Coronavirus Outbreak LATEST Updates: Senior leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday castigated the government on its coronavirus response, saying that new or higher taxes will impoverish families further.

Opposing Centre’s decision to impose higher tax burdens when economic activity has ground to a halt, the former finance minister said, “Governments should give money to the people in times of distress, not squeeze and take money from the people.”

After 296 fresh cases were registered in Delhi in the past 24 hours, the total confirmed cases in the National Capital rose to 5,104 on Wednesday, said Health Minister Satyendra Jain.

With 35 more individuals testing positive for the novel coronavirus in Rajasthan, the total confirmed cases in the state climbed to 3,193 on Wednesday, according to the health department.

While, another fatality due to COVID-19 took the toll to 90. The recovery rate stood at 48 percent after 1,536 patients were discharged.

Three BSF camps in Tripura’s Dhalai district were sealed and declared “containment zones” after 40 personnel including two children tested positive for COVID-19 since Saturday.

On Tuesday, 13 more BSF personnel including a mess worker at 138 batallion posted in Ambassa sub-division tested positive.

The state health department sealed the BSF camp at Jawaharnagar, Karina border outpost and BSF base at Gandacherra, where the cases were detected and declared areas within 3-km radius into containment zones.

As many as 14,182 COVID-19 patients have been discharged so far, thereby taking the recovery rate at 29% on Wednesday. While, the infectious disease has claimed the lives of 1,694 people across the nation with the mortality rate being at 3.3 percent.

India registered 49,391 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus on Wednesday with 1,694 COVID-19 deaths, according to the latest data released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Of the total, there are 33,514 active cases. The recovery rate across the nation stood at 29 percent after 14,182 were discharged.

An airlift operation will commence on Thursday with 64 flights bringing back close to 15,000 Indian nationals from 12 countries in the first week of the ambitious exercise to repatriate lakhs of people.

The operation, as foreign minister S Jaishankar said in a tweet, is titled ‘Vande Bharat Mission’.

The official handle of Aarogya Setu contact-tracing app, developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, asserted late on Tuesday that “no personal information of any user has been proven to be at risk”.

The reply from the team came in response to a tweet by Elliot Alderson, a French security researcher, earlier in the day, who claimed: “Hi @SetuAarogya, A security issue has been found in your app. The privacy of 90 million Indians is at stake. Can you contact me in private? Regards. PS: Rahul Gandhi was right.”

A clause limiting the government’s liability to user data for its Aarogya Setu contact tracing app has made some legal experts question whether, in case of unauthorised access to the information, a legal recourse would be the only option available, especially since the app has been made mandatory for a significant section of citizens.

According to the app’s terms and conditions, the user “agrees and acknowledges that the Government of India will not be liable for…any unauthorized access to your information or modification thereof.”

The nationwide tally of COVID-19 cases rose by a record 3,900 on Tuesday while deaths from the deadly coronavirus topped the 1,500-mark with nearly 200 more fatalities, even as the Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said “fighting coronavirus is no rocket science” and that “people may remember this pandemic as a blessing in disguise if they imbibe good hygiene practices”.

Vardhan told PTI that India has been able to stave off community transmission of COVID-19 and hoped that the “behavioural changes” brought about by the infection could become the “new normal” for a healthy society after the pandemic abates.

In its 5 pm official update on the COVID-19 situation in India, the Health Ministry said the death toll due to COVID-19 has risen to 1,583 with 194 fatalities reported since Monday evening, while the number of cases saw a big jump of 3,875 to reach 46,711.

However, a PTI tally of numbers reported by different states and Union territories till 6.30 pm showed more than 47,000 people testing positive for the virus so far, while it put the death toll at over 1,500. It also showed nearly 13,000 COVID-19 patients having recovered.

Representational image. AP

Tamil Nadu, Gujarat report huge spike in COVID-19 cases

Tamil Nadu reported 508 new cases on Tuesday, which took its tally past 4,000, while in Gujarat too, 441 more people tested positive for the novel coronavirus, taking its total to more than 6,200. Several other states also reported rising numbers.

Experts, however, said the peak of this deadly virus outbreak was yet to come and may be witnessed in India over the next 4-6 weeks, while another spurt might be seen later during the winter season.

The numbers suggested that more than one-third of the total confirmed cases across the country have been detected in the past one week, with only a few urban centres in a handful of states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi accounting for a bulk of it.

Govt to bring back Indians stranded abroad

Fears also emerged that India’s tally may increase further with the government announcing plans to bring back a large number of Indians from various countries, beginning on Wednesday.

PTI quoted sources as saying that over three lakh people have registered for the evacuation from the Gulf region itself.

While the absolute number of cases and the toll in India is lower than many others, with more than 2.5 lakh people having lost their lives and over 35 lakh having been infected worldwide ever since the emergence of this virus in China last December, the lockdown restrictions have been lifted in several countries and many of them are now reporting few or zero cases.

Government officials, however, maintained that India has managed to stave off a community transmission risk and the country remains in a “comfortable” position in terms of managing the COVID-19 crisis, though they cautioned against any laxity at the field level.

Meanwhile, scores of migrant workers, desperate to travel back to their native states amidst the coronavirus-induced lockdown, on Tuesday came out on streets in Ahmedabad and Surat in Gujarat, officials said.

