The country is fighting a war against the novel coronavirus and the aim is to win it in 21 days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday, a day after he announced a national lockdown of three weeks to combat the pandemic.
India has 624 confirmed cases of COVID-19, of which 568 are active, according to data from the Health Ministry and State governments. The death toll stands at 13, with Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh recording their first COVID-19 deaths. Gujarat has reported its second death.
Among India’s immediate neighbours, China has registered over 81,000 confirmed cases so far, according to the WHO. In Pakistan, over 900 confirmed cases and eight deaths have been registered.
The new 24/7 national helpline numbers are 1075 and 1800-112-545 and 011-23978046. Email: ncov2019-at-gmail.com. The Prime Minister has announced a WhatsApp helpdesk number: 9013151515.
Here are the latest updates:
In Spain’s capital, ice rink turned into makeshift mortuary as number of cases soar
The capital’s Palacio de Hielo mall, home to an Olympic-sized ice rink, began operating as a makeshift mortuary after authorities said facilities were unable to cope.
Thousands of migrant workers leave on foot or motorcycles
Facing lockdown and no work, major cities of Gujarat, including Surat, Ahmedabad and Vadodara, are witnessing an exodus of migrant workers leaving in the thousands, either walking or on motorbikes, with a complete shutdown of transportation services.
Local officials said over 5,000 motorcycles have left Surat. “Migrant workers from diamond and other sectors are leaving on motorbikes because factories are shut,” a senior official from Surat said.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan announces advance pension, home delivery of medicines
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday announced that all Below Poverty Line (BPL) families would be provided a month’s ration free, in view of the lockdown. Mr. Chouhan further said ₹1,000 would be provided to labourers as support through the State Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board.
NRDF puts 84 response teams on standby
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will be part of the control rooms being opened in the States, at the order of the Union Home Ministry, to oversee the 21-day lockdown. Each of the 12 NDRF battalions has been divided into 84 response teams that have been put on standby. “All the battalions are on a high alert and ready to respond to any emergency. The situation is being monitored round the clock…,” said an official. In Delhi, four teams had been deployed.
Amarinder Singh urges steps to evacuate pilgrims
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has urged the Central and Maharashtra governments to evacuate pilgrims stranded at the gurdwara at Nanded in Maharashtra amid the lockdown to fight the coronavirus.
In a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Captain Amarinder Singh said around 2,000 pilgrims from Punjab who had gone to the Hazur Sahib in Nanded. Hazur Sahib is one of the five spiritual and temporal centres of Sikhism.
370 foreign tourists evacuated
Three hundred and seventy foreign tourists from the U.K. and Russia, who came to Goa for holidaying but were left stranded owing to the COVID-19 outbreak, were flown out in two special relief flights on Wednesday.
The relief flights approved by the Indian government saw 249 tourists fly to Manchester, while another 121 left for Moscow. Goa Airport Director Gagan Malik said despite all odds and skeletal staff on duty, the relief flights to Manchester and Moscow were handled well.
We will celebrate Gudi Padwa once we tackle this crisis: CM
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday refrained from making any negative comments about the Centre even as he acknowledged the panic buying spree in the State after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on Tuesday announcing the 21-day nationwide lockdown.
7,990 under quarantine in Kannur
The number of people under quarantine in homes and hospitals for COVID-19 reached 7,990 in Kannur district on Wednesday.
According to the District Health Department, 81 persons are under observation in hospitals. Currently, 41 persons are in Kannur Government Medical College, 26 persons are in the District Hospital and 14 in the Thalassery General Hospital. So far, 240 samples from the district have been sent for testing, of which 149 have tested negative. Results for 86 cases are yet to be received.
Indian among 100 patients
An Indian is among the nearly 100 COVID-19 positive patients undergoing treatment in Sri Lanka, The Hindu has learnt. Three other patients, who are Sri Lankan nationals, also tested positive on their return from India earlier this month, officials said.