coronavirus cases have been reported so far in the state.

Those living in the border towns and villages of Kasaragod are dependent on the hospitals in Mangaluru as it is nearer, local people said.

The ambulance drivers- Aslam and Musthafa- said they stopped the vehicle by the wayside, making it safe for the woman.

The baby girl and the mother were soon shifted to the government general hospital in Kasaragod and both of them are safe and healthy, they said.

Local people complained that not only pregnant women, but even patients requiring daily dialysis and emergency cardiac and cancer treatment were being sent back by Karnataka.  -- PTI
14:11   3,000 migrant workers going on foot stuck at Maha-Guj border
Over 3,000 migrant workers from Gujarat and Rajasthan, currently working in the Mumbai metropolitan region, who started walking back to their native places, got stranded at a village in Maharashtra's Palghar district as the border has been sealed by the states amid the lockdown, police said.

These people, who work in parts of Mumbai, Boisar, Virar, Vasai, Vashi and other adjoining places, got stranded in Acchad village in Talasari taluka of Palghar on Friday, police said.

After hours of efforts by the district and police authorities, they finally returned to their places in the Mumbai metropolitan region, they added.

According to police, these people had started their journey to Rajasthan and Gujarat on foot as no transport facility was available due to the ongoing lockdown.

The governments in Maharashtra and Gujarat have sealed their borders due to the lockdown.

"More than 3,000 migrant workers from Rajasthan and Gujarat, who currently work in and around Mumbai, started walking back to their native places on Friday.

"But as the Maharashtra-Gujarat border has been sealed, they could not enter the neighbouring state," inspector Ajay Vasave of Talasari Police Station said.

"As they could not cross the border, they got stuck in Acchad village. They squatted along the border for hours.

"Since it was very risky to gather at one place in such large numbers amid the coronavirus outbreak, the district and police authorities started persuading them to go back to their places in and around Mumbai," he added.

Initially, they were adamant on going to Gujarat and Rajasthan, but later agreed to return to their places, the official said.

"The authorities provided food to them and also made arrangement for their transport," Vasave said.

The authorities heaved a sigh of relief after all of them left the place, he said.  -- PTI
12:57   Kerala reports first COVID-19 death
Kerala reported its first COVID-19 death on Saturday after a 69-year-old man being treated for the virus died at Ernakulam Medical College Hospital.

The man, hailing from Ernakulam, was admitted to the isolation ward on March 22 after his return from Dubai, the government hospital said in a statement.

He was admitted with symptoms of pneumonia but later tested positive for coronavirus, it said.

He was also suffering from heart disease and high blood pressure and had udergone a bypass surgery earlier, the statement said. He breathed his last at 8 am.

The body has been handed over to the relatives, the statement said.  -- PTI
12:49   Delhi records lowest pollution levels in 6 months
The sun shone bright in a cloudless blue sky in the national capital which recorded a significant drop in the mercury on Saturday due to intermittent rains over the last two days.

The city and its surrounding areas also recorded lowest concentrations of PM10, particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter, since August 18 last year.

At 10 am, PM10 levels in Delhi-NCR stood at 32.5 microgram per cubic meter, the lowest since 15.9 g/m3 recorded on August 18 last year.

The city's overall air quality index at 11 am stood at 40, which falls in the 'good' category.

Environment and weather experts attributed the improvement in the air quality to the 21-day lockdown enforced to contain the spread of the coronavirus and rains and gusty winds due to successive western disturbances.

They said the air quality is expected to oscillate in the good or satisfactory categories due to the reduction in local sources of pollution -- vehicular pollution, construction dust, stack emissions etc -- due to the lockdown.

Delhi recorded a minimum of 15.7 degrees Celsius, four notches less than that recorded on Friday.

The Safdarjung Observatory, which provides representative figures for the national capital, recorded 5.3 mm rainfall till 8:30 am on Saturday.

The weather station at Palam recorded 3.2 mm rainfall.

The national capital has recorded 109.6 mm rainfall so far, the highest ever in March. -- PTI
12:00   Kerala says K'taka blocking movement of supplies
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has drawn the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the action of Karnataka police in blocking a key state highway ferrying essential commodites to the state and urged him to immediately intervene in the matter.

In a letter to Modi, the chief minister pointed out that the Thalassery-Coorg State Highway 30, connecting Kerala with Coorg in Karnataka via Veerajapetta, was a key highway on which cargo lorries ferry essential commodites to Kerala.

If this route was blocked, the lorries would have to traverse a longer route to reach the state, he said.

'This route is a lifeline for the flow of essential commodities to Kerala. If this is blocked, vehicles carrying essential commodities will have to travel a much longer route to reach our state. Given the situation of the national lockdown, this will add much more hardship to the people, he said in the letter, sent on Friday.

