News at Nine
- COVID-19 recovery rate rises to 41.61 per cent in the country, fatality rate goes down to 2.87 per cent.
- Phase two of Vande Bharat Mission to be expanded to bring back one lakh stranded Indians from 60 countries.
- Union Minister and BJP leader Prakash Javadekar hits out at Congress for playing politics during the fight against COVID-19.
- Aarogya Setu becomes open source; Government highlights transparency, privacy and security as the core principles of the app.
- Health Secretary reviews COVID-19 situation in five states where cases are on the surge.
- Validity period of Hotel approval and classification extended till 30th June.
- Heat wave conditions continue in North west and Central India; Temperature in Churu, Rajasthan reaches 50 degree.
The Health Ministry has said that the recovery rate of patients from COVID-19 infection has now gone up to 41.61 per cent which was 7.1 per cent in March this year. Briefing media in New Delhi, Health Ministry official said that the fatality rate due to corona virus infection has come down from 3.30 percent to 2.87 per cent , which is amongst the lowest in the world.
He said, due to the lockdown and containment measures taken by the government, 10.7 cases per lakh population have been reported in India as compared to 69.9 COVID19 cases per lakh population for the world as a whole. The official said 4.5 deaths per lakh population have been reported for the world, while India has reported about 0.3 deaths per lakh population, which is amongst the lowest in the world.
The Health Ministry official also appealed to people to maintain hand hygiene and social distancing and wear masks while stepping out. He said, there is a need to focus on prevention and containment measures. He said, about fifty per cent of deaths are reported among elderly people while 73 per cent are reported in the patients with comorbidity.
ICMR, Director General said that currently over one lakh samples for COVID-19 are being tested in a day. He said, the country has now 612 labs.
Health Secretary Preeti Sudan along with senior officers of the Union Health Ministry held a high-level review meeting through video conference today with the Chief Secretaries, Health Secretaries and NHM Directors of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. These states are witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases since the last three weeks as lockdown rules have been eased and inter-state migration has been allowed.
The states were briefed on the individual case trajectory with respect to case fatality rate, doubling time, testing per million and confirmation percentage. Factors that need to be focused for effective containment strategy were discussed in the meeting.
It was also emphasized that each containment zone has to be analysed to check the trends and adopt course correction measures through proper formation and implementation of micro plans. The activities within the Buffer Zone were also reiterated. It was reiterated that States need to pay focused attention on assessing the available health infrastructure and to strengthen them. Use of data emerging from Aarogya Setu was also pointed out to the participating States.
Regarding non-COVID essential health services, the States were reminded that immediate measures need to be taken to continue essential health programs for TB, Leprosy, and Non-communicable diseases like hypertension, and diabetes.
It was advised that Mobile Medical Units can be stationed at quarantine centres and temporary sub-health centres could be set up in existing buildings and additional frontline workers can be utilized.
External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar today held a detailed review meeting of Vande Bharat Mission (VBM). The meet focused on to ramp up its scale and enhance its efficiency.
In a series of tweets, Dr Jaishankar said, the meeting discussed further expanding the Phase two of VBM which is currently underway. It will target one lakh passengers from 60 countries. He said, preparations for Third Phase of the mission was discussed and increase in entry points and expanded feeder flights are being planned. He said, Indians returning through land borders has started today.
The Minister added that arrangements are being made for amnesty beneficiaries in the Gulf. He informed that Naval evacuation of Indian fishermen in Iran will happen in June. Dr Jaishankar also said, Air India will shortly shift to direct ticketing to facilitate bookings abroad. He said, the Centre is working with State Governments for more efficient use of cumulative quarantine capacity.
As part of Vande Bharat Mission, nine flights will carry stranded passengers to Kerala today of which eight are from Gulf region and one from Israel. Flight from Abu dhabi, Dubai and Bahrain will arrive in Kozhikode today by late evening. Two flights are scheduled to arrive in Kochi, one from Dubai and another from Tel Aviv which will be reaching in a shortwhile. Two flights are also scheduled to reach Thiruvananthapuram and Kannur from Dubai and Abu dhabi today. Over 1,000 Indian nationals will be reaching Kerala today under the mission.
In Bihar, the fourth Air India flight AI 1952 under the Vande Bharat Mission carrying 127 stranded passengers from Bishkek, Krgyzstan reached Gaya international airport this evening. Passengers who came today were sent for 14 day quarantine.
The State Government has arranged a hotel for passengers.
Six flights have so far been scheduled to land at Gaya airport. These flights will come till 3rd of next month.
