Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: The Delhi Police said that to prevent the spread of coronavirus, they appeal to the general public to "not assemble at any place for protest, dharna, rally, entertainment or any other purpose, whether in close space or outside" till 31 March.
"Any no objection certificate or permission in respect of such gatherings will not be issued. It is also decided that no license/permission will be issued for public entertainment activities," the said.
The Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday said that rumours of more than 250 Indians having tested positive for the coronavirus in Iran were not confirmed. The MEA also said thatthey are being "very well" looked after.
"The Indians who are in Iran are being very well looked after by our mission. The ambassador is giving a lot of attention to them. Every care is being taken by the Mission, in coordination and cooperation by the government of Iran," MEA Additional Secretary Dammu Ravi told reporters.
A World Health Organization official was quoted by Reuters as saying that two staff members have been confirmed to be infected with the novel coronavirus which has claimed more than 5,000 lives worldwide.
“The staff had left the office and then at home showed symptoms and were confirmed with COVID-19,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier told journalists, referring to the official name of the disease caused by the virus. “We do therefore have two confirmed cases.”
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, speaking to the media after a meeting with authorities over measures taken to curb the spread of coronavirus in the state after the first death was reported on Tuesday, said that public transport will not be shut in the state. He also said that government office will not be shut.
"Trains and buses are essential services so we are not stopping them as of now but if people don't listen to our advice and don't avoid unnecessary travel, then we will think about that too. Next 15-20 days are very crucial for us," he said.
Maharashtra, one of the worst-hit states by the spread of the novel coronavirus in India, on Tuesday reported two new cases of the flu-like disease that has claimed more than 5,000 lives worldwide.
The state government said that two people having travel history with the US tested positive in Mumbai and Pune, taking the total cases in the state to 41.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday said that the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India rose to 137, with Delhi reporting eight cases, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, and Odisha reporting one case each, Haryana reporting 15 cases, Karnataka reporting 11 cases, Kerala reporting 26 cases, Maharashtra reporting 39 cases, Telangana reporting five cases, union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh reporting three and six cases respectively, and Uttar Pradesh reporting 15 cases.
The Maharashtra cabinet on Tuesday decided to shut government offices for seven days due to the spread of coronavirus in the country, CNN-News18 reported.
The Central Railways has increased the price of platform tickets in the Mumbai, Pune, Solapur, and Bhusawal divisions from Rs 10 to Rs 50, the public relations officer (PRO) was quoted as saying by ANI on Tuesday. The move is with the aim to curb crowding on stations as authorities doubled down on efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus in the state.
Union Minister V Muraleedharan is in self quarantine after he attended a meeting in a medical institute in Trivandrum on 14 March. A doctor there who returned from Spain, tested positive for COVID 19 on 15 March.
The number of coronavirus cases touched 114 in the country on Monday after fresh cases were reported from several states, including Odisha. The Central government recommended implementing social distancing measures such as closing down of all educational institutions, gymnasiums, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres till 31 March.
The Centre also imposed fresh travel restrictions, prohibiting entry of passengers from the EU countries and the UK from 18 March and called for compulsory quarantine for a minimum of 14 days for passengers coming from or transiting through the UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait.
The Union health ministry said fresh coronavirus cases were also reported from Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Kerala.
Maharashtra tally rises to 39
A Maharashtra government official said six patients were detected for the novel coronavirus infection, taking the state tally to 39. The Union ministry did not immediately add the Maharashtra cases to its national count, covering 15 states and Union Territories. Kerala officials also maintained the total tally was 24 as against 23 given by the Union ministry. Late in the evening, Jammu and Kashmir and Karnataka reported one case each.
Thermal screening of passengers being conducted in the wake of deadly coronavirus at a railway station in Kochi. PTI
The tally of 114 includes 17 foreigners, said the health ministry. While two people died, 13 people were discharged after they recovered from the infection. With the four new patients, Odisha has a count of one, Ladakh four and Jammu and Kashmir three, according to the ministry.
Giving details of the Odisha case, an official in Bhubaneswar said a researcher who recently returned from Italy tested positive for the coronavirus. The 33-year-old patient, who reached Delhi from Italy on 6 March and travelled to Bhubaneswar by train on 12 March, is being treated at the Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar. The man consulted a doctor on 13 March, complaining of fever and headache, and was admitted to the hospital's isolation ward the next day.
The Karnataka health department said that a 32-year-old man, who returned from the US via London earlier this month, tested positive for coronavirus making it the eighth case in Karnataka.He was on home quarantine, and is now admitted to an isolation facility.
The number of cases in Jammu and Kashmir rose to three, with Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary Planning, Jammu and Kashmir saying that a patient with a travel history to Saudi Arabia tested positive, reported ANI.
"His condition is stable and he is not showing any other complications," the state government's chief spokesperson on coronavirus cases Subroto Bagchi told reporters. As he travelled by train from Delhi to Bhubaneswar, the state government has launched a "contact tracing exercise", Bagchi said. His family members have also been quarantined and kept under observation.
