News Flash – 16 March 2020

National News



Covid-19 Cases to be Discharged only after 2 Negative Tests in 24 Hours: Government

A girl wears a mask in Karachi. Covid-19 cases in Pakistan spiked by 20 on Sunday, to 53 in all Global Interest in Jaipur ‘Model’.



New Delhi: The government has issued a discharge policy for Covid-19 cases under which a positive case shall be managed as per protocol and discharged after only two samples test negative within 24 hours and there’s evidence of chest radiographic clearance and viral clearance in respiratory samples. Cases of suspected coronavirus, who test negative in the first instance, can be discharged on doctor’s advice but will be monitored for 14 days after their last contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case, the guidelines said. The policy was announced even as coronavirus cases in the country rose to 115, according to reports from states. The health ministry confirmed 107 cases, a rise of 23 since its last update on Saturday. While no new death was reported, patients cured of the disease also stayed unchanged at 10. Of the 107 confirmed cases, 95 are active cases. So far, India has reported two deaths related to Covid-19, both senior citizens with co-morbidities. “Contract tracing of these cases is being rigorously pursued. So far, this has led to identification of more than 4,000 contacts who have been put under surveillance,” the health ministry said. A patient in Buldhana, who died on Saturday and whose sample was taken, has tested negative, it said. On Sunday, health minister Harsh Vardhan reviewed actions taken by states and their preparedness to prevent, contain and manage cases.



4 Rescued as Fishing Boat Tilts off Arnala

Two brothers and their wives had set out to fish on Sunday morning.



Mumbai: A family of four on a fishing boat was rescued by a police patrol boat after their boat titled mid-sea at Arnala in Virar (west) on Sunday morning. Two brothers, Rajesh (34) and Paresh Vaity (38), had set out to fish at the periphery of the sea along with their wives, Nisha (25) and Vandana Vaity (28). Three Palghar district policemen were patrolling at sea around 8am, moving towards Arnala fort. They heard screams coming from a fishing boat, and saw ‘Sai Ichha’ partially tilted in the water, after being lashed by waves. The two women were brought onto the police boat first. With the help of Rajesh and Paresh, the policemen pulled the fishing boat to the shore using a rope. The five of them managed to empty the boat of the water that had seeped into it. The women, who were in shock, were treated at a local hospital. The four reside in the Arnala fort area. Another sinking boat headed to Mandwa was rescued on Saturday, and a coastal police patrol boat rescued 88 people, including 20 children. The ferry, that had left Gateway of India in the morning, began to sink 1km from the Mandwa jetty around 10.15am.



Malls, Cinemas, Clubs Shut in NCR as UP & Haryana Tighten Curbs




New Delhi: The war against coronavirus intensified in India on Sunday with more states ordering closure of educational institutions, and others imposing a virtual lockdown by extending restrictions to other public places like cinema halls, malls, gyms and swimming pools. The most populous state in the country, Uttar Pradesh, directed indefinite closure of all multiplexes, cinemas, clubs and gymnasiums in 10 districts, including state capital Lucknow, and Noida and Ghaziabad in NCR. The Yogi Adityanath government which had on Friday shut down schools, colleges and universities across the state till March 22 said in an official statement on Sunday that strong steps were needed to check the progression of the outbreak in UP from category two to category three. Malls, however, will remain open, clarified a government spokesperson late Sunday evening. Till Sunday, UP had reported 13 positive cases, including eight in Agra, two each in Ghaziabad and Lucknow, and one in Noida. Besides Lucknow and districts in the NCR, other districts brought under the virtual lockdown are Maharajganj, Sidhartnagar, Balrampur, Sravasti, Pilibhit, Gorakhpur and Lakhimpur Kheri all along the Indo-Nepal border. Haryana on Sunday issued a fresh advisory barring the assembly of more than 200 people at any place, while directing all cinemas and malls in the state to be closed till March 31. In addition, the state has also closed all government and private schools till March 31.



