News Flash – 20 March 2020

National News



Virus Effect: Many city Markets & Shops in Lockdown Mode


Mumbai: Markets in parts of Dadar and Ghatkopar will remain shut at least till Sunday in a bid to prevent overcrowding in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Traders and shop associations from these localities voluntarily came forward to pull down shutters on Thursday, even as the BMC directed shops along arterial roads such as Linking Road, Bhulabhai Desai Road and Walkeshwar to remain shut on alternate days and to all on Sundays. Shops in Thane, Navi Mumbai, Vasai-Virar, Ulhasnagar and Kalyan-Dombivli will also remain shut. CM Uddhav Thackeray also appointed additional chief secretary Rajeev Jalota and principal secretary Bhushan Gagrani to lead a special control room in Mantralaya. Meanwhile, BMC and police searched offices and said they did not find any flouting of the 50% workforce diktat.



Briton Dies, UK Author Critical After Blaze in Bandstand Apartment

Sidra Jafri (R) was renting the 3BHK flat at Sea Springs.



Mumbai: A 20-year-old British national died and an awakening course facilitator, Sidra Jafri (38), suffered 90% burns after a fire broke out in their rented seaside apartment in Sea Springs building at Bandra Bandstand on Thursday morning. Jafri, who has authored ‘The Awakening: 9 Principles for Finding the Courage to Change Your Life’ is in a critical condition. The police said the deceased, Evana Morrece, an orphan, was assisting Jafri—a Pakistan-born British national in providing online awakening course training and canvas painting from the apartment in Sea Springs, which is near actor’s Shah Rukh Khan’s bungalow Mannat. Another British national living with the victims was in a flat nearby when the fire broke out on the top floor of the ground plus-six-storey building around 7.30am. Firemen suspect that the fire started in the living room and spread to other rooms of the 3-BHK apartment owing to the canvas paint, which is inflammable, and though the electric wiring. The security guards noticed the fire and alerted other residents and fire brigade. All residents came out safely. Firemen broke the main door and found an unconscious Jafri near the door and Evana in the hall near the painting area. The duo was taken to a nearby BMC hospital where Evana was declared dead. Firemen brought the flames under control after two hours. Bandra police registered an accidental death report and ruled out the possibility of any foul play. “We have the victims’ passport details and are sending their information to the British embassy to get more details about them. We are told that the deceased was an orphan,” said senior police inspector Vijayalaxmi Hiremath. Three bungalows share the boundary with Sea Springs building with separate entrance. The Sea Springs series of old bungalows is home to actors Rekha, Honey Irani and Farhan Akhtar.



17 with Stamps Forced Off Trains Starting from City


Mumbai: For the second consecutive day, as many as 17 persons with ‘home quarantine’ stamps on their hands were forced off three long-distance trains from the city, prompting home minister Anil Deshmukh to warn of action under the epidemic law invoked in the state. The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, empowers the state to take extraordinary steps to arrest an outbreak and it can be invoked against those violating the home quarantine instructions. Under the Act, violation of official orders can result in six months in jail and a fine of Rs 1,000 or both. “There have been complaints of people who are under mandatory quarantine period but violating the norms and going out in public. I have asked the police to initiate action against them under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897,” Deshmukh said on Thursday. Amid panic and a desperate attempt to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus Covid-19, the railways has asked its staff to be vigilant and ensure ‘home quarantined’ individuals, stamped on their hands, don’t take trains. A woman with a stamp was spotted and not allowed to board the Avantika Express from Mumbai Central. A ticket collector onboard Saurashtra Express spotted six more ‘stamped’ persons travelling on Thursday and alerted the Borivli station master. “They boarded from Mumbai Central for Vadodara and were travelling in two different AC coaches,” said the WR spokesperson. The six had returned from Singapore and were stamped for compulsory home quarantine at the airport. At Borivli, the station master and a doctor asked them not to travel further, and handed them over to the district medical officer. Later, they took a cab and went on to Vadodara.



