Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: WHO warns against using 'untested drugs' to fight COVID-19; Gujarat, Puducherry announce lockdown

Coronavirus Outbreak LIVE Updates: Gujarat DGP Shivanand Jha said that from 12 am on Monday, the entire state will be under lockdown till 31 March. 'State borders have been sealed. Action will be taken against the people who will violate the lockdown,' he said.

FP Staff March 23, 2020 23:53:53 IST
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Coronavirus Outbreak Updates: WHO warns against using 'untested drugs' to fight COVID-19; Gujarat, Puducherry announce lockdown


21:39 (ist)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra rise to 97, say reports

According to the latest update, there are 97 coronavirus in Maharashtra, Mumbai Mirror reported. The report also gave a break down of the rise in cases in the last 24 hours, saying that out of 23 new cases, 17 were reported in the Mumbai-MMR region, one in Pune and Satara, and four in Sangli district.


Mar 23, 2020 - 23:51 (IST)

Coronavirus in UK Latest Updates

UK govt say citizens abroad can return now

UK's foreign secretary Dominic Raab on Monday said that all citizens abroad should return, CNN reported. In a statement, Raab "warned international travel is becoming highly limited with the further closure of air routes, land borders and domestic restrictions introduced daily," the report said.

“We are strongly urging UK travellers overseas to return home now where and while there are still commercial routes to do so. Around the world, more airlines are suspending flights and more airports are closing, some without any notice. Where commercial routes don’t exist, our staff are working round the clock to give advice and support to UK nationals. If you are on holiday abroad the time to come home is now while you still can," he said.

Mar 23, 2020 - 23:42 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Delhi Police says Yamuna Expressway shut

Yamuna Expressway has been closed and police barricading has been done on the route. Those passing through the barricading will be allowed only if they have a valid reason for their movement. It'll also remain open for emergency services, said DCP (Greater Noida) Rajesh Kr Singh.

Mar 23, 2020 - 23:40 (IST)

Coronavirus in Italy Latest Updates

Italy reports 601 new COVID-19 deaths in 24 hours

Italy has confirmed 601 COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours, CNN reported. This brings the total number of casualties to 6,077. The European country has crossed the number of casualties reported in China.

Italy is currently facing 63,927 cases of the novel coronavirus.

Mar 23, 2020 - 23:32 (IST)

Coronavirus in Brazil Latest Updates

Brazil to convert stadiums, arenas into field hospitals

Brazil will convert some stadiums, arenas, and convention centres into field hospitals to treat patients of coronavirus, CNN reported.

"In São Paulo, the city with the largest number of confirmed deaths and cases, the mayor’s office announced that 2,000 hospital beds would be added to the Pacaembu stadium and the Anhembi convention center in the next few weeks," the report said.

Mar 23, 2020 - 23:19 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Four new COVID-19 cases reported in Rajasthan

Four new cases of coronavirus have been reported from Rajasthan's Pratapgarh and Jodhpur, taking the total number of COVID19 cases to 32 in the state, the state health department said.

Mar 23, 2020 - 23:15 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Uber suspends services in cities across India

On Friday, Uber said that in compliance with government directives to limit movement for reducing the spread of COVID-19, Uber services across India have been affected. While the company will continue to offer services for essential and urgent travel needs of commuters, some or all of Uber’s rides services will not be available till further notice in the following cities:

Last updated: 23 March, 4:30 PM

• Andhra Pradesh: Tirupati, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam

• Delhi NCR

• Gujarat: Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot,

• Jharkhand: Dhanbad, Jamshedpur, Ranchi,  

• Maharashtra: Nagpur, Pune 

• Punjab: Amritsar, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Ludhiana

• Rajasthan: Ajmer, Jaipur, Jodhpur, Kota, Udaipur, 

• Telangana: Hyderabad

• Uttar Pradesh: Agra, Bareilly, Kanpur, Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi

• West Bengal: Asansol, Durgapur, Siliguri

Uber Pool and Uber Intercity services have been suspended across the country, until further notice.

Mar 23, 2020 - 23:10 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak Latest Updates

WHO cautions against "untested drugs" in COVID-19 treatment

CNN quoted the World Health Organisation as issuing a warning against using "untested drugs" to treat patients of the novel coronavirus on Monday.

"Small, observational and non-randomized studies will not give us the answers we need. Using untested drugs without the right evidence could raise false hope and even do more harm than good and cause a shortage of essential drugs that are needed to treat other diseases," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press conference.

"That’s why WHO has launched the SOLIDARITY trial, to generate robust, high-quality evidence as fast as possible. The more countries sign up to the trial and other large studies, the faster we will get results on which drugs work and the more lives we will be able to save," he added.

