A 68-YEAR-OLD woman in Delhi became the country’s second victim of coronavirus on Friday as several states went into battle mode to contain the spread of COVID-19, shutting down schools, theatres and colleges, and many public events, including the IPL, were postponed.
The Union Health Ministry put the number of positive cases at 82, eight more since Thursday night, which includes the woman and a 76-year-old man from Karnataka who became the country’s first coronavirus fatality besides 17 foreign nationals, Health Ministry officials said.
Health Ministry and Delhi Government officials said that the woman came in contact with her son, the fifth case of coronavirus in the national capital, with a history travel history to Switzerland and Italy between February 5 and 22.
Her death was caused due to co-morbidity (diabetes and hypertension), they said, adding she had tested positive for COVID-19.
The woman was admitted in Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, officials said.
Cases of the infection have been reported from at least 11 States and territories, including Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala, where three patients were discharged last month after they recovered.
Taking stock of the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed a video conference of SAARC leaders to chalk out a joint strategy and set an example for the world.
“Our planet is battling the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. At various levels, Governments and people are trying their best to combat it,” Modi said on Twitter.
South Asia, which is home to a significant number of the global population, should leave no stone unturned to ensure that the people are healthy, he said.
His appeal got a prompt response from Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Ibrahim
Mohamed Solih, Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, Bhutanese premier Lotay Tshering, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Afghan government, all of whom welcomed the proposal. However, there was no immediate response from the Pakistan Government.
Addressing reporters, officials said coronavirus -- a pandemic that has infected 1,31,500 people in 116 countries and territories and killed more than 4,900 -- is not a health emergency and there is no need to panic. They said India has evacuated 1,031 people, including from Maldives, US, Madagascar and China.
The Centre has also decided to allow international traffic only through 19 border checkposts out of 37 and continue the suspension of Indo-Bangladesh cross border passenger trains and buses till April 15, or earlier, if so decided.
Officials disclosed that 42,000 people across the country are under community surveillance. Amid speculation over the ongoing Budget Session being shortened, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told PTI, “There is no question of curtailing the session.”
States such as Karnataka, Odisha, Delhi and Bihar went into virtual shutdown mode. A day after the country’s first coronavirus death was reported from Kalaburagi in the State, the Karnataka Government announced a lock-down of malls, cinema theatres, pubs and night clubs for a week.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa also issued instructions to stop all kinds of exhibitions, summer camps, conferences, marriage events and birthday parties.
“We will close all universities for a week in the entire state,” he told reporters.
Tech giant Google confirmed that an employee of its Bengaluru office, who had returned from Greece, was diagnosed with COVID-19. In Kalaburagi town, 46 people who were in direct contact with the 76-year old man who died on Tuesday night were placed under quarantine, district officials said, adding that 31 were categorised as “high risk” and 13 as “low risk”.
Four family members of the man have displayed flu symptoms and their swab samples have been sent for testing.
In Odisha, the Naveen Patnaik Government announced that educational institutions would be closed till March 31 but provided an exception for holding exams. He said that the Government has earmarked Rs 200 crore to combat the coronavirus threat and declared COVID-19 a “disaster”.
Non-essential official gatherings such as seminars, workshops and conferences are to be cancelled, Patnaik said. Social gatherings and assemblies like religious functions, marriage receptions and parties will be regulated by local authorities.
Cinema halls, swimming pools and gyms in the State will be closed as well.
Second batch of 44 Indian pilgrims arrives from Iran: SECOND batch of 44 Indian pilgrims has arrived from Iran, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said. An Iran Air flight carrying Indian pilgrims stranded in coronavirus-hit Iran landed at the airport in Mumbai on Friday afternoon, an official said.
Iran is one of the worst-affected countries by the coronavirus outbreak and the Government has been working on plans to bring back the Indians stranded there. “Second batch of 44 Indian pilgrims has arrived today from #Iran. Our efforts to bring back the others continue. @India_in_Iran and our medical team - keep up the good work. Appreciate the support of Iranian authorities and their airlines,” Jaishankar said in a tweet.