New Delhi: After an 85-year-old man from Jaipur tested positive for the coronavirus infection on Wednesday morning, the total cases reported in India rose to 62 according to media reports. However, the health ministry’s offical number stands at 52. On Tuesday, at least 14 new cases were reported, eight from Kerala alone. There have not been any deaths due to the infection in the country so far, while the Telangana government announced that a man who tested positive has now recovered.
Globally, close to 120,000 people from over a 100 countries have tested positive for the infection. Over 4,800 deaths have been reported so far.
India prohibits entry of cruise ships
India on Wednesday prohibited the entry of any international cruise ship, crew or passenger with a travel history to coronavirus-hit countries post February 1, 2020 to its major ports till March 31. To prevent the spread of the deadly virus, the Ministry of Shipping said it will allow only such international cruise ships which had intimated their call to ports by January 1, 2020.
“Only those international cruise ships which had planned and intimated their call to an Indian Port not later than 1st January, 2020 will be allowed to call on such port.
“Any international cruise ship or any member of its crew or any passenger therein having a travel history of visiting any of the Covid-19 affected countries… since 1st Feb, 2020; will not be permitted to enter any Indian port till 31st March, 2020,” the Ministry of Shipping said.
The government said international cruise ships will be allowed only at ports having thermal screening facilities for passengers and crew members. If any passenger/crew member shows symptoms of coronavirus, disembarking will not be permitted, it added.
Sri Lanka reports first positive case
Sri Lanka on Wednesday announced its first coronavirus case, a 52-year-old tour guide who had come in contact with a group of Italian tourists. The man has been kept at the isolation ward of the Infectious Diseases Hospital in North Colombo, director general of health services Anil Jasinghe said in a statement.
Lankan authorities are gathering information on the places visited by the Italian tour group with whom the guide came in contact.
The island nation has announced several measures in recent weeks to try and stop the spread of viral infection in the country. It has started quarantining returnees from Italy, South Korea and Iran. On Monday, it suspended Buddhist pilgrimage tours to India, saying these trips are mostly undertaken by elderly people, who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. The ‘Dambadiva Vandana’ tour involves trips to Buddhist shrines in Bodhgaya, Varanasi and Sarnath in India and Lumbini in Nepal.
85-year-old Jaipur man tests positive
An 85-year-old man in Jaipur who returned from Dubai on February 28 has tested positive for coronavirus, a state government official said on Wednesday. He was found presumptive positive in the first test on Tuesday and hence, a second test was conducted with fresh samples, the reports of which arrived late Tuesday night.
Additional chief secretary (medical and health) Rohit Kumar Singh, said, “The man who travelled to Dubai has been tested positive for coronavirus. It has been confirmed now.” Officials are also establishing contact with people who flew in the same flight to conduct tests.
The man has been kept in isolation at the SMS Hospital, where his wife and son have also been kept in isolation. The wife and son have not exhibited any symptoms.
A total of 235 people who came in contact with the octogenarian and his family have already been traced and are being monitored, the additional chief secretary said.
Britsh health minister tests positive
British health minister Nadine Dorries has become the first British MP to test positive for coronavirus. Releasing a statement on Tuesday, Dorries raised concerns about whether senior government figures have been infected. “I can confirm I have tested positive for coronavirus… and have been self-isolating at home,” said the Conservative MP.
According to NDTV, health officials are now trying to determine how she contracted the virus. Six people have died in Britain from the virus, with more than 370 confirmed cases.
French culture minister also tests positive
France’s culture minister Franck Riester said late on Monday he had tested positive for the coronavirus. President Emmanuel Macron’s chief of staff is also under self-isolation after coming in contact with an infected person.
Macron warned his nation on Tuesday that it was just at the start of a health epidemic.
Measures are also in place to protect Macron from contracting the virus, with meetings kept to a minimum and video conferences being encouraged.
Macron’s government had led calls for a fiscal shock in Europe to combat the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. There has been global disruption to businesses and supply chains, and neighbouring Italy is in lockdown.
Macron visited a paediatric hospital on Tuesday and urged the French people to stay calm after signs of panic buying of staple goods in and around Paris. But he cautioned, “We’re only at the beginning of this epidemic.”
