Coronavirus in India: Death toll at 2; States get into lockdown mode

New Delhi | Mumbai: A 69-year-old woman from west Delhi suffering from Covid-19 died on Friday, taking the toll to two a day after Karnataka confirmed death of a 76-year-old man on Thursday.

The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in India rose to 81 and state governments around the country went into battle mode, closing schools and colleges, entertainment venues and malls. Experts said the next month will be vital in determining whether community transmission will happen in the country.

High-profile events like the Indian Premier League (IPL) was postponed by two weeks, while novel coronavirus-related disruptions continued in sectors like aviation and restaurants, as well in bluechip institutions like IIMs, which postponed foreign faculty intakes and cancelled many campus events.

Experts at the Indian Council of Medical Research said community transmission — the disease spreading from people with no travel history to severely affected countries — has to be taken seriously after India has reported two deaths. In Karnataka’s Kalaburagi town, 46 people who were in direct contact with the elderly man who died on Tuesday night were placed under quarantine.


FM, CEA Strike a Positive Note

There was some good news, too. All 112 people admitted to an ITBP quarantine facility in Delhi for over a fortnight tested negative for the novel coronavirus. All of them were evacuated last month from Wuhan in China.

Both finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and chief economic advisor K Subramanian struck a note of optimism saying the government was in full engagement mode with the industry as well as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for any specific or broadbased policy response that may be required. Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for a SAARC-wide coordinated response.

“Each department is spending a lot of time to see how best relief can be given,” the FM said, while the CEA said “markets are not reflecting India’s economic fundamentals”.

Army sources told PTI that a man who had returned from Italy this week tested positive at the force’s Manesar quarantine facility in Haryana. Officials in Maharashtra also said two more in Nagpur tested positive for the disease.

Union health ministry officials did not immediately confirm the cases in Maharashtra and Manesar. Giving a breakup, the health ministry said Delhi has reported six positive cases and Uttar Pradesh 10. Karnataka has five patients, Maharashtra 11 and Ladakh three suffering from Covid-19.

Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab have reported one case each. Kerala has recorded 17 cases, including three patients discharged last month after they recovered from the contagious infection with flu-like symptoms. The confirmed cases include 17 foreigners — 16 Italian tourists and a Canadian who was in Uttar Pradesh.


Responding to speculation over the ongoing Budget Session being shortened, Union parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi told PTI, “There is no question of curtailing the session.”

While states such as Karnataka, Odisha, Delhi, Bihar and Maharashtra went into virtual shutdown mode, others like Jharkhand, Haryana and Punjab have taken similar precautionary measures.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) deferred this year’s IPL cricket tournament from March 29 to April 15. “The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to suspend IPL 2020 till 15th April 2020, as a precautionary measure against the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation,” said BCCI secretary Jay Shah in a statement.

India’s remaining two one-day matches against South Africa have also been cancelled.

The decision came hours after the Delhi government, which on Thursday announced that schools, colleges and cinema halls would be shut till March 31, said it was also stopping all sports gatherings, including IPL 2020. Jawaharlal Nehru University and Jamia Millia Islamia have suspended classes for now.

Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa on Friday announced a lockdown of universities, malls, cinema theatres, pubs and night clubs for a week and instructed against holding exhibitions, conferences, marriage and birthday parties.

Maharashtra followed suit on the same day with CM Uddhav Thackeray ordering closure of all theatres, gyms, swimming pools, auditoriums from Friday midnight in Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad, Navi Mumbai, Thane and Nagpur.

Airlines reported high numbers of cancellations for domestic flights and expect worse in days to come. And many are shelving plans for leasing aircraft. And India’s restaurateurs have asked the industry body to negotiate with local authorities and malls to reduce payment obligations like rents, given the steep fall in business.

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