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Coronavirus Updates, March 18: Cases in India Rise to 151, Odisha to Distribute 3 Months’ Rations

Coronavirus Updates, March 18: Cases in India Rise to 151, Odisha to Distribute 3 Months’ Rations

Featured image: Billboards on awareness towards the novel coronavirus on the Western Express Highway in Mumbai, March 17, 2020. Photo: PTI

Total number of cases rise to 151 

The number of novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 151 on Wednesday after four more were reported from various parts of the country, according to the health ministry.

The cases include 25 foreign nationals and the three persons who died in Delhi, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Over 5,700 people, who had come in contact with these positive cases, are under rigorous surveillance, the ministry said.

Delhi has so far reported ten positive cases which includes one foreigner, while Uttar Pradesh has recorded 16 cases, including one foreigner.

Number of cases in Maharashtra jumps to 44

A 68-year-old woman, who worked as a domestic help at the home of a man who tested positive two days ago for coronavirus, has also tested positive. With this, the total number of cases of COVID-19 infection in the state has jumped to 44. In Mumbai alone, eight persons have been tested positive.

The man, who is in his 40s, had travelled to the US and returned to Mumbai recently. His wife and daughter were also infected and all three of them have been undergoing medication at the city’s Kasturba hospital situated in Chichpokali in central Mumbai. The domestic help has also been moved to Kasturba hospital, a civic authority confirmed.

According to a medical bulletin released by the Maharashtra government on March 18 evening, 58 suspected patients have been hospitalised across the state. In all, a total of 1,227 passengers have come to the state from COVID-19 affected areas.

Maharashtra began screening and hospitalising people in various isolation wards from January 18 onwards. Since then, 958 people have been hospitalised across the state after they developed symptoms.

Odisha to distribute food grains, oil to PDS beneficiaries without biometric scanning

To avoid spread of the disease and also shortage of food as panic over the pandemic grows, the Odisha government has announced that it will distribute food grains and oil to nearly 3.30 crore beneficiaries of the Public Distribution System without using any biometric scanning. The government will only use electronic point-of-sale machines, Minister for Food Supplies & Consumer Welfare, Ramendra Pratap Swain announced.

Rice, wheat, and S.K. oil will be distributed with the help of district collectors who have been asked to make all arrangements for the process to start from April 1. As many as 3.26 crore beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act and 4.50 lakh beneficiaries under the State Food Security Act will receive food grains and oil for April, May and June.

Gurgaon resident tests positive

A 44-year-old Gurgaon resident has tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Haryana, an official said on Wednesday. In Haryana, there are 17 cases, which include 14 foreigners, according to Union health ministry data.

“A resident of Gurgaon has tested positive for the coronavirus,” said state Director General of Health Suraj Bhan Kamboj on Wednesday evening. The man’s samples were collected at Safdarjung hospital in Delhi and they were found positive for the coronavirus infection, PTI reported. The patient was admitted at the hospital on March 9, he said.

The 44-year-old man is the second confirmed case of coronavirus from Haryana, Kamboj said. Earlier, a 29-year old woman from Gurgaon had tested positive for the novel coronavirus and her condition is stable.

So far, samples of 91 persons have been taken in Haryana, out of which reports of 68 have tested negative so far, according to a media bulletin issued by the Haryana government. The bulletin said so far, a total of 3,589 patients have been put under home isolation, and 43 isolated at hospitals.

Lucknow: Junior resident doctor contracts infection while treating patients

A 25-year-old junior resident doctor of the King George Medical University in Lucknow has tested positive for the coronavirus after coming in contact with two patients undergoing treatment for the disease, a hospital spokesperson said on Wednesday.

The university subsequently announced the suspension of all under graduate academic classes and examinations until April 2 as a preventive measure to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The doctor has been kept in an isolation ward and is undergoing treatment, the spokesperson said, according to news agency PTI.

The junior doctor had taken the samples of a woman from Canada and one of her relatives who are undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at an isolation ward of the KGMU. “Suddenly, some symptoms were seen in him and he was tested at the university laboratory, where he was found positive for coronavirus infection,” KGMU spokesperson, Dr Sudhir Singh said.

“The resident doctor has been kept in an isolation ward and is undergoing treatment,” he said.

Singh said 14 other people working in the isolation ward were also tested and they were found negative for the infection.

Telangana reports sixth case

A fresh coronavirus case has been reported in Telangana on Wednesday, taking the total number of cases in the state to six.

The person who tested positive came from the UK, official sources said, adding that further details would be shared later, according to news agency PTI.

The Telangana government on Saturday announced a number of measures, including the closure of all educational institutions, coaching centres and summer camps until March 31, to prevent the spread of the virus in the state. Board exams, however, would be held as per schedule.

Delhi high court expresses satisfaction with efforts to rescue students in Iran

The Delhi high court on Wednesday expressed satisfaction over the steps taken by the Centre in getting in touch with and bringing back most of the Indian students stranded in Iran in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

A single-judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla was informed by the counsel for the Centre that 119 Indians students, who were stuck in Iran and had moved the court through their parents, were tested for COVID-19 and that one student has tested positive and is undergoing treatment there.

The Centre’s standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia told the court that of those 119 students, 110 have returned to India and while five did not go for sampling, four have tested negative for the virus and are in Iran.

After perusing the status report filed by the government, the judge said, “I am satisfied with the steps taken by the respondents (authorities)”. The court also noted that authorities have done more than what was expected.

The court also noted that in case the parents are able to contact the remaining students there, they shall inform the authorities who will then act expeditiously. The petition was disposed of by the bench.

