India saw the biggest single-day spike in the number of coronavirus patients with 4,213 new cases and 97 deaths in 24 hours, taking the total to 67,152 cases, the Union Health Ministry said today, adding that the death toll rose to 2,206. The figures come as India enters the last week of the 54-day coronavirus lockdown, with the Railways on Sunday saying 15 air-conditioned special trains will operate from May 12.

Sources in the union government said the focus of the prime minister’s meeting would be on boosting economic activities and pushing efforts to convert ‘red’ zones with high COVID-19 case load into ‘orange’ or ‘green’ zones. The Union Health ministry on May 1 classified 733 districts as 130 in the red zone, 284 in the orange zone and 319 in the green zone, taking into consideration incidence of cases, doubling rate, extent of testing and surveillance feedback.

Meanwhile, in a bid to ferry more migrants, the Railways today decided to carry around 1,700 passengers on board its ‘Shramik Special’ trains instead of the current 1,200. According to an order issued, the railway zones have also been asked to provide three stoppages in the destination state other than the final stop, at the request of the state governments. It also said that the train capacity should be equal to the number of sleeper berths on the train.

The ‘Shramik Special’ trains has 24 coaches with a capacity to carry 72 passengers in each coach. Currently, these trains are running with 54 passengers in each coach due to social distancing norms. So far, the Indian Railways has ferried over 5 lakh passengers since May 1.

“The Railways has a capacity to run 300 trains per day and we want to maximise it. We want to carry as many migrants home as possible over the next few days and have appealed to states to send approvals,” said a senior official explaining the move.

Announcing the phased resumption of passenger services that was suspended from the first day of the lockdown on March 25, the Railways said in a statement that air-conditioned services will initially begin with 15 pairs of trains(30 return journeys) on Rajdhani routes and the fare would be equivalent to that of the super-fast train.

The special trains will run from New Delhi to Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Mumbai Central, Ahmedabad and Jammu Tawi. Passengers have been asked to reached the railway stations at least one hour early before the train’s departure.

Booking for reservation in these trains will start at 4pm today and will be available only on the IRCTC website.



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