In Andhra Pradesh, domestic flight services resumed this morning almost after a gap of two months from the two airports of the state. The first flight by a private operator from Bengaluru landed at Gannavaram airport in Vijayawada early today with 79 passengers. As per the Airport Director, Madhusudhan Rao, the aircraft also returned to Bengaluru with 68 passengers onboard. Another flight from another private operator from Bengaluru also landed with 48 passengers and departed with 50 passengers onboard.
Similarly, Visakhapatnam airport is scheduled to handle flights today from Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Delhi. As per the State Government officials, the passengers who land from Delhi will have to be in institutional quarantine for a week and then they will have to be in home quarantine for one more week. All the passengers in both the airports are being handled as per the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry’s guidelines.
From the Chennai Airport, 41 flights are being operated on the second day of the resumption of domestic air services today. They include 21 arrival and 20 departures.
Meanwhile, the state has witnessed 642 new Covid-19 cases taking the total infected cases to 17,728. They include 509 from Chennai, 49 returnees from other states and five from abroad. Nine people lost their battle against the disease today mounting the total mortality to 127, most of them with comorbidity conditions. 611 patients returned home after cure, leaving the current caseload at 8,256.
“As the current phase of the lockdown draws to a close by the end of this month, the medical experts meeting has been held today. Testing strategies, treatment protocols, reducing mortality, special measures for the vulnerable groups and hospital preparedness have been discussed threadbare in the meeting. Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy, health minister and key officials listened to the experts at the Secretariat at Fort St George in Chennai, while the World Health Organization Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan joined through video conferencing from her Geneva office. The Director of the Christian Medical College, Vellore and the President of the Indian Medical Association from Erode also participated in the consultations through video-conferencing. It is said that the state government will take into account several other key factors also while deciding on the future course of the lockdown. Jayasingh, AIR News, Chennai.”
The Civil Aviation Ministry has allowed domestic chartered flights and private jets to resume their operations. The Ministry had issued an order in this regard yesterday. After a two month gap, the country resumed its domestic passenger flights from Monday. The Ministry said that non-scheduled and private operator of fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters and micro-light aircraft can resume their domestic flights from 25th of May onwards.
As per the guidelines issued in this regard, the Ministry said, if a passenger had manually booked his or her ticket for a chartered helicopter flight, the boarding pass will be issued at the helipad or heliport with minimum contact and after following all sanitization protocol. It said, passengers should report at the airport, heliport or helipad at least 45 minutes before the departure time. Vulnerable people, such as very elderly, pregnant ladies, passengers with health issues are advised to avoid air travel.
Union Minister and Senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar today hit out at the Congress saying when the country is fighting to contain COVID-19, the Congress is playing politics on it.
Talking to media in New Delhi, Mr Javadekar said, while the whole world is appreciating India for imposing the lockdown at the right time, the Congress is criticizing it. He said, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s press conference today is an example of the politics the Congress is doing and what he said about the lockdown is wrong as well. Mr Javadekar said, the COVID-19 doubling rate was three days before the lockdown and it is 13 now which reflects India’s success. He said, 45 lakh migrant workers were transported to their home states by over 3,000 special trains. Citing various welfare provisions of the Central government including five month free ration for over 80 crore poor and transfer of 2000 rupees to nine crore farmers, Mr Javadekar said these measures in real term are more than 7,500 rupees that is demanded by Mr Gandhi for the poor.
Arogya Setu, India’s Covid-19 contact tracing, syndromic mapping and self assessment mobile app is now open source. Announcing it this evening in New Delhi, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said, transparency, privacy and security have been the core design principles of Araogya Setu since it’s inception and opening of the source code upto the developer community signifies Government of India’s continuing commitment to this principle.
Mr Kant said, today the scale and size of Arogya Setu is 115 million and it cuts across every smart phone and IVRS in 12 languages. He said, in just 41 days the mobile app crossed 100 million downloads.
Health Ministry has reiterated its appeal to the people to follow hand hygiene and social distancing norms to contain the spread of COVID-19 infection. In a series of tweets, the Ministry has stressed that as a part of the new normal, people should always follow social distancing norms and wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The Ministry said, spitting in public is a punishable offence and it increases the risk of spread of of the coronavirus.
“Health Ministry has urged people to wear face-covers to protect themselves and break the chain of corona outbreak. It has also asked people to share authentic information and encourage people if they develop symptoms to get tested. Stigma can discourage people from seeking immediate help and contribute to more severe health problems. Therefore, it is important to break the stigma. Maintaining do gaj ki doori is important to ensure everyone’s security. People should avoid touching their hands, nose and mouth. They should also refrain from consuming smokeless tobacco products and spitting as it will not only improve the level of basic hygiene but will also prevent the spread of coronavirus. If anyone develops symptoms like fever, cough and difficulty in breathing, they must immediately call the All India help-line number 1075. Suparna Saikia, AIR News, Delhi.”
