Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: Centre suspends two Delhi govt officers, issues show-cause notice to two others over 'dereliction of duty'

FP Staff

Coronavirus Outbreak LATEST Updates: The Centre has suspended two Delhi government officers, and has issued show cause notices to two others for dereliction of duty during the coronavirus outbreak, PTI reported.

PTI has quoted official sources as saying that an army doctor and a junior commissioned officer have tested positive for coronavirus.

The total number of coronavirus cases in the country icreased to 1,024 while the toll touched 27, said the health ministry.

Transportation of all goods, without distinction of essential and non-essential, have been allowed during lockdown, PTI quotes the Union home ministry as saying. The ministry also said that the supply of newspapers was allowed during the lockdown.

Seven more person have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Maharashtra, taking the total number of cases in the state to 203, PTI quotes the state health department as saying.

Seven new COVID-19 caseswere reported in Karnataka, taking the tally to 83. In Goa, chief minister Pramod Sawant said two more testeed positive for the disease, taking the total to five.

"Delhi government is providing lunch and dinner to more than 4 lakh people every day. We are putting in all the efforts to make sure that everyone gets food in the National Capital. There is no dearth of food and water," said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.>

Rajesh Tope, the Maharashtra health minister said that there were 196 cases of coronavirus reported in Maharashtra. The break up of cases is as follows: Mumbai and Thane Region - 107,Pune - 37,Nagpur -13, Ahmednagar -3, Ratnagiri -1, Aurangabad -1, Yavatmal - 3, Miraj - 25, Satara - 2,Sindhudurg - 1, Kolhapur - 1, Jalgaon - 1,Buldhana - 1.

 The migrant workers who have taken to the streets to reach their hometown will be placed in nearest shelter by the State/Union Territory government quarantine facilities after proper screening for a period of 14 days as per standard health protocol, Centre issued the directive to state governments and Union Territories.

During the 21-day period of nationwide lockdown, all the employers have to pay the wages of their employees without any deduction.

 "Till now there have been 979 COVID19 confirmed cases in the country, including 25 deaths. In the last 24 hours, 106 new positive cases and six deaths have been reported,"  said  Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health  and Family Welfare during a press briefing.

In a notice to all states, the Centre issued a directive asking authorities to enforce a strict lockdown as the novel coronavirus gripped the nation. It has also expressed concern over the exodus of migrant labourers occurring across state borders, asking the chief secretaries and DGPs to ensure effective sealing of borders.

"States were directed to ensure there is no movement of people across cities or on highways. Only movement of goods should be allowed. DMs and SPs should be made personally responsible for implementation of these directions which have been issued under the DM Act," read the statement.

The release further mentioned that that adequate arrangements for food and shelter of poor and needy people including migrant laborers be made at the place of their work.

Thirteen lakh employees of the Indian Railways will donate their one day's salary to PM-CARES emergency situation relief fund to fight COVID-19. A day's salary of all 13 employees is amounting Rs Rs 151 crore. In addition to that, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, MoS Suresh Angadi will also donate one month's salary to the fund to fight the pandemic.

A 40-year old coronavirus patient passed away in Mumbai, a day after being admitted following severe respiratory complications. The number of coronavirus-related deaths in Maharashtra have now gone up to seven.

SpiceJet said on Sunday that one of its pilots, who did not fly any international flight in March, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

"One of our colleagues, a first officer with SpiceJet, has tested positive for COVID-19. The test report came on 28 March. He did not operate any international flight in March 2020," the airline's spokesperson told PTI.

Social distancing doesn't mean stopping of social interaction, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging everyone to reconnect with friends. "We have to maintain social distance, not emotional and human distance," sais Modi, adding that people should refrain from victimizing those in quarantine.

In his Mann Ki Baat address on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi apologized to the poor for taking "tough" measures such as the 21-day nationwide shutdown in a bid to curb the fast-spreading coronavirus.

"I apologize for taking these harsh steps which have caused difficulties in your lives, especially the poor people. I know some of you would be angry with me also. But these tough measures were needed to win this battle," said Modi.