Panama reports first coronavirus death in Central America
Panama on Tuesday confirmed eight cases of the new coronavirus in the country, including one death, the first from the infection in Central America.
According to the health ministry, the man who died is 64 years old and was already suffering from diabetes complications associated with bacterial pneumonia.
Panama is the second Central American country to record cases of the COVID-19 virus following Costa Rica, where 13 people tested positive, including three Americans. The government ordered public and private schools to remain closed until April 7 in the potentially affected regions.
22 new deaths in China
China reported 22 new coronavirus deaths, taking the death toll in the country to 3,158, health officials said on Wednesday. Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first visit to the worst-hit Wuhan city, where he lauded authorities and medical staff for “turning the tide” against the epidemic.
Twenty-four new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 22 deaths have been reported on the Chinese mainland on Tuesday, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said on Wednesday. All the deaths were in Hubei Province and its capital Wuhan.
The overall confirmed cases on the mainland reached 80,778 by the end of Tuesday, including 3,158 people who died of the disease in the last three months, 16,145 patients undergoing treatment and 61,475 discharged after recovery, it said.
Xi on Tuesday made his first visit to Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, which along with the entire Hubei province with over 50 million people was kept under total lockdown since January 23, banning all movement of transportation. The president visited a hospital treating severely ill COVID-19 patients and a residential community.
Xi came under criticism initially for not acting in time to stem the virus when it emerged in December last year. He said the spread of coronavirus had been curbed in Hubei Province.
India puts additional restrictions on people travel history to Italy, South Korea
In addition to visa restrictions already in place, people travelling from or having visited Italy and South Korea will now have to mandatorily submit a certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from laboratories authorised by the health authorities of their countries.
This measure came into effect from at midnight on March 10 and will remain in effect until cases of the virus subside, according to a health ministry advisory. According to media reports, 45 Indians are stuck at Rome airport with the Emirates airline not letting them board, saying they won’t be allowed to deboard in India.
“In addition to visa restrictions already in place, passengers travelling from/having visited Italy or Republic of Korea and desirous of entering India will need certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from the designated laboratories authorized by the health authorities of these countries,” according to the health ministry advisory issued Thursday.
India issues travel advisory for citizens
The Union health ministry on Tuesday asked people to refrain from travelling to China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, Japan, France, Spain and Germany and advised them to avoid non-essential travel abroad in view of the coronavirus outbreak.
Some of these countries have reported high number of cases and deaths, putting passengers from these countries particularly at higher risk of infection. “In view of the above, Indian citizens are advised to avoid non- essential travel abroad. They are further strongly advised to refrain from travelling to China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, Japan, France, Spain and Germany,” it said.
India temporarily bars entry of nations from three more countries
India on Tuesday barred entry of citizens of three more countries, France, Germany and Spain, suspending regular as well as e-Visas granted to them till date, if they have not yet entered the country.
“All regular (sticker) Visas/e-Visas granted to nationals of France, Germany and Spain and issued on or before March 11 and who have not yet entered India stand suspended with immediate effect,” said a Bureau of Immigration notification issued late Tuesday night.
Regular visas, including e visas, granted to all foreign nationals who have travel history to these countries on or after February 1 and who have not yet entered India also stands suspended, it said. The notification also strongly urged Indian citizens to refrain from travelling to France, Spain and Germany, besides the other countries they were advised earlier to avoid.
India has already suspended visas for citizens of Italy, Iran, South Korea, Japan and China.
The new notification was issued shortly after cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba on Tuesday held a high-level meeting of secretaries of various ministries and departments, grappling to contain the spread of the deadly Covid-19.
Dilip Ghosh downplays coronavirus scare
West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh on Tuesday appeared to downplay the global coronavirus scare, asserting that thousands of people at temples across India drink water with their hands and also consume ‘prasad’, but “nothing happens” as they have the blessings of god.
“The entire world is scared of the coronavirus and millions are staying at home. Those who have conquered the whole world, reached the moon… they are scared of coming out of their homes,” Ghosh said.