Mar 23, 2020 - 22:37 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Tihar Jail to release 3,000 inmates on parole, interim bail

The Tihar Jail will release around 3,000 inmates in the next 3-4 days, ANI reported. Of these, 1500 convicts will be released on parole and other 1500 undertrial prisoners to be released on interim bail, the Tihar Jail administration said.

Mar 23, 2020 - 22:33 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Curfew imposed in Puducherry  

Puducherry chief minister V Narayanaswamy said that curfew has been imposed in the union territory with immediate effect till 31 March to contain the spread of coronavirus. "All shops and offices except for those involved in essential services will remain closed during this period," he said.

Meanwhile, seven COVID-19 positive cases have been reported in Andhra Pradesh, the state public health department said.

Mar 23, 2020 - 22:14 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak Latest Updates

WHO South-East Asia office says COVID-19 not airbone virus

A statement by the WHO's South-East Asia regional office said, “Airborne spread has not been reported for COVID-19.  Based on the information received so far and on our experience with other coronaviruses, COVID-19 appears to spread mostly through respiratory droplets (for instance produced when a sick person coughs) and close contact. This is why WHO recommends maintaining hand and respiratory hygiene.
"The Chinese authorities reported that there could be a possibility of aerosol transmission in a relatively closed environment with prolonged exposure to high concentrations of aerosols, like in ICUs and CCUs in hospitals, but more investigations and analysis of epidemiological data is needed to understand this mode of transmission of the virus."

Coronavirus Outbreak LATEST Updates: Gujarat DGP Shivanand Jha said that from 12 am on Monday, the entire state will be under lockdown till 31 March. "State borders have been sealed. Action will be taken against the people who will violate the lockdown," he said.

Meanwhile, Rajasthan chief minister said that all private vehicles will be banned from Tuesday. "To save lives from coronavirus, we have taken the decision to ban all private vehicles on roads from tomorrow. Only vehicles related to essential services and those in exempted services would be allowed. State highway tolls will also be closed from midnight," he said.

According to the latest update, there are 97 coronavirus in Maharashtra, Mumbai Mirror reported. The report also gave a break down of the rise in cases in the last 24 hours, saying that out of 23 new cases, 17 were reported in the Mumbai-MMR region, one in Pune and Satara, and four in Sangli district.

The Delhi Police has directed people who are on the move for essential services to get curfew passes from the district office to ensure the adherence to Section 144, reports said.

The Indian Army on Monday asked more of its personnel to work from with the aim of taking precautions against the novel coronavirus spread in the country. In a fresh advisory, the defence force said that the measures are to be enforced in all military establishments/cantonments/formations/units in 82 districts under lockdown.

The advisory was quoted by The Indian Express as saying, "All tasks related to response to COVID-19 should continue without hindrance.

"Restricted movements in Cantonments and military stations.

"Personnel engaged in essential services permitted to function (Medical establishments, fire, electricity/ water supply, communication, post offices and sanitation services).

"Home delivery of grocery/ essential items catering to the requirements of the cantonments.

"Social distancing while performing all tasks.

"Additional districts/ extension of lockdown time frame by state governments will be adhered to as when promulgated.

"All station CSDs to be closed forthwith.

"Measures at IHQ of MoD(Army)/ (Army HQ)

"Only bare essential sections/ offices to function on a daily basis. Work from home to be implemented.

"Conferences and seminars postponed. Routine meetings and movements to be restricted.

"Personnel attending office will adhere to staggered timings."

The Nepal government on Friday announced a nationwide lockdown from 6 am (local time) on 24 March in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. One more positive case was reported in the country on Monday, taking the total number of positive cases to 2.

The nationwide lockdown in Nepal will be in place till 31 March, ANI reported.

The Kerala government on Friday announced a complete lockdown in the state. All borders in the state to remain closed, operations of all public transport to cease. All places of worship to also remain closed reports said.

The number of coronavirus cases in the state rose to 92 on Monday.

ICMR director general Balram Bhargava on Monday said that the process of kit manufacturing has been fast-tracked at the National Institute of Virology in Pune and two kit manufacturers have been already approved.

"I'd like to clarify that FDA/CE approval isn't mandatory. ICMR-NIV approved tests which will be done there on fast-track basis will also be acceptable for COVID-19 testing," he said.

"12 laboratory chains have been registered and they have started functioning. These 12 have 15,000 collection centres across the country," he added.

"415 confirmed cases reported so far, 23 patients discharged, 7 deaths reported - some of them also had co-morbid conditions," Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry said.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday announced that the state will be on a "complete lockdown mode" from 6 pm on Tuesday to the midnight of 31 March. Only grocery shops, chemists, petrol pumps will remain open, the chief minister said in a press briefing, adding that except for ambulances and goods vehicles, Assam borders will be sealed for all kinds of vehicles.