A government resolution on Thursday clarified that if a group of passengers who need to self-isolate is travelling together, the local authorities should arrange for private vehicles like cabs or minibus and keep the details of the vehicle and driver. Once the trip is completed, the vehicle should be sanitised and the driver checked. “They (quarantine-advised individuals) are not supposed to use mass transport like a train. They can either hire a private car or if they cannot afford that, they can stay at our quarantine facility at Seven Hills,” said municipal commissioner Praveen Pardeshi. In the second incident on Thursday, six more passengers with home quarantine stamps were de-boarded from the Rajdhani at Surat after passengers alerted railway officials onboard. Three were students who had returned from France and were going to Himachal Pradesh, while two women and a senior citizen belonged to a family that had returned from Dubai. Official sources said they were taken to a quarantine facility set up by the civic body at Samras hostel of Veer Narmad South Gujarat University. In the final incident, five ‘stamped’ passengers who had returned from Thailand were taken off Kutch Express at Palghar. They took a taxi to Vapi in Gujarat, where they will make alternative arrangements to Bhuj. These incidents came a day after four Germany-returned passengers with ‘home quarantine’ stamps on their hands were forced to de-board from Garib Rath Express at Palghar station after co-passengers raised an alarm. According to protocol, arriving flyers are screened for symptoms of coronavirus and those without any signs are asked to stay at home for 14 days. The system seems to be faltering as many from nearby or neighbouring cities have been found using mass transport like railways increasing the risk of spreading the contagion.



Mind the Gap: CISF Personnel at IGI Sensitised on Frisking Norms

DISTANCE MATTERS: CISF personnel have been sensitised to use minimum touch while wearing masks and gloves during screening.



New Delhi: With the novel coronavirus posing a big risk to the country and to those given the task of curbing the spread, Rajesh Ranjan, director-general of the Central Industrial Security Force, visited Indira Gandhi International Airport on Thursday to see how his men were coping with the situation. Mindful of the threats posed to them, Ranjan directed the CISF personnel to maintain the recommended gap when frisking passengers without compromising security procedures and to regularly sanitise all equipment used in the process. CISF has been equipped with infrared thermometers to check passengers as well as its own staff. Full-body protective suits have also been provided, which the CISF personnel will mandatorily use if they have to manage infected people. An adequate number of officers and personnel have been posted in the arrival section and at the specially created “Triage Area”, where Airport Health Organisation (APHO) medical teams check passengers arriving from coronavirus-affected countries. This deployment is beyond the mandated duty of CISF to extend help to the arriving passengers and officials for the smooth implementation of compulsory medical tests. CISF personnel are also assisting in helping ease the tension of those flying in from Covid-19-affected countries.



The CISF personnel deployed at 63 Indian airports have been sensitised to use minimum touch while wearing masks and surgical gloves during the preembarkation screening. They have also been advised to maintain minimum proximity to passenger while ensuring security procedures are not neglected. Personnel of the CISF Intelligence wing posted at the airports for behaviour detection have also been instructed to look out for potentially infected/sick passengers and alert the security personnel and health officials. Apart from this, the scheduled International arrival section at Terminal 3 also requires special handling for streamlined triage and quarantine determination. This is being handled from the isolation bay created in a makeshift, but operationally comprehensive, manner. The airport sector of CISF has procured infrared thermometers and they are being used at the airports for two purposes: to check CISF personnel for fever when they report for shift duty and to use at the security hold area for checking the body temperature of any departing passenger showing symptoms of fever, cough, etc., and directing him to the APHO authorities at the airport for further necessary action. These arrangements have been made not only in Delhi but also at the international airports in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Lucknow and other places. Detail instructions have been issued through circulars & guidelines on standard operating procedures to assist CISF personnel deal with the crisis situation.



Romanian Held for ATM Card Cloning



New Delhi: A Romanian has been arrested for allegedly duping people by installing skimming devices and cameras at unguarded ATMs in south Delhi areas. His act was exposed after an advocate from Greater Kailash-I informed police about the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs 40,000 from his debit card. The accused has been identified as Claudiu Cosmin (29). According to police, Cosmin and his associate Danial came to India in February 2019. They would install skimming devices and cameras to steal the card and PIN details at several unguarded ATM kiosks in south Delhi areas. They stole data of at least 50 people. “The accused managed to withdraw about Rs 15 lakh from the cards which were cloned from Greater Kailash, Malviya Nagar, CR Park, Vasant Kunj and other areas,” said Atul Kumar Thakur, deputy commissioner of police, South. Eight cloned cards, a laptop, a mobile phone, masks and other devices were recovered. Danial is yet to be arrested.



