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Coronavirus cases in India rise to 137, one more death on Tuesday

By PTI Updated: Mar 17, 2020 11:45 pm
Passengers wear masks to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic at the airport on Tuesday.

New Delhi/Mumbai, March 17 (PTI): India on Tuesday reported its third coronavirus fatality with a 63-year-old dying in Mumbai, Health Ministry officials said as the number of positive cases rose sharply to 137 and more parts of the country shut down to stem the spread of the infection.

The government, which on Monday banned the entry of passengers from EU countries, Turkey and the UK from March 18 till March 31, also closed its doors to those from Afghanistan, the Philippines and Malaysia with immediate effect, according to an additional travel advisory.

Unheard of till just a few days ago, ‘social distancing’ was the buzz-term as public spaces, including monuments such as the Taj Mahal, shut down and many thousands of people prepared to spend the next few days confined to home, working or studying online.

The Mumbai patient with a travel history to Dubai is the first Covid-19 death in Maharashtra, which has the most number of coronavirus cases at 39, officials said.

Earlier, a 76-year-old man from Kalaburagi in Karnataka with a travel history to Saudi Arabia and a 68-year-old woman in Delhi died after they tested positive for the infection that according to Johns Hopkins University has infected 1,82,000 people and claimed over 7,100 lives globally.

The Maharashtra patient, whose wife also tested positive and is stable, was in a private hospital for five days and subsequently referred to Mumbai’s Kasturba Hospital, officials said. He reportedly did not disclose his travel history when he was admitted to the private hospital.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the exact cause behind his death is being ascertained as he was also suffering from various ailments.

The 137 positive cases, 23 more since Monday night, have been reported from 15 states and union territories. The number includes 24 foreign nationals.

Among the new cases are two people from the suburb of Noida bordering the national capital. One recently returned from France and is already in isolation. The other has also been quarantined, Chief Medical Officer Anurag Bhargava said.

In Bengaluru, two more persons tested positive for COVID-19 late Monday night.

“We have got 2 more #COVID2019 cases in Karnataka taking the total number of confirmed cases to 10,” Karnataka Health and Family Welfare Minister B Sriramulu tweeted.

Both are admitted to a designated isolation hospital.

One is a 20-year-old woman who travelled from the UK and the other a 60-year-old “contact” of the 76-year-old man from Kalaburagi who became the country’s first coronavirus casualty last week, officials said.

The Union ministry did not immediately add the figures to its national count.

According to ministry data, 14 people have been discharged so far, including the three Kerala patients who were discharged last month following their recovery from the contagious infection with flu-like symptoms.

Kerala also has the highest number of Covid-19 patients after Maharashtra with 26 patients, including two foreigners.

Asking BJP MPs to spread awareness about the coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made it clear the Budget Session of Parliament will not be curtailed as lawmakers should be seen to be doing their work at a time such as this.

In his address at the BJP parliamentary party meeting, Modi heaped praise on doctors and other medical staff as well as airline crews and others involved in tackling the coronavirus crisis, saying they have worked positively and tirelessly, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told reporters.

Amid rising coronavirus cases, the government has said no community transmission of the virus has been observed and there have only been a few cases of local transmission so far.

With the WHO declaring Covid-19 a pandemic, a Health Ministry official said over 5,700 people who had come in contact with the positive cases have been identified through contact tracing and are under vigorous surveillance.

He said all essential facilities like community surveillance, quarantine, isolation wards, adequate personal protective equipment (PPEs), trained manpower, rapid response teams are being strengthened.

The Central Railway cancelled 23 trains citing preventive measures and also non-occupancy. And the DGCA instructed airlines to ensure that all aircraft are deep-cleaned and disinfected at least once in 24 hours.

GoAir announces the suspension of its international operations and offered leave without pay for its staff on a rotational basis amid the sharp decline in air travel.

The Central government also issued an order asking all ministries to install thermal scanners at government buildings and suspend the routine issue of visitors and temporary passes.

As consternation mounted, public events such as concerts and plays and even weddings were called off or pushed indefinitely. People queued up to stock up on essential provisions in the eventuality of a lockdown of their neighbourhoods.

Educational institutes, cinema halls as well as several gated communities and other residential neighbourhoods curtailed the number of visitors as did offices that asked many of their people to work from home.

“At midnight today we at first fiddle are shutting down all our restaurants till 31st March across the country and we will be back with a bang once the virus goes,” said Priyank Sukhija who owns restaurant franchises, including Flying Saucer, Lord of the Drinks and Tamasha, across several cities.

In Uttar Pradesh, the state government announced the closure of all educational institutions in the state till April 2.

Competitive and other examinations have been postponed till April 2 and tourist places in the city shut, a minister said.

West Bengal reports first positive case of coronavirus

An 18-year-old man, who recently returned from England, tested positive for novel coronavirus on Tuesday, making it the first confirmed case in West Bengal, a senior official of the state government said.

He started showing symptoms of Covid-19 since morning, following which he was admitted to the isolation ward of the Beliaghata ID hospital here, they said.

The man, who had gone to the UK for higher studies, had returned on Sunday.

“His swabs were collected and sent for examination. The reports revealed he contracted novel coronavirus,” the official said.

The man’s mother, who is a senior state government official, his father and their driver have been quarantined at a newly-set up facilty in Rajarhat area, he said.

“We are now trying to trace all the people who came in contact with him. We will also disinfect his vehicle,” the official added.

MLAs above 60 asked to get pneumonia vaccination

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, West Bengal Assembly speaker Biman Banerjee on Tuesday asked MLAs above the age of 60 years to get vaccination for pneumonia as a precautionary measure.

Banerjee made the appeal during the ongoing budget session of the West Bengal Assembly which was abruptly adjourned over the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“In the wake of corona virus pandemic, it is better to have precaution. So, I have asked all MLAs to get pneumonia vaccination,” Banerjee said.

A man, who recently returned from England, on Tuesday tested positive for the novel corona virus, making it the first case in the state, a health department official said.

Till Monday around 3.24 lakh people have been screened in Bengal and the state health department was keeping a close watch on 5,590 of them, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said on Monday.

Substandard sanitizer worth INR 27 lakh seized

Amid the coronavirus scare in the city, the police here have seized a stock of substandard sanitizer worth INR 27 lakh and arrested six persons.

As frequent cleaning of hands is advised to keep the coronavirus infection at bay, sanitizers are in great demand.

“Acting on atip-off, two people were held with a huge stock of substandard sanitizer from a flat in Market Yardarea on Sunday,” said a crime branch officer.

During the investigation, the role of four others came to light, and all of them were arrested under the relevant sections of the IPC and the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, he said.

While two of the accused manufactured the sanitizer which had no permission from the Food and Drug Authority, others were involved in distribution, he said.

The seized bottles bore the brand name ‘Savior’ and carried labels of ‘Made in Nepal’ and ‘Made in Taiwan’, the officer added.

Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad area has recorded 17 confirmed cases of coronavirus so far.

BMC hikes spitting fine from INR 200 to INR 1,000

In a bid to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak which spreads due to respiratory droplets, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation on Tuesday raised the fine for spitting five-fold from INR 200 to INR 1,000.

The decision, which covers spitting in any public place, premises and roads, was taken by BMC commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, a circular informed.

“Spitting in any public place, premises, road will attract a fine of INR 1000. Ward offices, sanitary staff, police are hereby directed to enforce this punishment strictly,” the circular stated.

As on Tuesday, there are 40 Covid-19 patients in the state.

By PTI Updated: Mar 17, 2020 11:45:00 pm