Among those who tested positive in Maharashtra was a 51-year-old woman from Yavatmal, one of 40 people who had returned from Dubai, an official said, adding she was the mother of an IT professional who tested positive for the infection in Pune earlier. The number of Covid-19 patients in Yavatmal now stands at three, he said. Another person who tested positive on Monday is a citizen of the Philippines currently residing in Navi Mumbai, the state government said.
Centre tightens travel restrictions
With the positive cases of COVID-19 showing an increase, the government after a meeting of a group of ministers (GoM) proposed a set of social distancing measures to be in force till 31 March, the health ministry officials told reporters. "Travel of passengers from member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and United Kingdom to India is prohibited with effect from 18 March, 2020," said Lav Aggarwal, the Joint Secretary in the ministry.
"No airline shall board a passenger from these nations to India with effect from 1200 GMT on 18 March, 2020. The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure," he said adding that both these instructions are temporary measures and shall be in force till 31 March, 2020 and will be reviewed subsequently.
On 11 March, India suspended all visas, except a few categories such as diplomatic and employment, till 15 April to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The GoM held their 7th meeting on Monday and after detailed deliberations social distancing measures as a preventive strategy has been proposed for implementation, Aggarwal said, adding that these interventions are proposed to be in force till 31 March. The key measures proposed include closure of all educational institutions — schools, colleges and universities — gyms, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres, he said. Students should be advised to stay at home and online education should be promoted, Aggarwal said.
"Non-essential travel should be avoided. Buses, trains and aeroplanes should maximise social distancing in public transport, besides ensuring proper disinfection of services," he said.
Later in the evening, Union culture minister Prahlad Patal said all ASI-protected monuments and central museums across the country will also be shut till 31 March, .
As many states virtually shut down to stem the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the contribution of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers in fighting the virus. He said there was a coordinated response to the outbreak, showing the strong spirit of the nation in such situations. In a series of tweets with the hashtag 'India Fights Corona', Modi said the encouragement from people highlighting the steps being taken to combat the virus is boosting the morale of all the "remarkable people" at the forefront of the fight.
States initiate social distancing measures
Authorities in Maharashtra, which has registered the highest number of positive cases in India, have decided to close some prominent tourist and religious attractions as a precautionary measure. The world-famous Ajanta and Ellora caves near Aurangabad, the popular Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai and the Tuljabhawani temple in Osmanabad district will remain closed in view of the coronavirus situation in the state, officials said. Entry restrictions to Mantralaya, the state secretariat in south Mumbai which sees thousands of visitors daily, will also be in force, Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said.
In Pune, where seven cases have been reported, the police invoked a Section of Maharashtra Police Act and imposed restrictions on tour operators to arrange trips within and outside India. In neighbouring Pimpri Chinchwad, which has nine coronavirus patients, similar restrictions were imposed on tour operators under sub-section 1 of Section 144 of CRPC. The trust of Shrimant Dagdu Sheth Halwai Ganapati temple decided to close its portals from 17 March till further notice. The Pune Retail Traders Association has decided to observe closure of the shops for three days.
Many thousands of students across the country were restricted to their homes and employees worked from home as administrations all over put into effect plans to contain the spread of the contagious disease with flu-like symptoms.
Taj Mahal which is one of the biggest tourist attractions has recorded a drop in tourist traffic due to spread of the novel coronavirus . PTI
Gyms, cinema halls, swimming pools and other places were closed in many states. Adding to its restrictions, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said no religious, social, cultural and political gathering of over 50 people would be allowed in Delhi till 31 March. Meanwhile, Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang said neither foreign nor domestic tourists will be allowed to enter into the state, and announced shutting down of educational institutes till 15 April .
Signalling its serious intent to contain the infection, police in Kochi registered a case against 79 people for organising a mass reception for a popular reality show contestant on his arrival at the Cochin International Airport despite restrictions on such gatherings in view of the coronavirus threat.
Meanwhile, both West Bengal and Jharkhand announced a Rs 200 crores fund in the respective states to tackle the spread of the virus. The West Bengal election commission also postponed the civic body polls "till further notice".
The Supreme Court, where lawyers, litigants and others were thermal screened, took suo motu cognisance of overcrowding and infrastructure of prisons across the country. A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and LN Rao issued a notice to the Director General, Prison, and chief secretary of all states and union territories seeking their response by 20 March on steps taken for prevention of COVID-19.
Efforts were also on to bring back Indians stranded abroad. An Air India flight with 53 Indians evacuated from coronavirus-hit Iran landed in New Delhi and the passengers were flown to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan where they have been quarantined at the Army Wellness Centre.
WHO advises countries to adopt comprehensive approach, step up testing
Iran is one of the worst-affected countries by the coronavirus outbreak with over 14,000 cases detected and over 700 people dead. The number of cases in Pakistan , too rose sharply on Monday, with 83 new cases reported.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus noted that more cases and death due to the diseases were reported in the rest of the world than in China. He also expressed concern over the spread of the disease to lower income countries and about the impact it could have among populations with high HIV prevalence or malnourished children. He also said social distancing measure like closing of schools, cancelling sports events and gatherings was not enough and urged all countries to adopt a "comprehensive approach".
"Once again, our key message is: test, test, test. This is a serious disease. Although the evidence we have suggests that those over 60 are at highest risk, young people, including children, have died," he said.
With inputs from agencies