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Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has sealed city borders for a week; only those involved in essential services and with government passes will be allowed to cross. Mr Kejriwal, who last week said Delhi was "four steps ahead of the coronavirus", said that while the increase in cases was a concern, residents of the capital should not panic. The Chief Minister has repeatedly told the people they must "learn to live with the coronavirus" for a while.
Mr Kejriwal has also announced revised lockdown guidelines for Delhi, under which barbershops and salons may open but spas and shopping malls will remain shut. Market complexes may open without adhering to the odd-even rule and two-wheelers can have pillion riders. Buses can run with a maximum of 20 passengers and restaurants may open for home delivery and takeaway services only. Delhi Metro and places of worship will remain shut for now.
On Tuesday morning Mizoram, which was so far the only state without an active COVID-19 case, reported a cluster of 12 infections. Chief Minister Zoramthanga tweeted: "12 new COVID-19 positive cases confirmed at Zoram Medical College. All are under professional care". The northeastern state has already extended the lockdown to June 30 amid the return of a large number of people stranded in other states.
Farmers will get between 50 and 83 per cent more returns on sale of any one or more of 14 crops, the Union Cabinet said on Monday, as it approved a minimum support price. The meeting also cleared a Rs 20,000-crore debt scheme to help nearly two lakh MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) and approved a further fund of Rs 50,000 crore to encourage investment.
The Railways began operating the first of over 200 passenger trains on Monday. These include trains with both AC and non-AC coaches and are distinct from the 15 pairs of special passenger trains announced last month and the "shramik" specials returning stranded migrants to home states. According to the Railways, 1.45 lakh people travelled yesterday, with around 26 lakh having booked tickets for travel in June.
Airlines must try and keep middle seats on all flights vacant, aviation regulator DGCA (Director General Civil Aviation) said Monday. If this is not possible, then passengers in such seats must be given "wrap-around gowns", the agency added. The government had earlier said it may not be viable to keep middle seats empty as fares would then jump. One-third of domestic flights were re-started last month as part of the government's plan to "project normalcy on the ground" and unlock the economy in a phased manner.
Elections for 18 Rajya Sabha seats will be held this month, the Election Commission has said. These were to be held in March but were deferred after the coronavirus lockdown. Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat (four seats), Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan (three), Jharkhand (two) and Meghalaya and Manipur (one each) will vote from 9 AM on June 19.
On Monday American biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences Inc. reported that its antiviral drug Remdesivir provided a modest benefit in patients with moderate infections given a five-day course of the treatment, while those who received the medicine for 10 days in the study did not fare as well. Administered intravenously in hospital, Remdesivir is the first drug to show improvement in COVID-19 patients in formal clinical trials.
Top scientists, health officials and the WHO (World Health Organisation) have countered claims made by a leading Italian doctor who said the novel coronavirus "no longer exists" in his country.
A senior WHO doctor told journalists: "We need to be careful. This is still a killer virus". Italy was the European epicentre of the pandemic and has over 2.3 lakh cases so far; of which 41,367 are active cases. 33,475 deaths have been linked to the virus.
With input from AFP, Reuters