Prime Minister Narendra Modi will on Thursday evening speak to the nation about the coronavirus crisis, which has caused school and college exams to be deferred and paramilitary soldiers to work in the "battle mode". Here are all the important news developments about the crisis from Wednesday.
School, university exams put off
School, university, and engineering entrance exams in the country were deferred till March 31, as the government scaled up measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The CBSE and other educational institutions were asked to put off exams in view of "safety and security of students". ICSE board exams for classes 10 and 12 will be held as scheduled.
Paramilitary forces in 'battle mode’'
The Indian Army reported its first patient after a 34-year-old soldier of Ladakh Scout regiment tested positive, prompting the government to ask all paramilitary forces to go into "battle mode". The government issued an advisory explaining soldiers' responsibility in containing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
276 Indians abroad have coronavirus
As many as 276 Indians abroad have coronavirus and 255 of them are in Iran alone, the government told Parliament after saying on Tuesday that it couldn’t confirm media reports about its citizens in the Islamic nation. Iran is one of the worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak, reporting nearly a thousand deaths from the disease.
Worldwide cases cross 200,000
The number of people infected by coronavirus worldwide crested the 200,000 mark and deaths topped 8,000, with the number of people now recovered at more than 82,000, according to a tally kept by Johns Hopkins University. So far, 81,000 people have recovered from the virus, mostly in China.
Fear about economy sets in
The coronavirus has sent India’s large and small businesses scrambling to cash in on what can be called as the "fear economy". Demand for respiratory and surgical masks, sanitisers and sterile wipes is shooting up as small and big medical companies sense an opportunity to capitalise. Take one example: Sterillium, the most efficacious hand cleanser, is out of stock.
Millions risk losing jobs: ILO
The coronavirus pandemic could increase global unemployment by almost 25 million, said the International Labour Organization in a new study. Workers risked losing up to $3.4 trillion in income this year, said the report, adding that an internationally coordinated policy response could "significantly lower" the damage.
Maharashtra reduces public transport seats
Maharashtra will operate its government offices with 50 per cent attendance and reduce passenger load on public transport services, including suburban trains, by 50 per cent. In buses operated by Mumbai's civic transport undertaking BEST, commuters will not be allowed to stand.
Trump shuts borders with Canada
The US-Canada border will close to nonessential traffic, US President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday, saying details on the move would be announced later but that it would not affect trade between the two countries. Trump's administration asked Congress to approve $500 billion in cash payments to taxpayers.
Coronavirus’ shelf life
The coronavirus can live for three days on some surfaces, like plastic and steel, new research suggests. Experts say the risk of consumers getting infected from touching those materials is still low, although they offered additional warnings about how long the virus survives in air, which may have important implications for medical workers.
Baba Ramdev’s claim questioned
Healthcare professionals are questioning claims by yoga guru and entrepreneur Baba Ramdev who said he has found an ayurvedic remedy for coronavirus. A promotional video showed Ramdev clutching a sample of the medicinal plant produced by Patanjali, the company he co-founded, and saying that scientific research had found Ashwagandha "doesn't allow blending of corona protein with human protein." He did not provide evidence for the research.