Kodagu Records 1st +Ve Case, Village Cordoned Off

SHUT OUT: Police blocked roads connecting Kondangeri village after a man was confirmed Covid-19 positive.



Madikeri: Deputy commissioner C Annies Kanmani Joy imposed Section 144 (prohibit the assembly of four or more people and restricting movement) across Kodagu district after a 35-year-old man tested positive for Covid-19, the first from the district. The area in the vicinity of the affected person’s home in Kondangeri village, about 21km from Madikeri, was declared a 500m containment zone. There are 75 families about 300 people living in the vicinity. The district administration also asked all commercial establishments, except those dealing with essential goods and services, to close. Authorities say the 35-yearold man arrived at Kempegowda International Airport from Dubai on March 15 at 4.30pm. In Bengaluru, he boarded a KSRTC bus to Murnad via Madikeri which departed at 11.33pm. From Murnad bus stand, he took an auto to his home in Kuthimotte village. He stayed in the village on March 16 and was in isolation from March 17. He tested positive on Thursday. “He is stable and under treatment,” said Joy. “He was checked at Bengaluru airport, but showed no symptoms. He was advised home quarantine. We are tracing his movements over the past few days”. As soon as it was confirmed the man was infected with Covid-19, the administration swung into action. Senior officials of the health department rushed to the village and the 75 families in were kept under surveillance. The administration has ramped up the number of beds in the isolation ward, to possibly accommodate more suspected cases.



The auto driver who ferried the patient from Murnad to his residence has also been quarantined after he complained of cold, cough and fever. His samples have been sent to Mysuru for testing. Police and health department authorities have blocked all access to Kondangeri area from both Madikeri and Virajpet taluks as a prevention measure. The curbs will be in place for 14 days. Food and other essential items will be supplied to the families as shops will stay closed. Authorities said 180 people are currently in home quarantine, including five foreigners in resorts. Following the positive test, people in the area were scared and decided to stay indoors. KG Lokesh, local gram panchayat member, said many from the village work in the Middle East and travel frequently. He said the patient met several people from the village prior to being admitted in hospital. Contact tracing, Meanwhile, Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) on Thursday issued a plea asking all those who travelled on the Rajahamsa bus (KA19F3170) along with the patient to report to the nearest hospital. The bus left Mysuru Road satellite bus terminus at 11:35pm. “A total 38 passengers including 33 unreserved passengers travelled on the bus. All five reserved passengers in that bus were informed over phone to report immediately to the hospital for further checkup. We also communicated through various social media sites” said a KSRTC release. “The crew members and their families were taken for immediate medical checkup at district hospital,” it said.



Sudden Rainfall Brings Down Temperature in City


Hyderabad: The city witnessed its first summer rain on Wednesday with many areas recording up to 45mm of rainfall in just two hours. Timulgherry received the highest rainfall of 44.8mm followed by 34.8mm in West Marredpally, 28.3mm in Nacharam and Kapra, among others. Hailstorm also occurred at many places such as Uppal, Tarnaka, Karkhana, Bowenpally, Dilsukhnagar, Diamond point in Secunderabad, among other areas. The Indian Meteorological Department, Hyderabad, attributed the unseasonal thunderstorm activity to a confluence zone over Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and its neighbouring areas. An anticyclone is persisting over the west-central Bay of Bengal that is feeding moisture over the region. The sudden showers also led to a drop in mercury levels as the temperature dropped below 30°Celsius in the evening. Meteorologists predict that the thunderstorm activity will continue even during the weekend, after which a dry spell will follow throughout the week clearing way for the onset of summer by April first week. Sudden rains also led to water logging near Lake View guest house in Somajiguda. Heavy wind led to fallen trees at Road No. 2 in Film Nagar, near Shyamlal nala in Begumpet, among other places. A massive hoarding installed atop a building on SP Road towards Begumpet also collapsed.



ATM Cash Theft Case: Culprit Arrested, Rs.90 Lakhs Recovered

The Task Force team displays the seized cash to the media on Thursday.



