With as many as 386 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the last 24 hours, the Health Ministry on Wednesday said the spike was “not a national trend” and was primarily due to travel by those who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation. Addressing the daily press briefing, Joint Secretary in Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said till now there are 1,637 COVID-19 cases in the country out of which 386 new positive cases were reported in the last 24 hours. He, however, stressed that the rise in positive cases “is not a national trend”. “One of the main reasons for the rise in positive cases is the travel by members of Tablighi Jamat,” Agarwal said. All states which have reported positive cases of the disease have been notified and asked to carry out intensive drives of rigorous contact tracing and testing and also sending those with symptoms to quarantine facilities or hospitals, he said. Giving details about the necessary arrangements being made by the government to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, Agarwal informed reporters that the railways is preparing to set up 3.2 lakh isolation beds by modifying 20,000 train coaches.
Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ on Wednesday directed the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) to ensure that placements of students are not affected due to the situation arising out of the coronavirus pandemic. In a meeting with heads of 23 IITs through video conferencing, he directed that a task force be set up for the purpose. “A task force call for placements may be set up in institutes to liaise with various companies to ensure that adequate placement not below the levels of past years may take place in these institutes. Academic calendar of the institutes may be prepared so that students do not lose summer and winter internships,” Nishank told the IIT heads. “Mental health-related challenges of students during the lockdown period also need to be addressed by all the institutes and a helpline be established in this regard. There should be a task force set up by every institute which should include psychologists to handle mental health issues,” he added. The institutes are closed and exams suspended due to the nationwide lockdown in view of the coronavirus outbreak that has claimed 38 lives in the country till now.
Latest updates on COVID-19 from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and various steps being taken for prevention, containment and management of COVID-19 in the country.
As of now, 1637 confirmed cases and 38 deaths have been reported. During the last 24 hours, 376 new confirmed cases and 3 new deaths have been reported. 132 persons have been cured /discharged from the hospitals after recovery. .
Cabinet Secretary’s video-conference with Chief Secretaries/DGPs of the States.
- The States were sensitized about the intensive contact tracing of Tablighi Jamat participants as this has increased the risk of containment efforts of COVID-19. The States were asked to complete the contact tracing process on a war footing.
- It has been found that foreigners who had participated in the Tablighi Jamat had violated visa conditions. The States were asked to initiate action for violation of visa condition against the foreigners and the organizers of the event.
- The States were asked to implement the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana within the next week. This will involve large cash transfer to beneficiaries. It should be organized in a manner to ensure social distancing.
- It was noted that lockdown is being implemented effectively all over the country. The States were asked to ensure that intra-state movement of goods is allowed without any hindrance while maintaining social distance.
- The manufacturing of essential goods should be ensured. It should also be ensured that the supply chains of such goods are maintained.
74 flights for transporting medical cargo
Under Lifeline Udan initiative of Ministry of Civil Aviation, 74 flights have been operated till date for transporting medical cargo across the country. A total of 37.63 tonnes of cargo has been transported till date out of which more than 22 tonnes has been transported on 31st March 2020.
Supreme Court’s directions to media
The Supreme Court of India has directed the Media, including print, electronic and social media, to maintain a strong sense of responsibility and ensure that unverified news capable of causing panic is not disseminated.
The heads of three global agencies warned Wednesday of the risk of a worldwide “food shortage” if authorities fail to manage the ongoing coronavirus crisis properly. Many governments around the world have put their populations on lockdown causing severe slow-downs in international trade and food supply chains. Panic buying by people going into confinement has already demonstrated the fragility of supply chains as supermarket shelves emptied in many countries. “Uncertainty about food availability can spark a wave of export restrictions, creating a shortage on the global market,” said the joint text signed by Qu Dongyu, head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Roberto Azevedo, director of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). “In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdowns, every effort must be made to ensure that trade flows as freely as possible, specially to avoid food shortage(s)” from developing, they said in their statement. “When acting to protect the health and well-being of their citizens, countries should ensure that any trade-related measures do not disrupt the food supply chain,” they added. Over the longer term confinement orders and travel restrictions risk causing disruptions in agricultural production due to the unavailability of agricultural labour and the inability to get food to markets. “Such disruptions including hampering the movement of agricultural and food industry workers and extending border delays for food containers, result in the spoilage of perishables and increasing food waste,” said the three leaders.