'You will naturally agree with me that no action impeding the movement of essential commodities should be initiated at this moment of crisis,' he said.

A copy of the letter was released to the media here on Saturday.

Vijayan requested Modi to intervene urgently in the matter to ensure smooth flow of essential commodities to Kerala when the state is fighting COVID-19 on a war footing.  -- PTI
11:51   Rahul makes an appeal as migrants march home
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi this morning tweeted an appeal to help the migrants trying to reach their homes as India enters fourth day of a "total lockdown" for three weeks, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday to control spread of coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.

He urged people across the country to help the migrants by offering food or shelter as they undertake arduous journeys. "Today, hundreds of our starved brothers and sisters, along with their families, are forced to head to homes in their villages on foot. Help them if you can by offering them food, shelter as they undertake an arduous journey... special appeal to Congress workers, supporters. Jai Hind!" he wrote in Hindi.

Thousands of migrants - left jobless by the COVID-19 shutdown- have been marching to their homes, covering a journey of hundreds of kilometres on foot, since a nationwide 21-day lockdown over COVID-19 began on Wednesday.

All transport services are shut, including passenger trains and interstate buses in a bid to curb COVID-19 spread. Huge numbers had crammed onto trains and buses before the country of 1.3 billion people ground to a halt for three weeks, but many others were left stranded.

10:38   Woman held for spreading fake news on COVID-19 in WB
A woman in Kolkata was arrested on Saturday for allegedly spreading fake news pertaning to spread of coronavirus.

The accused identified as Chandrima Bhowmik was put behind the bars for posting a fake social media post about a Beliaghata doctor being infected with COVID-19. 

On Friday, Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee during her press conference had raised this issue and instructed Kolkata Police Commissioner to investigate and take necessary action in the matter.

-- ANI
10:05   Tom Hanks back home after being cured of COVID
Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson returned to Los Angeles on Friday after spending more than two weeks in quarantine in Australia after testing positive for the coronavirus.

Hanks, a double Oscar winner and one of Americas most beloved stars, and Wilson were the first big celebrities to announce they had tested positive for the disease.

They were treated in hospital in Australia and isolated themselves for a further period after leaving.

Hanks last post on his Twitter account on Sunday said it had been two weeks since their first symptoms and that they were feeling better.

Hanks was in Australia working on a movie about Elvis Presley when he announced on 11 March that he and Wilson had tested positive for the disease.

Filming has since been shut down on the movie, and on hundreds of other film and television productions worldwide.
09:49   Up to 10 pc of recovered coronavirus patients in Wuhan test positive again: Report
About 3 to 10 per cent of recovered coronavirus patients in China have tested positive again after being discharged from the hospital.

Doctors from Tongji hospital on the frontlines of the outbreak in Wuhan -- where the virus emerged -- told state broadcaster CCTV that they have found no evidence that these patients who again tested positive became infectious, based on close observations of their family members and laboratory tests. 

The Chinese mainland, where the disease first emerged last December, has discharged over 90 per cent of its infected patients and around 4,300 confirmed patients are still receiving treatment in hospitals.

The country has reported at least 81,000 cases and more than 3,200 deaths, but most of the new cases have been imported.

The hospital confirmed that five of 147 patients -- only over 3 to five per cent -- tested positive again in nucleic acid tests, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

"So far there is no evidence to suggest that they are infectious," said Wang Wei, the hospital's president.

He said the five patients who tested positive again did not have any symptoms and none of their close contacts had been infected.

Researchers around the world are trying to determine whether recovered patients can still infect people with the coronavirus that causes the disease and if they have developed antibodies offering them immunity to the disease.

Meanwhile, other quarantine facilities in Wuhan have seen about 5 to 10% of their recovered patients test positive again. The findings were reported by the health news outlet Life Times, which is affiliated with state-run newspaper People's Daily.

-- ANI
Kamal Nath attending his last press conference as MP CM
09:19   FIR against scribe who tested positive for COVID-19
AN FIR has been filed against a journalist who attended Kamal Nath's last
press conference as CM.

The journalists daughter had recently returned from the United Kingdom and had become the first person in Bhopal to test positive. He was present at Kamal Naths final press conference as chief minister.

It has created panic in the media fraternity in Bhopal and all journalists have decried the journalists behaviour as irresponsible. Journalist associations have issued statements accusing him of attending the press conferences despite knowing that his daughter had the disease. Both father and daughter have now been quarantined in AIIMS, Bhopal after test results on March 24 showed they had the viral infection.