While more than 1,000 migrant workers carrying luggage gathered in Nikol area in Ahmedabad following a rumour that buses would be run for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, several others came on streets in Varachha area of Surat city.

According to PTI, Gujarat has seen the maximum movement of migrant workers to their home states in about 35 shramik special trains, followed by Kerala from where 13 such trains have left.

Among the receiving states, Bihar has accepted 13 trains, with 11 more currently on the journey and six in the pipeline, the data shows.

Neighbouring Uttar Pradesh has received 10 such trains and five more are on their way, with 12 in the pipeline, the data shows.

The West Bengal government has, however, given clearance to only two trains — one each from Rajasthan and Kerala — and they are on their journeys to the state, the data shows.

Highest single-day jump in toll and cases

The Health Ministry said the country recorded a record single-day increase of 195 deaths and 3,900 cases between Monday 8 am and Tuesday 8 am. These included fatalities reported from West Bengal, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, among other places.

At the same time, the recovery rate has improved to 28.17 percent, health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said during a press briefing on the COVID-19 situation.

“We are very comfortable in terms of managing COVID-19 as of now, but any laxity at the field level or any lack of cooperation may have its consequences,” he warned. Agarwal also said that the delay in reporting of COVID-19 cases by certain states has led to the sudden spurt in figures.

The country’s top medical institute AIIMS’ Director Randeep Guleria, however, claimed that the COVID-19 curve has remained relatively flat so far, but cautioned that the continued rise in the number of cases at a steady rate is a cause of concern.

Different modelling experts have predicted that a peak in the number of cases of COVID-19 may occur in the next four to six weeks — that is by the end of May or the middle of June, Guleria said, while stressing on the need to remain extra vigilant and to make efforts to reduce the number of cases in the hotspots.

 

“However, the number of cases continue to rise at a steady rate and this is a cause of concern. Every citizen should understand his responsibility and sincerely follow the principles of lockdown and social distancing, especially if they are in hotspots or containment areas,” Guleria, a pulmonologist, said.

He also said that the country may see a rise in COVID-19 cases during the winter again.

Must do ‘balancing act’ between health, economy: Harsh Vardhan

 

The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) said in a report that India’s unemployment rate has soared to 27.11 percent amid the COVID-19 crisis, from below 7 percent in mid-March.

The Mumbai-based think tank said the rate of unemployment was the highest in the urban areas, which constitute the most number of the red zones due to the COVID-19 cases, at 29.22 percent, as against 26.69 percent for the rural areas.

Separately, Vardhan also underlined the importance of the nationwide lockdown, imposed since 24 March and scheduled to remain in place till 17 May, and said health should be on the radar just as much as the economy.

 

“The government has to do a balancing act,” Vardhan said on the need to focus on the health of people as well as on the economy.

He also said the nation, in a post-coronavirus future, could well look back on the pandemic period as a “blessing in disguise” if Indians imbibe hand, respiratory and environmental hygiene and practise it daily.

“By now we know that fighting coronavirus is no rocket science. If behavioural changes such as hand, environmental and respiratory hygiene, which are being practiced more rigorously during this period, get imbibed in society it will become the new normal,” Vardhan said.

Other than smallpox and polio, no other viral infection has been completely eradicated from this country. Other diseases keep recurring, the minister said, indicating that COVID-19 might be here for the long haul.

In the meantime, new cases that were detected on Tuesday included the serving and retired armed forces personnel in the Army’s Research and Referral hospital in the National Capital.

Authorities also sealed a floor of Shastri Bhavan, which houses several important ministries, after a senior official of the Law Ministry tested positive for the coronavirus. This was the second incident of a government building being partially cordoned off in the Lutyen’s Delhi within a week, after the NITI Aayog building in the high-security zone was sealed on 28 April for 48 hours after a director-level officer tested positive for the virus.

Before that, Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan, which houses the Civil Aviation Ministry, was sealed for sanitisation.

In other such incidents, the CRPF headquarters and a portion of the BSF headquarters were also sealed recently. These buildings are in CGO Complex in the national capital.

UK’s COVID-19 toll crosses Italy’s casualties

Britain on Tuesday became the first country in Europe to confirm more than 30,000 coronavirus deaths, and infections rose sharply again in Russia, even as other nations made great strides in containing the scourge. China marked its third week with no new reported deaths, while South Korea restarted its baseball season.

China and South Korea together reported only four cases on Tuesday, while Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand were among the countries having reported no cases for two consecutive days.

Also, focus seems to have shifted globally towards developing a vaccine with several world leaders committing more than $8 billion since Monday for this purpose.

In the US, some states took continued steps to lift the lockdown restrictions that have thrown millions out of work, even as the country recorded thousands of new infections and deaths every day.

Underscoring the stakes, New York state reported 1,700 more people died in nursing homes than it had previously counted.

The British government said about 28,700 people with COVID-19 had died in hospitals, nursing homes and other settings, while Italy reported close to 29,100 fatalities. Both figures are almost certainly underestimates because they include only people who tested positive, and testing was not widespread in Italian and British nursing homes until recently.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: May 06, 2020 11:39:34 IST

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