Hyderabad: Meticulous planning and a bit of luck helped a culprit flee with Rs.92 lakh cash and a vehicle of an ATM cash replenishment firm. However, his luck ran out with police’s equally meticulous job scanning footage of 500 CCTVs in 36 hours and arresting him from his house at Nagole on Tuesday. Task Force police arrested D Prakash, the driver of the vehicle, and recovered Rs.90 lakh stolen cash from his possession. Prakash joined as a driver with Five Star Facility Solutions (India) Pvt Ltd in Kavadiguda in August 2019. On behalf of Five Star Facility Solutions, he worked for SIPL Company located at Diamond Point, Bowenpally, and, through them, he also worked as van driver for CMS Info Systems Limited. “Prakash planned to steal cash transported from the bank while working as a driver. He waited for an opportunity and on March 16, he went to CMS Company’s vehicle parking place at Kavadiguda wearing a cap and covering his face with a handkerchief. Introducing himself as Rakesh, an employee of Five Star Security Service, the accused took the keys of a Bolero vehicle from the security guard. He then went to CMS office at Lower Tank Bund and contacted coordinator Anil Kumar Yadav.



The coordinator assigned gunman Ravi Kumar along with two custodians T Ravi and V Jagannath Rao to transport cash from SBI’s Koti branch to SBI ATMs. The crew picked up Rs.1.6 crore cash from SBI Koti and stopped at Shiva Tea point in Chilkalguda to load Rs.68 lakh cash in an ATM. “Gunman and two custodians got out of the vehicle and went to load the cash. During this time, Prakash fled with the vehicle containing Rs.92 lakh cash after informing them that he would take a U-turn,” city police commissioner Anjani Kumar said. The CMS staff alerted their colleagues and they tracked the abandoned Bolero to Lalaguda flyover. Based on the complaint lodged by a CMS representative, Chilkalguda police registered a cheating case and 28 members of Task Force team scanned nearly 500 CCTVs in 36 hours. They saw the accused boarding an auto near Lalaguda flyover and conducted house-to-house check at Sai Nagar Colony in Nagole, where the accused disembarked with two bags. The city police chief presented mementos to auto driver Sk Hameed and seven residents of Sai Nagar Colony in Nagole, including two persons working for police for helping Task Force team in cracking the case.



345 Flyers from Gulf Sent into Quarantine, 145 in Home Isolation

Passengers wait to board a bus to the quarantine facility.



Kolkata: Three hundred and forty-five passengers who flew into the city on Thursday from various countries in West Asia, Europe and America via the Gulf were whisked away to a quarantine centre in New Town, leaving family members battling conflicting emotions of relief and distress. While they were glad to see their loved ones back, they were also anxious about when the ordeal would finally be over, and they would actually reach home. Not everyone, though, faced the compulsory quarantine that came into force on passengers who arrived in flights from Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi. Some 145 passengers were released from the airport after thermal tests, since their originating flight was prior to the 12GMT deadline, after which the compulsory quarantine rule came into force. From Friday, all passengers that arrive in flights originating from UAE and Qatar will be quarantined. Between 2am and 7.40am, four flights touched down from the Gulf, carrying between them a total of 490 passengers. Not in any particular order, they were an Air India flight (AI-918) from Abu Dhabi; a Qatar Airways flight (QR-8630) from Doha; an Emirates flight (EK-570) from Dubai; and an Etihad flight (EY-256) from Abu Dhabi. After the flyers underwent thermal scan, cleared immigration and reclaimed their baggage, they were escorted to buses waiting outside terminal gate 5A and 5B, with guard rails on either side to ensure no one could slip away. The passengers appeared to be resigned to their fate when informed about the compulsory quarantine, and went about the motions. Some accepted it with stoic silence, while a few grumbled about why they were being forced into a healthcare facility when they didn’t display any symptoms.



Every Shop & Market will Stay Open, No Need for Panic Buying, says Mamata Banerjee


Kolkata: With panic buying reported from across Kolkata, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday assured citizens that there was no dearth of commodities in the market even though the borders were sealed. “Shops and markets will remain open. There is no need for panic buying,” the chief minister said. “We are passing through a very critical phase. We must fight the disease. But there is nothing to panic. Do not pay heed to rumour. I will ask the SPs, inspectors-in-charge, police commissionerates to take steps against rumours and hoarding. There are rumours on shortage of essential commodities.” Banerjee said, “I came to know that trucks carrying perishable commodities from different states are waiting at Petrapole border. The commodities will rot if the trucks stand there indefinitely. They should return to the states from where they came. Beef up surveillance at entry points”. The CM’s intervention came after retail shops, department stores and other big stores in markets across the city reported a sharp rise in sales of staples, daily essentials and personal hygiene products, ever since the city’s first Covid-19 positive case was reported, with impending lockdown at the back of people’s minds. Only some particular items were flying off the shelves, said Gouranga Sardar, owner of Laxminarayan Store, Kidderpore Market.