He further said that the battle against the virus cannot be won if people break the lockdown rules. "There are many breaking the lockdown rules, I request them not to, otherwise we cannot win this war. Health is wealth but when people break the rules of lockdown they are putting their health at risk."

Four health personnel, who were deployed at Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) for screening passengers who returned from foreign countries, tested positive for COVID-19 in Telangana.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs on Saturday said any contribution made to PM-CARES emergency situation relief fund shall qualify as CSR expenditure under the Companies Act 2013.

The press release further stated that contribution to any fund set up by the Centre for socio-economic development and relief qualifies as CSR fund.

A 39-year-old migrant labourer who set off on foot from Delhi to his hometown in Madhya Pradesh due to the 21-day nationwide lockdown collapsed after walking around 200 km, The Times of India reported on Saturday.

Like thousands of other migrant workers who have been left jobless with no transportation available to reach home, the victim had started walking to Morena in Madhya Pradesh, 300 km away, early on Thursday. He had two companions during the journey.

He reportedly began experiencing chest pain in Agra district and collapsed on the highway.

The total number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 918 on Saturday as the country recorded 194 new cases, the highest jump the country ever recorded in a day.

And even as the government ramped up efforts to implement the lockdown and enforce social distancing among citizens,  a stampede-like situation prevailed at the Delhi-Ghaziabad border as hundreds of migrant workers thronged the bus station to get seats on the limited number of buses the Uttar Pradesh administration operated to ferry them back home.

In fact, reports through out the day highlighted the distress of daily waged workers from across the country, who found themselves stuck in the midst of a curfew, and their livelihood destroyed.

Taking cognizance of the situation, the Centre also asked the state governments and Union Territory administrations to utilise Rs 29,000 crore in their respective State Disaster Response Funds (SDRF) for providing food and shelter to migrant workers.

Resources were also being mobilised from private medical establishments, and armed forces to extend relief to the needy.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a special contributory fund against the virus to gather financial resources, needed to deal with the pandemic.

Indian Railways manufactured a prototype of an isolation ward for treating coronavirus patients by converting non-air-conditioned train coaches into quarantine wards. The armed forces are keeping ready 28 service hospitals to provide treatment to COVID-19 patients apart from five hospitals that are carrying laboratory tests for the infection.

Cases rise past 900, 21 reported dead

According to the health ministry's data (last updated at 5.45 pm on Saturday), the total tally in India was 918, which included 819 active cases, 79 cured or discharged, 19 deaths and one migrated patient.

Deaths have so far been reported from Maharashtra (5), Gujarat (3), Karnataka (2), Madhya Pradesh (2) and one each from Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

However, later in the day, Telangana reported its first death, while one more person died in Delhi, PTI reported, which takes the nationwide tally to 21.

Maharashtra has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases so far at 180 (including three foreign nationals), followed by Kerala at 176, including eight foreign nationals, according to the ministry data.

In Telangana, the number of cases has gone up to 56, including 10 foreigners while Karnataka has reported 55 cases till now.

The number of cases in Rajasthan has climbed to 54, including two foreigners.

Uttar Pradesh has reported 55 cases, including a foreigner while in Gujarat, it has gone up to 45, including one foreign national.

In Tamil Nadu, 40 people, including six foreigners, have tested positive, while the number of positive cases in Delhi has gone up to 39, including a foreigner.

Punjab has reported 38 cases, while 33 COVID-19 cases have so far been detected in Haryana, including 14 foreigners.

Madhya Pradesh has recorded 30 cases, Jammu and Kashmir 20, West Bengal 15, Andhra Pradesh 14 and Ladakh has reported 13 COVID-19 cases.

Bihar has nine cases, Chandigarh eight and Chhattisgarh has reported six cases so far.

Uttarakhand has five cases, including a foreigner. Himachal Pradesh and Odisha have reported three cases each. Six cases have been reported from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Goa has reported three coronavirus cases.

Puducherry, Mizoram, and Manipur have reported one case each.

 

Meanwhile, 13 people tested positive for coronavirus in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, taking the total number of cases in the state to 33. Of these, 24 cases have been reported from Valley while nine are from the Jammu region.