"In view of the fiscal year ending, only skeletal staff needed for financial transactions will be allowed in government offices and once those transactions are done the office will be immediately closed down," he said.

He also said that banks and ATMs will function but all religious activities will be stopped.

No case of coronavirus has been reported in the state so far, while cases across India crossed 400 on Monday.

The operations of domestic scheduled commercial airlines will cease with effect from midnight on 24 March as part of the government's measure to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country. Reports added that the restrictions will not apply to cargo flights.

ANI reported that a 57-year-old patient admitted to the AMRI hospital has died of a cardiac arrest and was detected as having contracted the novel coronavirus on Monday. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the patient had travel history with Italy.

Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Monday enforced Section 144 across the state, effective from 6 pm on 24 March (Tuesday) till 31 March, in an effort to curb the fast-spreading coronavirus.

District borders will be shut and only essential services will be available. With this, Tamil Nadu became the 15th state to go under lockdown as the number of confirmed cases climbed to 415.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Monday that companies' expenditure to fight the coronavirus pandemic will be considered valid under corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. The coronavirus outbreak will be treated as a disaster, the Finance Minister said on Twitter.

"Keeping in view of the spread of novel coronavirus, its declaration as pandemic by the World Health Organisaton (WHO), and decision of the government to treat this as a notified disaster. It is hereby clarified that spending of CSR funds for COVID-19 is eligible CSR activity," Ministry of Corporate Affairs said in an official notification.

In view of the increasing threat of the novel coronavirus, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) OPD services will remain closed till further notice, ANI reported. "All OPD services in All India Institute of Medical Sciences and all centres to remain closed till further orders."

Supreme Court on Monday said that the lawyers chambers inside the court premises will remain shut from Tuesday 5 pm onward. The top court also said there will be no more in-person hearings till further orders. The Court will conduct videoconferencing to hear urgent matters.

"Urgent matters will be taken up by court via video conferencing; lawyers may appear from their own offices. Lawyers chambers in the SC to be sealed at 5 pm on Tuesday.

The Centre has issued an order on Monday asking state governments to strictly enforce lockdown in coronavirus-affected areas as it was announced on Sunday. The government has also warned of legal action against violators.

In an attempt to contain the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak in India, several states announced they will be imposing lockdown till 31 March. In some of these states the lockdown is state-wide while in others only the districts that have reported novel coronavirus cases have been put under lockdown. So far, 80 districts across the country have reported Covid-19 cases.

Complying with the Central and the Delhi government directives, Uber is likely to suspend its services in the National Capital till 31 March to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Speaking about its pool services, an Uber Spokesperson said, "We are determined to help reduce the spread of coronavirus in the cities we serve. With that in mind, we are suspending the Uber Pool service across India. In line with the Government advisory, we urge people to stay safe and discourage non-essential travel."

However, there have been no official statement from Uber about shutting services in Delhi. but off the record, it said, "as of now services suspended in Delhi."

Another 15 coronavirus cases were reported in Maharashtra since Sunday evening, taking the state's tally to 89, according to new agency ANI.

As Maharashtra continued to lead in the number of active cases, Health Minister Rajesh Tope again appealed to people to refrain from stepping out of their homes as 'isolation' is the key to battling the COVID-19 virus.

Curfew will remain imposed in Pune, Maharashtra till 31 March. All establishments, excluding emergency services and essentials will remain closed during this period. Any offender shall be punished under section 188 of Indian Penal Code, Pune Police told ANI.

India reported three new deaths due to the coronavirus on Sunday, including the first casualties coming in from Bihar and Gujarat, taking the toll to seven. While the number of COVID-19 cases rose to 341 in the country, the citizens, as asked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, observed a 'janata curfew' from 7 am to 9 pm, with most people staying at home as a precaution against the virus.

The Centre has also decided to shutdown 75 districts across 22 states and Union Territories, which have reported cases of the COVID-19 and asked the respective governments to enforce a strict lockdown, allowing only essential services. Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the Union health ministry, clarified that essential services would include "ration, groceries, milk, medical services, transport of essential needs, among others."

The Indian Council of Medical Research's Director-General Balram Bhargava, during a joint press conference with the Union health ministry, emphasised that "isolation, isolation, isolation" is the only way to halt the infection's march.  He said that the country has the capacity to perform 50,000 to 70,000 tests for the coronavirus a week, and that 16 to 17 thousand tests have been conducted till now.

Bhargava added that as many as 60 private laboratories have been registered to conduct the COVID-19 tests.

Addressing the media, Bhargava said, "It is essential to understand the ailment. Eighty percent of the people will experience cold-like fever and they will recover. Some may need to be admitted to the hospital."