The journalist is a Bhopal veteran. His daughter had completed her LLB and had gone to London for further studies. She came back to India on March 15 and was tested at the Delhi airport. All incoming passengers were advised to self-quarantine, even if they showed no symptoms at the time of arrival.

She came to Bhopal with her brother on March 17, following which her father attended the press conference and met and shook hands with at least a hundred other journalists and political party workers. During this time, he was aware of the fact that his daughter had just returned from abroad and had begun showing symptoms of COVID-19. He visited the vidhan sabha after that and met several officials. Now, the staff of the vidhan sabha has gone into quarantine after the journalist tested positive for the disease. The father and daughter were tested for the viral infection on March 20, at the insistence of journalists who raised the issue on the day of Kamal Naths press conference.
09:07   Thackeray assures CMs who urged help for migrant workers amid COVID-19 lockdown
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has assured help to all the people who are fleeing to their native places amid nationwide lockdown due to coronavirus pandemic and requested them to stay where they are.

Thackeray said chief ministers of other states had requested him to take care of people from their states.

"We have seen people who were hiding in milk tankers while trying to go to their native states getting caught. Many CMs have requested me to take care of people from their states. We request people to stay at their place, we will take care of them," Thackeray said.

The development came after Maharashtra Police had earlier on Thursday found over 300 migrant workers holed up inside two container trucks meant for carrying essential commodities from Telangana to Rajasthan.

Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah has also spoken to some of the chief ministers and asked them to look into the issue of the mass exodus of migrant workers from different parts of the country.

08:27   US Covid-19 figures cross 1,00,000
The United States on Friday became the first country to report 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases as President Donald Trump signed into law a $2 trillion emergency spending bill aimed at protecting average American families and businesses from economic hardships caused by the outbreak.

The American president also used for the first time war-time powers under the Defense Production Act, under increasing pressure from state governors, to force a private company, General Motors, to ramp up production of ventilators needed to treat severely ill Covid-19 patients.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases continued to climb aggressively, meanwhile, and crossed the 100,000- mark, a first anywhere in the world. It ended Friday at 101, 657, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker; almost 14,000 more than the next worst hit Italy (86,498). China (81,897) is in third place. 

The number of US deaths also continued to climb, to 1,581. New York state drove the surge with 527 fatalities (and 44,876 confirmed cases, also the most for any US state), bulk of which were accounted for by New York City, 366. Other states with high fatalities are Washington, New Jersey and California.
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan walked the ramp during the Le Defile L'Oreal show as part of Paris Fashion Week in 2019
08:14   Paris Fashion Week cancelled due to coronavirus
Two of the main events in the fashion calendar, the Paris Fashion Week and the Haute Couture week, due to take place in June and July, have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, organisers said on Friday.
  
"Strong decisions are required to ensure the safety and health of Houses, their employees and everyone working in our industry," the Federation de la Haute Couture et de la Mode said in a statement.

"The board of directors has come to the decision that, in the present conditions, the Paris Fashion Week Menswear, scheduled from June 23rd to June 28th, 2020, and the Haute Couture Week scheduled from July 5 to July 9, 2020, cannot take place," it said.
07:52   Coronavirus cases climb to 834, toll reaches 19
The number of COVID-19 cases climbed to 834 in India on Saturday with the death toll rising to 19, according to the Union Health Ministry.
  
In its updated figures, the ministry stated two fresh deaths.
However, it could not be immediately known where these two new deaths were reported from as the state-wise figures are awaited.
So far, deaths have been reported from Maharashtra (4) Gujarat (3), Karnataka (2 ) and one each from Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal, Jamnu and Kasmir and Himachal Pradesh.
According to the data, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country stood at 748, while 66 people were either cured or discharged and one had migrated.

-- PTI
00:16   Rly asks staffers to donate day's pay for COVID
The Railway Board has urged all railway employees to donate one day's salary to the prime ministers relief fund to aid the government's efforts to fight the coronavirus.
  
The Board has written to all general managers asking them to appeal to employees in their zones to make the donation.

"An appeal should be made to each one of Railway servants to generously contribute to PMNRF by donating at least one day's basic pay towards this cause," the Board said in its letter. 

It also said the coronavirus outbreak is one of the worst and most unprecedented disaster faced by the nation. 

"In order to facilitate voluntary contribution to PMNRF, it is suggested that one day's basic pay should be deducted from salary of all willing Railway servants except those who give a specific declaration either (a) for non deduction : or (b) for deduction of an amount less than one day's basic pay, on this account," the letter stated.

It also directed the zonal railways and production units to transfer the consolidated amount towards contribution to PMNRF to the Railway Board so that a single cheque on behalf of all emloyees can be handed over to the Prime Minister''s Office.

-- PTI

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