The Centre has decided to treat coronavirus as a ‘notified disaster’ for the purpose of providing assistance under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) and has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 4 lakhs to families of those who die of the novel coronavirus.
The disaster management division of the Union Home Ministry has issued a letter to the chief secretaries of all the states. The number of coronavirus-positive cases in the country has risen to 84, which includes the two deaths in Delhi and Karnataka, the Union Health Ministry said.
Seven persons who tested positive, including five from Uttar Pradesh and one each from Rajasthan and Delhi have been discharged after treatment, a senior health ministry official said.
Delhi has reported six positive cases and Uttar Pradesh 11 so far. Karnataka has six coronavirus patients, Maharashtra 14 and Ladakh three while Jammu and Kashmir reported two cases.
Besides, Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Punjab have reported one case each.
Kerala has recorded 19 cases, including three patients who were discharged last month after they recovered from the contagious infection.
The total number of 84 confirmed cases includes 17 foreigners — 16 Italian tourists and a Canadian, the ministry said.
“The number of coronavirus-positive cases in India has risen to 84,” Special Secretary in the health ministry, Sanjeeva Kumar, said, adding that more than 4,000 people who had come in contact with those testing positive have been identified through contact tracing and are under surveillance.
He further said that there have been cases of people not willing to be quarantined, despite coming in contact with people testing positive.
He informed that a Mahan Air flight bringing back Indian passengers from Iran will land in Mumbai on Saturday midnight. A special Air India flight is also being sent to Milan in Italy on Saturday to bring back Indian students, he added.
Kumar said all essential facilities like community surveillance, quarantine, isolation wards, adequate PPEs, trained manpower, rapid response teams are being strengthened further in all states and UTs.
The government on Friday declared masks, including N95, and hand sanitisers as ‘essential commodities’ under the Essential Commodities Act in the wake of the coronavirus scare leading to shortages and black marketing of these items.
These items will remain under essential commodities segment till June-end, a move aimed at ensuring availability at reasonable prices and cracking down on hoarders and black marketeers.
Even as the World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic, the health ministry officials on Friday asked people not to panic, saying no community transmission of the virus has been observed and there has only been a few cases of local transmission so far.
The Centre, as part of its measures to contain the spread of the disease on Friday announced that people will be allowed to travel through 19 of 37 land border checkposts from Saturday midnight and services of Indo-Bangladesh cross border passenger trains and buses will continue to remain suspended till April 15.
Only four Indo-Nepal border checkposts will remain operational, and for citizens of Bhutan and Nepal visa-free entry to the country will continue, the home ministry’s Additional Secretary Anil Malik had said.
He said the decision on closing the Kartarpur corridor is under consideration The government on Wednesday suspended all visas, barring a few categories like diplomatic and employment. It also asked Indian nationals to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.
All incoming international passengers returning to India should self-monitor their health and follow the required do’s and dont’s as detailed, the government said. Meanwhile, a 71-year-old man who had returned from Saudi Arabia and was suspected to have coronavirus infection died during treatment in Maharashtra’s Buldhana district on Saturday afternoon, a hospital official said. He was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure.
The last rites of a 68-year-old woman, who died in the national capital after being infected with coronavirus, were performed on Saturday at the CNG crematorium at Nigambodh ghat under supervision of medical authorities.
Doctors from the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) hospital and from MCD oversaw the funeral after the crematorium staff reached out to the authorities seeking directives on ensuring that the infection didn't spread from the body.
Officials said the Nigambodh Ghat Sanchalan Samiti, which manages the operations at the crematorium, delayed the last rites by a few hours and approached municipal authorities to seek directives in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
Across the country, institutions seem to be taking steps to protect themselves. Six benches of the Supreme Court will on March 16 take up only 12 urgent matters each to avoid overcrowding of court rooms, following the decision to restrict the apex court functioning in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Among the important matters which have been listed for hearing on Monday are anticipatory bail pleas of civil rights activists Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde, accused in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case, and a petition by a Nirbhaya case convict.
The court, which had on March 13 announced that only six of the 15 benches will be sitting to hear only urgent matters, on Saturday issued instructions for the staff, including thermal screening of all employees and closure of cafeterias.