“Rice, atta, edible oil, pulses, ready to eat food packets, personal hygiene products and liquor are being purchased in bulk by customers who are otherwise very careful in choosing items. Many were scared that the Prime Minister might announce and emergency during his speech,” said Gautam Rakshit, a manager of major retail chain in Barisha. Shankar Palit, a rice trader of Garia Market, said 70% of his 300-tonne rice stock emptied in just two days as people kept calling to place order. Palit generally offers free doorstep delivery of rice, if the quantity is of more than 20 kg. But for the last few days, he had to stop that as people queued up to buy rice. The shops TOI visited in south and central Kolkata said sales of some essential commodities were up by 70-90%. “We know how my nephews in the US suffered because of the lockdown there. They were stranded at home with no essentials. Moreover, there was panic over PM’s probable announcement of state of emergency. Who knows what will happen tomorrow?” said Mayank Agarwal, who was busy loading his packets full of essential commodities in his car at New Market. With panic buying continuing unabated, the agri-marketing and food and civil supplies department is keeping a strict vigil through the Kolkata Police enforcement branch. “We are keeping a close watch on the markets and supply system. So far, we have not found any irregularity. There is no reason to panic. If necessary, we may carry out raids to prevent any hoarding,” said state government officials.



Co-Flyers of Covid-19 Positive Teen Traced, All Advised Home Isolation

A poster put up at the condominium where the affect youth lives.



Kolkata: The state government has traced 17 passengers who had travelled with the Covid-19 positive teen in the Etihad Airways flight via Abu Dhabi to Kolkata on Sunday. It has also given Jharkhand the passenger details after it was learnt that some passengers were from the neighbouring state. All passengers have been advised an immediate medical check-up and home isolation. Meanwhile, two maids who worked for the patient’s family in their home have tested negative for coronavirus. According to sources, two immigration officers who had interacted with the teenager at the airport have been asked to go on home isolation. The 18-year-old Covid-19 patient’s mother, a senior bureaucrat, his father, a child specialist, and their two drivers have already been sent to the Rajarhat quarantine facility for a fortnight’s isolation. The two maids will also be sent for a 14-day isolation. Beliaghata ID Hospital sources said the teenager has been responding to treatment and his condition is stable. “He has only complained of mild cough. He has no other problem,” a source said.



The apartment owners’ association of the condominium, where the family lives, on Thursday submitted a list of nine people to the state health department who have recently returned from abroad and have made them stay in home isolation. “None of them still has any symptom but we have submitted their details to the state government,” said the secretary of the owners’ association. “No one is now owning up to have visited the patients’ apartment in the last few days or having met them. We have knowledge about few of the neighbours who had even spent some time inside their home but if they do not own up, we cannot force them,” said another member of the association. From Thursday, KMC has begun fever surveillance by visiting homes and complexes at boroughs 11and 12, comprising areas in south and east Kolkata, covering Patuli, Garia, EM Bypass, Naktala, Baghajatin, Jadavpur, Santoshpur and areas off EM Bypass. “We have been receiving a number of calls from these areas about people who have come from outside. Some of them are suffering from fever and other symptoms of coronavirus. Hence, we have been undertaking a survey and will submit the report to the state health department,” said a senior KMC official.



TN Records 3rd Covid-19 Case, Curbs on Big Shrines & Shops

TOUGH TIMES: A worker sprays disinfectant at St. Thomas Mount Shrine.