In Gujarat, all schools, colleges, malls, multiplexes and swimming pools were ordered shut till March 29 by the state government, which has also directed municipalities, nagar palikas and gram panchayats to impose a fine of Rs 500 for spitting in public. Assam, too, ordered closure of all educational institutions, cinema halls, swimming pools and gyms till March 29. However, all ongoing exams will continue as per the earlier schedule. Following in the footsteps of the Supreme Court and the Delhi high court, Gauhati HC restricted its functioning as well as that of its benches in Kohima, Aizawl and Itanagar to “urgent matters only”. Assam, however, has not banned entry of foreigners. Tamil Nadu and Puducherry also joined other states in imposing restrictions by declaring holidays till March 31 for students till class V. TN also shut down cinema halls and malls in districts bordering Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra. In Mumbai, police invoked Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code till March 31 to prohibit tour operators from conducting any kind of group tours to foreign or domestic destinations. The curbs imposed by various states on Sunday come a day after similar measures were taken by state governments in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Punjab, Telangana, Himachal Pradesh and Goa.



Techie Abducted for 3.5 Hours, Robbed of Rs.4.4k at Knifepoint



Bengaluru: A software engineer was allegedly abducted in a minibus for more than three and a half hours and made to withdraw Rs 4,400 from an ATM. The miscreants also stole his cellphone before he managed to give them the slip in south Bengaluru on Friday night. The two abductors have been arrested. Satish N, 37, a resident of Banashankari II Stage and employee of Dell International Services, Whitefield, usually parks his scooter near Devegowda Petrol Bunk, from where he boards an office cab to go to work. On Friday too, he did the same. After returning from work, Satish met his friend Mahesh near the petrol bunk at 9pm. The duo left for a friend’s place near Katriguppe for dinner. Around 12.20am, they returned and found Satish’s scooter key missing. The duo began walking towards Katriguppe signal to reach Devegowda Petrol Bunk when a minibus stopped and its driver offered them a lift. The duo boarded the vehicle. When the truck reached the petrol bunk, Mahesh alighted and walked towards an ATM to withdraw money while Satish remained in the bus and was chatting with the driver and another person in the vehicle.



However, the bus began moving and the duo threatened to kill Satish at knifepoint. They drove towards Sarakki signal and later towards Talaghattapura on Kanakapura Main Road. They took him to two ATM kiosks to withdraw money from his account, but both didn’t have cash. The irked abductors began talking about killing Satish. When Satish pleaded for his life saying he has a child, the accused took him to an ATM kiosk in Khodays Factory and got him to withdraw Rs 4,400. They also sent an SMS to his wife, asking her for money. After about three and a half hours, the minibus reached Devegowda Petrol Bunk and stopped for a while. The accused were discussing where to abandon Satish when he managed to escape from the vehicle. Realising Satish had fled, the abductors sped away. Though the accused claimed he was abducted and assaulted, police registered a case under IPC section 394 (voluntarily hurting while committing robbery). Based on the vehicle’s registration number, police arrested Deepak, 25, a murder accused, and Prashanth, 29.



Virus Alert: T and AP Enter Lockdown Mode


Hyderabad: Amid the coronavirus outbreak, IT companies in the city have started giving their employees an option to work from home and started screening their temperature and as a precautionary measure to keep workplaces safe. Companies are also implementing measures to maintain high levels of hygiene at the workplaces by making hand sanitizers available for every employee and are creating awareness by putting up posters and distributing booklets on symptoms of Covid-19. Bharani Kumar Aroll, vice chairman, Society for Cyberabad Security Council (SCSC) said, “Industry bodies like Hyderabad Software Exporters’ Association (HYSEA), Cyberabad Security Council, NASSCOM have all come together on one platform and are trying to work with the nodal officers by getting regular health bulletins. Depending on that, we are taking measures and keeping the communication channel open with all the companies”.



“We are also trying to contain the panic. People working from home may happen soon and it doesn’t really impact the overall business as such. Anybody who has high temperature or any of the symptoms of Covid-19 are being educated not to come to the office and to keep themselves them isolated for a few days. We have also distributed booklets that talks about the whole process,” he said. Meanwhile, a few companies such as Google Hyderabad have started screening the temperature of its employees. “They have started checking the temperature of all the employees at the entrances of the office using a device. We also have an option to work from home if needed,” an employee said. Speaking to TOI, Srikanth Srinivasan, Head Membership, NASSCOM said, “We have put out an advisory saying that the employees should exercise abundant caution. We have also enabled all necessary permissions for work from home, but are leaving the decision to the wisdom of the organization based on the situation”. “Some organisations have already been doing temperature checks and slowly others might start following,” he added.