The Wire had reported on Tuesday that a list suggests that 254 pilgrims from India who have tested positive for COVID-19. It is unlikely that these people will be brought back to India, after MEA coordinator for COVID-19, additional secretary Dammu Ravi, said on March 12, “The affected individuals are also a risk to their own countries… If Indians test positive elsewhere, we would expect the country they are in to take care of them like we are doing with the foreign nationals (here).”

Delhi high court. Photo: PTI

Former Union minister Suresh Prabhu in self-quarantine

Former Union minister Suresh Prabhu is in self-isolation as a precaution after returning from Saudi Arabia. The BJP has tested negative for COVID-19, but has decided to quarantine himself as a precaution. He was in Saudi Arabia to attend a G20 meeting.

Prabhu was appointed as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sherpa for the G20 summit. A sherpa is a personal representative of a head of state who prepares the ground for him or her at international summits. He left for Saudi Arabia on March 10.

On Tuesday, The Wire had reported that Union minister V, Muraleedharan had also placed himself under self-isolation even after he tested negative for the disease.

Indian Army reports first confirmed coronavirus case

The Indian Army on Wednesday reported the first coronavirus infection. A 34-year-old soldier from the Ladakh Scouts regiment tested positive for the infection in Leh, army sources said, taking the total number of cases in India to 151.

According to news agency PTI, the soldier is a resident of Chuhot village in Leh and came in contact with his father, who had returned from a pilgrimage in Iran by an Air India flight on February 20 and tested positive for COVID-19. The father has been in quarantine at the Ladakh Heart Foundation since February 29.

Before being quarantined, the soldier’s father had met the family members.

The soldier was on leave from February 25 and rejoined duty on March 2, sources said, adding he was quarantined on March 7 and tested positive on March 16.

Even the soldier’s brother has tested positive, sources said.

The soldier has been isolated at the Sonam Nurboo Memorial (SNM) Hospital. His sister, wife and two children are also quarantined at the SNM Heart Foundation.

“Even though the soldier had rejoined duty, he was helping his family during his father’s quarantine period and stayed at Chuchot village for some time,” they said.

Sources said all those who have come in contact with the soldier have been quarantined but did not give the exact numbers immediately.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 151 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus infection in the country.

West Bengal records first case, woman in Pune tests positive

West Bengal late on Tuesday reported its first coronavirus infection. A man who recently returned from England tested positive for the novel coronavirus, health department officials said. According to reports, the man was admitted to Beleghata ID Hospital. His parents and driver have also been kept in isolation.

Reports on Wednesday said that a woman in Pune with travel history to France and the Netherlands tested positive for the coronavirus infection on Wednesday. With this, Pune has reported 18 cases of COVID-19, and Maharashtra has reported 42, the most in the country.

People wear masks as they wait outside Kerala School ahead for the CBSE Class 10 exams in New Delhi, March 18, 2020. Photo: PTI/Arun Sharma

Virus can remain stable on surfaces for days

A new study conducted by the National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University has found that the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces. The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine finds that the virus was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

According to a release by the NIH, the study attempted to mimic the virus being deposited from an infected person onto everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting, such as through coughing or touching objects.

The release also highlighted the importance of following guidelines issued by public health professionals to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Precautions include avoiding close contact with people who are sick, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, staying at home when sick and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Five more members of family from Ladakh test positive 

Five of the eight members of the family who were kept in isolation in Chuchot village in Ladakh have tested positive for the coronavirus infection. Previously, The Wire had reported that two members of the family had tested positive, forcing the entire village to go into lockdown. The family’s head, a 67-year-old man, had returned from Iran and tested positive after some days of stay at home. His son also tested positive.

Of the three other family members who were also kept in isolation, one tested negative and the reports of two others are yet to come.

Mudasir Ahmad reports that the situation has led to panic in the health department, which is now taking more samples from the entire locked down village for tests. However, authorities also said that the bigger problem was lack of a testing facility in Ladakh. After samples are sent to Delhi, it takes 7-10 days for reports to come. Despite petitioning the local administration and the Centre to open a local testing centre, there has been no response.

One doctor told The Wire that people who had come in contact with the family want to get tested but the department was helpless. The Union Territory of Ladakh has so far reported eight cases of COVID-19 and the sparsely populated region remains cut off from the outside world.

China reports just one domestic case on Tuesday

On Tuesday, China, the source of the coronavirus infection, reported just one domestically acquired case of COVID-19 for the second consecutive day. The state reported a total of 13 new cases, but 12 were ‘imported’ from other countries.

According to the World Health Organisation, China has so far reported 80,894 cases and 3,237 deaths.

Russia closes border to all foreign nationals

Russian on Monday banned foreign nationals from entering the country and shut state schools and limited public gatherings in Moscow in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.

According to Reuters, the ban on foreign nationals will be enforced from Wednesday until May 1, though diplomats, airplane crew members and some other categories of people will be exempt.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin prohibited all outdoor events and limited public indoor events to no more than 50 people until April 10.

As of Tuesday, Russia has 93 confirmed cases of VODI-19, up from 63 on Sunday. The country has not reported any deaths yet.

Russia cancelled all sporting events from Monday, while sports minister Oleg Matytsin ordered all educational and scientific institutions under his department’s jurisdiction to strengthen sanitary and preventative measures against the spread of the virus.

India says 276 citizens abroad have tested positive

A total of 276 Indians have tested positive for the coronavirus overseas to date, V. Muraleedharan, minister of state for external affairs, said in a written reply to a question in parliament on Wednesday.

The vast majority, 255, tested positive in Iran, with others in the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, Rwanda and Hong Kong, he said. On Tuesday, The Wire had reported that a list suggests that 254 Indians had tested positive for COVID-19 in Iran, but Indian government officials refused to confirm the authenticity of the list.

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