This is the highest number of positive cases reported in Jammu and Kashmir on a single day.

No community transmission yet, maintains health ministry

Even as the number of confirmed cases crossed 900 on Saturday, health officials rejected the suggestions that there may be a possibility of community transmission.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that the rise in cases is not significant to indicate that the virus is spreading rapidly.

"Till the time we see a significant number of cases to indicate community transmission, let us not over-interpret things," said Raman R Gangakhedkar, head of the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at ICMR.

Raman has been maintaining that there is "no solid evidence" of community transmission so far.

At a press briefing on the current coronavirus situation in India, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Lav Agarwal said the government is working with states on health infrastructure preparedness and the focus is having dedicated COVID-19 hospitals and blocks in every states and arrangements are being made to ramp up isolation and ICU beds and other required logistics.

Seventeen states have so far started work on this, he said, adding doctors and nurses are being provided online training from AIIMS, New Delhi on the management of COVID-19 patients.

A 24x7 national teleconsultation Centre at AIIMS has also been launched through which doctors in other hospitals and medical colleges will be provided clinical guidance.

Officials said 111 government laboratories are currently functional across the country and with the private sector being roped in, it has been increased.

"As of now, we are utilising only 30 percent of our capacity. More than 5 lakh probes that were imported from the USA have arrived, which means we can test an additional 5 lakh people. More so, labs still have reagents to test more than one lakh patients," Gangakhedkar said.

States were also ramping up facilities and ordering more equipment especially ventilators. Government, government-aided and private medical colleges have been asked to reserve beds in all districts.

Adequate stocks of masks and personal protective equipment were being maintained, officials said.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said aircraft are crisscrossing the Indian airspace to ensure that the COVID-19 testing kits of the ICMR reach their destinations on time. The Indian Navy too deployed its aircraft to help the Goa government transport 60 samples to the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) for testing, an official said on Saturday.

Private hospitals like Apollo and Max were forming teams and dedicated wards to deal with any possible surge in cases.

Hundreds of migrant workers scramble for few buses

However, the scene was not so reassuring in the National Capital Region as hundreds of migrant workers from Delhi, Haryana and even Punjab reached Anand Vihar, Ghazipur and Ghaziabad's Lal Kuan area after taking arduous treks of many kilometres on foot to take buses to their respective native places.

The people, in hordes, far outnumbered the seats on the buses, resulting in many of them travelling on rooftops after every inch inside was crammed with passengers and their luggage.

Social distancing norms seemed to have been discarded as they squeezed into the buses. Some wore face masks but most had handkerchiefs tied over their nose and mouths to protect them from the infection.

The imposition of a nationwide coronavirus lockdown has left migrant workers with no means to earn a living, forcing them to undertake long journeys on foot to their far-flung homes in the absence of any means of transport.

Delhi, as well as industrial towns in the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab, employ thousands of workers from states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal.

The Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) is plying 200 special buses to provide transport facilities to people stuck at various places in the border areas with Delhi.

"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 districts of Delhi. The buses have started reaching Noida and Ghaziabad. Around 200 buses will depart every 2 hours from 8 am onwards," read a letter written by the Managing Director (MD) UPSRTC, Raj Shekhar, to the administration.

The letter stated that the task of ferrying passengers to their destinations in UP will continue till 29 March.

Modi announces PM-CARES Fund for COVID-19

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the creation of the "Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund" where people can contribute and help in the government's fight against coronavirus.

Asserting that the fund will go a long way in creating a healthier India, Modi on Twitter said, "people from all walks of life expressed their desire to donate to India's war against COVID-19" and has been constituted respecting that spirit.

"It is my appeal to my fellow Indians, kindly contribute to the PM-CARES Fund. This Fund will also cater to similar distressing situations, if they occur in the times ahead," he said.

A statement posted on his official website said while the prime minister is the chairman of the new public charitable trust, its members include Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman.

The Union Health Ministry on Saturday also said 22.12 lakh public healthcare providers, including community health workers, will get Rs 50 lakh insurance cover under a national scheme for them.

They will be covered under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19, which was announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on 26 March.

With inputs from agencies

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