On the restrictions imposed in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19, Agarwal said, "All train services including suburban and metro services, interstate passenger transports are suspended till 31 March. These are efforts to break the chain of transmission."

The joint secretary also said that the Centre has provided additional N95 masks and personal protection equipment to states as per their requirements. However, he noted that states were asked to procure equipment through a letter on 17 January.

Janata curfew observed nationwide

Meanwhile, citizens across cities and states observed "janta curfew" in "letter and spirit" as urged by the prime minister, while some misconstrued the point of it all and took it a step further. Modi had urged the citizens to come out in their balconies and "clap" to show appreciation for the health workers and doctors who are working to fight the pandemic which has sent the whole world into a tizzy. Italy and France had demonstrated how, earlier this month. Modi's foremost message, during his address to the nation earlier this week, was "social distancing" and "self isolation".

Visuals shared widely on social media and by news outlets, however, showed that while some stayed in their homes and clapped and  beat utensils, several others took it to mean a community activity. Several people from across the country disregarded prime minister's appeal to stay at home, and participated in large processions in the evening.

A Twitter user posted several videos of 'celebrations' in several cities. In Jaipur and Mysuru, crowds of people were seen on  streets beating utensils and clapping. Crowds of people chanting slogans and dancing in Punjab. At Indore, people were seen taking part in large processions carrying the national flag.

Some senior journalists strongly condemned such processions, and said that assembling in public during such an outbreak amounted to "obscurantism" and quackery."

Coronavirus Outbreak Updates WHO warns against using untested drugs to fight COVID19 Gujarat Puducherry announce lockdown

A deserted New Delhi railway station on Sunday. Similar scenes were witnessed nationwide as the 'janata curfew' was observed. Image courtesy: Twitter/@DG_PIB

A little before 5 pm, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted:

In the national capital, roads were deserted with barely some private vehicles and buses plying. Vendors were off the roads in the morning hours with people confining themselves to their homes.

In Kolkata, the usually bustling Esplanade, and Dalhousie areas, besides airport and railway stations wore a deserted look as people stayed indoors to support the prime minister's call.

Commercial capital Mumbai observed the restrictions on Sunday with the usually bustling western and eastern express highways and other arterial roads wearing an empty look and people staying indoors to support the curfew.

However, at 5 pm, people rang bells and blew conchs, acknowledging the services of the thousands of doctors, nurse and other medical staff leading India's response to the deadly virus and making sure essential services remain unhindered.

Prime Minister Modi thanked the people for expressing their gratitude and solidarity.

Follow LIVE updates on the CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK here

Cutting across party lines, chief ministers and others leaders urged the people to follow the self-imposed curfew, noting that "social distancing" was key to breaking the chain of transmission, as the number of coronavirus cases rose to 324 on Sunday.

Coronavirus Outbreak Updates WHO warns against using untested drugs to fight COVID19 Gujarat Puducherry announce lockdown

ICMR DG Balram Bhargava addressing the media. ANI

States like Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and Bihar have announced either complete or partial lockdown till the month end.

No passenger train from any railway station in the country has originated beginning Saturday night and the restriction will continue till 10 pm on Sunday while all suburban train services will be reduced to a bare minimum as well. Metro services, including in Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai, has been suspended for the day.

Air carriers like GoAir, IndiGo and Vistara have curtailed domestic operations on Sunday.

Traders' body Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) had announced that they will keep their establishments shut across the country for the 'Janata curfew'.

Italy reports biggest day-to-day increase

Italy announced its biggest day-to-day increase of infections, which rose by 6,600 with nearly 800 new fatalities from the virus that causes COVID-19. The country's total death toll of more than 4,825 has surpassed the number of deaths in China, where the first cases emerged late last year.

Emirates Airlines, in a statement on Sunday, said, "Today we made the decision to temporarily suspend most passenger flights by 25 March 2020. SkyCargo operations will continue. This painful but pragmatic move will help Emirates Group preserve business viability and secure jobs worldwide, avoiding cuts. Having received requests from governments & customers to support repatriation of travellers, Emirates will continue to operate passenger and cargo flights to few countries until further notice, as long as borders remain open, and there is demand."

In the US, where multiple states have ordered residents to stay indoors, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the government is literally scouring the globe looking for medical supplies.

Health care workers from Oklahoma City to Minneapolis sought donations of protective equipment. Staff at a Detroit hospital began creating homemade face masks for workers. Even rural hospitals were strained as people increasingly felt the pandemic closing in.

Behind China and Italy, Spain now has the third-highest number of infections worldwide, followed by the US.

Spanish health authorities have acknowledged that some intensive care units in the hardest-hit areas are close to their limit. The army was building a field hospital with 5,500 beds in a convention center in Madrid, where hotels are also being turned into wards for virus patients without serious breathing problems.

With inputs from agencies

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