Chennai: Tamil Nadu has ordered a lockdown of sorts from Friday after a third person, a 21-year-old student who flew in to Chennai from Dublin in Ireland, tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday. He is at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. All large retail textile and jewellery showrooms with centralized air-conditioning have been ordered to stay shut from Friday till March 31. Special arrangements would be made for people to pick up jewellery they had already ordered. Vegetable and fruit markets, grocers, medical stores, and restaurants would remain open as usual. All major temples have also been closed to devotees, though priests would continue daily poojas. Churches and mosques have been asked to avoid large gatherings till March 31. The state government also cut interstate bus services and asked the railways to reduce services wherever possible. Passengers entering the state by road or rail would be screened at the borders. Screening would be stepped up at domestic airport terminals in the state too. Places in rural and urban areas where people gather in large numbers would be sprayed with disinfectant twice a day. Airports, railway, bus and metro rail stations would be disinfected thrice a day. The decisions followed a meeting chaired by chief minister K Palaniswami to discuss strategies to combat Covid-19. The CM appealed to people to cooperate with the government, asked the health department to set up special hospitals with isolation beds in all districts, and counsel passengers on home quarantine through videoconferencing. Awareness and preventive measure will have to be taken in IT parks, small, micro and large industries. Managements must ensure food served in these canteens are hygienic and allow staff to work from home, whenever possible, the CM said.



Health minister C Vijayabaskar said the third patient landed in Chennai on March 17. He was screened at the airport and sent on home quarantine as he did not show symptoms. On March 18, he came to hospital with symptoms of cough, fever and shortness of breath. The test was positive on Thursday. The state public health department has advised his parents and friends to quarantine themselves at home for the next 14 days and call a government hospital if they have symptoms such as cold, cough or breathlessness. “He has visited a friend and travelled with one to the hospital when he developed symptoms,” public health officials said. They were also checking if he had contact with more people. Meanwhile, Rajiv Gandhi Government General hospital dean Dr R Jayanthi said the condition of the two other covid-19 positive patients in the hospital is stable. Visitors, including relatives, are barred entry into the ward. The patients are being served food cooked in hospital kitchen. “Our doctors are talking to them to ensure they are spirited. They are allowed video chats with their friends and relatives,” she said. Tamil Nadu’s first Covid-19 patient tested negative after treatment in Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. The patient was discharged from hospital earlier this week but he is still on doctor’s watch, officials said. Meanwhile, the nasal and throat swabs collected from a 65-year-old patient admitted to a private hospital has been sent to the National Institute of Virology in Pune. The patient who travelled to New Zealand has fever, cough and shortness of breath.



Punjab Man is 4th Corona Victim, 54 New Cases Reported in 2 Days


Punjab: India recorded its fourth death due to Covid-19 on Thursday even as fresh cases surged in the country, with more than 50 recorded in the past two days. The country’s fourth coronavirus victim was a 70-year-old man from Punjab, who had returned from a two-week trip to Germany via Italy. As many as 27 new cases were reported on Thursday from 14 states, taking the total number of cases recorded in India so far to 198. There has been a spike in the number of new cases in the past two days, with 54 being reported from the states. The health ministry has confirmed 173 cases so far. The virus travelled to new territories with Gujarat and Chhattisgarh reporting their first cases on Thursday. The latest Covid-19 casualty, a native of Punjab’s Nawanshahr district, was a patient of hypertension and diabetes. He died on Wednesday morning. Test reports of his samples received on Thursday confirmed that he was suffering from Covid-19. Government officials said he had gone on a two-week trip to Germany via Italy and landed at Delhi on March 6 and left for Punjab the same day. After the man’s samples confirmed the virus, authorities completely blocked his village. “We have quarantined around 56 villagers, including 18 from his family, and relatives who came in contact with him,” Nawanshahr civil surgeon Dr Rajinder Bhatia said, adding that those quarantined include the doctor, nurse and ward body who attended on him. “He reported typical symptoms of heart attack with chest pain and died in around 25 minutes,” said Bhatia. The number of states reporting Covid-19 deaths has gone up to four now, the other three being Karnataka, Maharashtra and Delhi. With Gujarat reporting two confirmed cases and Chhattisgarh one, the number of states and Union territories affected by the dreaded virus rose from 18 to 20 on Thursday. The second case in Gujarat is of a 21-year-old girl who had landed in Mumbai from London on March 13 and reached Surat on March 14.



Hospitals Covid-19 Ready with 1K Isolation Beds

PREPARED FOR THE FIGHT: Private and state-run hospitals have all set up isolation wards to treat Covid-19 cases.