In a major relaxation to the tourism industry, the validity period of approval and classification of hotels and accommodation units has been extended till 30th June by the Government.
Ministry of Tourism classifies hotels under the star rating system. Under this system, hotels and accomodation units are given various ratings ranging from one to five stars, five Star deluxe, legacy vintage, home stays, guest houses including others.
The Government has decided that validity of approval or certifications of hotels and other accommodation units whose project approvals and classification status have expired or are likely to expire in the period from 24th March till 29th June will be extended till 30th June.
In addition to this, the tourism ministry has also allowed six month extension to the approvals granted to all categories of tour operators, travel agents and tourist transport operators. The extension is valid for the operators in case the already granted approval is likely to expire or has expired between 20th March till the continuation of lockdown and the operator has applied for a renewal.
Railways has operationalised more than three thousand 60 Shramik Special trains across the country to transport migrant workers to their home States. More than 40 lakh passengers have reached their destinations by these trains. Rail Minister Piyush Goyal has expressed happiness that the railways successfully operated more than three thousand Shramik Special trains and took migrant workers from different parts of the country to their home state. In a tweet, Mr Goyal appealed to all the states to cooperate with the Railways and help their labourer brothers and sisters Our correspondent reports that 80 per cent of these Shramik trains are scheduled for various destinations in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
“Railways had started running Shramik Special trains from 1st May, to move migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places due to lock down. The top five States and Union Territories from where maximum trains originated are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. These trains were terminated in various States across the country. Uttar Pradesh received the highest number of one thousand 245 trains, followed by Bihar 846 trains and Jharkhand 123 trains. During the journey, passengers are given free meals and water. In addition to Shramik specials Railways is running 15 pairs of special AC trains connecting New Delhi and has decided to start 200 more trains from 1st June. With Dipendra, Anand Kumar, AIR News, Delhi”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today expressed his appreciation for the support extended by Egyptian authorities for the safety and welfare of Indian nationals in Egypt during the COVID-19 crisis.
In a telephonic conversation today, Prime Minister Modi conveyed greetings for Eid-ul-Fitr to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and to the people of Egypt. Mr.Modi referred to his earlier planned visit to Egypt this year, which had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and conveyed his desire to meet President Sisi as soon as circumstances permit.
President Sisi referred to Egypt and India as being among the oldest civilizations in the world, and expressed happiness about the fast expanding bilateral relationship.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephonic conversation today with President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen. The Austrian President condoled the damage caused in India by Cyclone Amphan. The leaders exchanged views on measures taken in their countries to manage the adverse health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. They agreed on the importance of international collaboration to deal with the present challenges.
Both the leaders emphasised their shared desire to further strengthen and diversify India-Austria relations in the post-Covid world. The Prime Minister highlighted opportunities for enhanced cooperation in sectors like infrastructure, technology, research and innovation.
The Uttar Pradesh government has decided to set up a migration commission to help find jobs for workers returning home. Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Information) Awanish Awasthi said any state that wants labourers from UP has to seek its permission.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also said that other states will need permission from the UP government if they want to make use of labourers from Uttar Pradesh. About 25 lakh migrants, workers and their families, have returned to Uttar Pradesh from other states.
At a meeting with senior officials, the Chief Minister reiterated that his government is committed to a safe and respectable homecoming of workers and to provide them with jobs and social security.
In Mumbai, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) has devised a strategy to break the chain of virus, which has resulted into scores of death due to COVID-19. Mumbai, as it is known is the hotbed of coronavirus pandemic. The strategy will focus on isolating at least 15 high risk persons who have come in contact of a positive patient and they will be government quarantined. Over 1000 deaths have been reported in Mumbai due to coronavirus.
“Chase the virus and get on top of it is what the Mumbai municipal corporation has decided to do in the words of its commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal. The strategy, he said has been devised on the advise of chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to break the chain of COVID-19. Mr, Chahal said that even if the toll of COVID-19 patients has surpassed 31,000 mark the active cases are about 22,000 in Mumbai at present. He said, 17,000 patients have been cured and discharged from various hospitals. The Mumbai civic body has tested 13,000 people per one million population and so far 1 lakh 75 thousand persons have been tested in the metropolis. The commissioner also said that Mumbai has a robust health care system and one lakh beds will be available with the municipal corporation in upcoming days. As of now, he said the civic body has 75,000 beds to treat the patients. KUNAL SHINDE, AIR NEWS, MUMBAI”
A public-private partnership in India has yielded an important breakthrough, that will help produce RT PCR test kits for testing COVID 19 patients. Dr.Kiran Mazumdar Shah, the chairperson of Governing Council of National Biomedical Resource Indigenisation Consortium, NBRIC has said that two enzymes namely Taq Polymerase and Reverse Tranase needed for RT PCR test kits are developed in partnership with Bengaluru based Indian Institute of Science and private partner Richcore life sciences company. She has said that Pune based Indian Institute of Science Education and Research has also partnered in the project.