2 with Covid-19 Symptoms Isolated in Coimbatore



Coimbatore: A 49-year-old man from Thailand and a 26-year-old local woman who had returned from Qatar suspected to be infected with Covid-19 have been admitted to the isolation ward of the Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital (CMCH). The man had arrived in Tamil Nadu last week to visit religious places along with a group from Thailand. After visiting some religious places in Chennai, they reached Erode in a car on Saturday. There, the man developed fever, cough and cold. So, people in his group brought him to the Coimbatore airport on Saturday with a plan to send him to Chennai and from there, to Thailand. The special medical team at the airport that checked the man, who is also diabetic, found that he had symptoms of Covid-19. He was taken to CMCH and admitted to the coronavirus isolation ward. Samples of his blood and sputum have been sent for testing. The woman, who hails from the city, had returned from Qatar on Saturday. She had approached CMCH for treatment on Sunday after developing fever and cold. The medical team collected samples from her for testing and admitted her to the hospital’s isolation ward. Public health department officials are sanitizing vehicles entering the state through the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border as a precautionary measure.



Over 450 Indians Evacuated from Covid-19-Hit Iran, Italy in 2 Flights

BACK HOME: Indians inside the Air India flight at Milan airport as they were being evacuated from Italy on Sunday.



New Delhi/Jaisalmer: Over 450 Indians, including students, stranded in coronavirus-hit Iran and Italy were brought back by two flights on Sunday and were quarantined at separate facilities, according to officials. A total of 218 Indians, mostly students, from Milan landed at around 9.45am at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) and were taken to an ITBP quarantine facility in south-west Delhi’s Chhawla area. More than 230 Indians brought back from Iran reached New Delhi at about 3.15am and were quarantined at the Indian Army Wellness Centre in Jaisalmer, the third batch to be evacuated from that country. They had arrived in Delhi on a Mahan Air flight from Tehran and were ferried by two Air India flights to Jaisalmer, IGI airport officials said. While external affairs minister S Jaishankar said that a total of 234 Indians have been evacuated from Iran, defence spokesperson Col Sombit Ghosh said, “236 persons have landed in Jaisalmer by two Air India flights this morning”. Jaishankar said the batch comprises 131 students and 103 pilgrims. “234 Indians stranded in Iran have arrived in India; including 131students and 103 pilgrims. Thank you Ambassador Dhamu Gaddam and @India_in_Iran team for your efforts. Thank Iranian authorities,” Jaishankar tweeted. The minister had told Rajya Sabha that the government was focusing on evacuating Indians stranded in Iran and Italy as these countries are facing an “extreme situation”.



International News



Europe Locks Itself, But Virus Still On Prowl, Italy’s 368 Deaths in a Day Exceeds China’s Highest Daily Toll of 254

For the second Sunday in a row, Pope Francis delivered his blessings from inside the Apostolic Library instead of from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. Meanwhile, the Vatican said on Sunday that its traditional services during the week before Easter, which usually draw tens of thousands of people, would not be open to the public next month, a step believed to be unprecedented in modern times.



Italy: The coronavirus continued its assault on Italy, the hardest hit country outside of China, with officials on Sunday reporting the number of deaths rose to 1,809 a 25% increase over the day before and the largest one-day uptick yet of any country. The 368 deaths Italy reported exceeds the highest single day number China reported at the height of its outbreak. China’s highest daily toll was on February 13, when the country reported 254 new deaths, according to the WHO. The staggering caseload in Italy topped 24,700, even as the entire nation has been locked down for a week. Germany will close its borders with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Spain and France announced drastic countrywide restrictions this weekend. The countries are the hardest hit after Italy. Spain’s 47 million inhabitants awoke to the first day of a nationwide quarantine as part of a 15-day state of emergency. Spain’s health ministry said the country has recorded 288 deaths, up from 136 on Saturday. The number of infections rose to 7,753 from 5,700, a 32% jump. One after another, countries continued to implement extraordinary measures. Austria banned gatherings of over five people and imposed steep fines for those who disobeyed a far-reaching curfew. Public parks, sporting fields and restaurants will close from Monday, and fines for violations are to 3,600 euros. The Netherlands announced a lockdown that will last until April 6, closing most schools and child care facilities. Restaurants and gyms will also be closed. In Lebanon, banks will close until March 29. South Africa declared a national state of disaster. Australia said those arriving in the nation would need to isolate themselves for 14 days, and foreign cruise ships would be banned for 30 days.

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