Chennai: Government and private hospitals in the state are well-prepared to handle possible Covid-19 cases public health authorities and health minister C Vijayabaskar said on Thursday. Isolation wards have been set up across state and hospitals have been stocked up with ample ventilators. Hospitals across the state put together have at least 1,120 beds set aside to treat Covid-19 patients. Of them, state-run facilities house approximately 600 beds, including ones for critical care. “As many as 100 beds are critical care beds. This was done considering that less than 10% may require ventilation,” said state health secretary Beela Rajesh. Private hospitals have set aside at least 400 beds for Covid-19 care following a government directive. Up to 10% of them are for emergency care. Responding to queries in the assembly on coronavirus spread, Vijayabaskar said government officials had held discussion with managements of private hospitals on Wednesday. “The government will depute a committee of dean and a microbiologist to review isolation wards in private hospitals to see if they meet specifications. We’re specific that the wards should have three-tier security,” the minister said.



There are about 1,900 ventilators available in government hospitals across the state, 400 of which were recently added. The Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation, which is incharge of procuring and maintaining equipment for government hospitals, has added some 100 more ventilators exclusively for Covid-19 infected patients in critical care. Corporation managing director P Umanath said the state can divert ventilators for general use to Covid-19 isolation wards if required. Ventilators are generally sourced from China, Germany, Spain, Japan and the USA. It may not be possible for the government or private hospitals to import new ones due to border lockdowns, sources said. But they can use locally manufactured ones, which doctors said were of decent quality, if need arises. Vijayabaskar said cashless facility was available to cover treatment costs and that individuals being treated at private hospitals can avail concessions under the CM’s comprehensive health insurance scheme. He dismissed allegations that private laboratories were charging up to Rs 5,000 for running Covid-19 tests and said the government would recommend well-equipped labs for approval from the Indian Council for Medical Research for Covid-19 testing.



International News



ITALY OVERTAKES CHINA’S VIRUS TOLL Reports 3,405 Deaths, 150 More Than China’s, Despite Fewer Infections

An Israeli couple in Ein Hemed dance at their wedding performed at a venue offering free, small-scale ceremonies for those whose planned events got cancelled due to virus restrictions imposed by the government.



Rome: The death toll in Italy from the coronavirus overtook China’s on Thursday in a stark illustration of how the crisis has pivoted toward the West. Italy, with a population of 60 million, recorded at least 3,405 deaths, or roughly 150 more than in China — a country with a population over 20 times larger. Italy tallied 902 deaths in the last two days alone: 475 on Wednesday and 427 on Thursday. The total number of cases rose to 41,035 from a previous 35,713, up nearly 15%, a faster rate of growth than seen over the last three days, the Civil Protection Agency said. Italy reached the bleak milestone the same day that Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus first emerged, recorded no new infections. The worldwide toll crept towards 10,000 as the total number of infections topped 220,000, including nearly 85,000 people who have recovered. A visiting Chinese Red Cross team criticised Italians’ failure to properly quarantine themselves and take the national lockdown seriously. The head of the delegation, Sun Shuopeng, said he was shocked to see so many people walking around, using public transportation and eating out. “Right now we need to stop all economic activity and we need to stop the mobility of people,” he said. “All people should be staying at home in quarantine”. Health authorities have cited a variety of reasons for Italy’s high toll, key among them its large population of elderly people. Italy has the world’s second-oldest population, and the vast majority of its dead 87% were over 70.



Spain has been the hardesthit European country after Italy, and in Madrid a four-star hotel began operating as a makeshift hospital for coronavirus patients. The Madrid Hotel Business Association said it has placed 40 hotels with room for 9,000 people at the service of the Madrid region. Spain on Thursday announced that virus deaths had jumped by nearly 30% over the past 24 hours to 803. The number of people who have contracted the disease has meanwhile grown by around 25% to 17,395. The British government, which was slow to react to the virus, has shifted gears and is now drawing up legislation giving itself new powers to detain people and restrict gatherings. The bill is expected to be approved by parliament next week. Meanwhile, the WHO warned that the virus is spreading quickly in Africa. “About 10 days ago we had about five countries” with the virus, said WHO’s Africa chief Matshidiso Moeti. Now 35 of Africa’s 54 countries have cases, with the total close to 650. It is an “extremely rapid evolution”, she said. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei planned to pardon 10,000 more prisoners to combat the virus. The country’s toll from coronavirus jumped to 1,284 on Thursday, with the total number of infections rising to 18,407. “Based on our information, every 10 minutes one person dies from the coronavirus and some 50 people become infected with the virus every hour in Iran,” Iran health ministry spokesman Kianush Jahanpur tweeted.

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