“India is set to locally produce RT-PCR testing and rapid antibody detection test kits for Covid-19, reducing dependence on imports. Helping this goal is the breakthrough by NBRIC in partnership with Richcore lifesciences. The two enzymes developed by them form a key to India’s efforts to produce the test kits. The Chairman and Managing Director of Richcore company R Subramani has said that once these enzymes are approved and certified by cGMP, India can produce millions of test kits in a few weeks. Meanwhile in a facebook post the Karnataka Primary and the Secondary Education minister Suresh Kumar has informed that over two lakh 19 thousand samples are tested in the state and out of which around 2283 are confirmed positive. R. Murthy AIR News Bengaluru”
Two Corona positive pregnant women in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand gave birth to perfectly healthy and corona negative children and were discharged from the hospital today.
“Continuous efforts of our dedicated doctors and corona warriors, are bearing fruitful results. In this connection, two newly turned mothers who once were tested Corona positive during pregnancy had breastfed their newborns, and the reports of the babies came out to be negative. Both women belonged to Katkamsandi block and were provided with a balanced and nutritious diet after they were admitted at Hazaribagh Hospital for COVID19 treatment. After delivery, both of them had continuously kept breastfeeding their newborns on doctors advice. Both the newborns survived the COVID19 infection. Hsazaribagh Civil Surgeon Dr. Sanjay Jaiswal said that since newborns cannot be separated from the mother, they were kept along with the mother. Corona negative report of both the newborns is an achievement and brings some relief in this era of despair.
The district administration and health department have made arrangements to send the mother and newborns along with other patients to their home. With Shadwal Kumar from Hazaribagh, this is Shilpi for AIR News from Ranchi.”
In our series ‘Expert Speak’ on All India Radio, we bring you the views of some leading medical experts on COVID-19.
Talking to AIR News, Dr.Ambuj Roy of Cardiology Department of AIIMS advised the elderly people and those suffering from other diseases like hypertension and cancer to take extra precautions to avoid infection.
Dr Naresh Gupta of LNJP Hospital, Delhi suggested to the people to maintain hygiene and social distancing.
In Nepal, 90 more person tested positive for COVID-19 today. This is the highest number of Corona virus cases reported in a single day so far. According to the Ministry of Health and Population the total number of COVID-19 cases have reached to 772 in the Himalayan nation. On a positive side 43 persons cured and discharged from various hospitals of the country today. There are now 613 active cases, while 155 people have been recovered. Four persons have died of COVID-19 so far. All seven provinces of Nepal are affected by the corona virus. Province 2 and Province 5 are the most affected by the COVID-19.
The Government has refuted the claim that 10 people have lost their lives in trains due to hunger. Press Information Bureau has said that no such deaths due to hunger have been reported. It has asked people to refrain from spreading unverified news.
India Meteorological Department, IMD has said that Northwest and Central parts of the country continue to remain under the grip of heat wave conditions.
Talking to AIR News, Senior Scientist of the IMD, Dr K Sathi Devi said that Chandigrah, Rajashtan, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, East Madhya Pradesh, parts of Chhatisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand are expected to experience heat wave conditions for next two to three days. She said, these areas are likely to experience some rainfall activity from 29th of this month.
Now, Let us take a look at the weather forecast for tomorrow.
Northwest and Central parts of the country will continue to remain under the grip of heat wave conditions.
The National capital Delhi will witness minimum temperature sof 28 degrees Celsius and maximum 45 degree Celsius.
In Gilgit, the temperature will hover between 13 and 36 degrees Celsius. It will face mainly clear sky.
In Muzzafarabad, there will be a mainly clear sky becoming partly cloudy towards afternoon or evening. It will witness minimum temperatures of 19 degrees Celsius while maximum temperature will be around 39 degrees Celsius.
Rajasthan is under reel of scorching heat and severe heatwave conditions. Churu remains the hottest place in the state where temperature recorded 50 degree Celcius today. It is the second-highest temperature in the last 10 years.