The COVID-19 outbreak which began at a market in China's Wuhan district in December last year has spread throughout the world. There are 107 confirmed cases in India. India has also started evacuating its citizens from other countries after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and said that Europe is the new epicentre of the lethal virus. A special Air India flight carrying 211 Indian students, who were stuck in Italy after flights were cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak, departed for India today. The flight which took off from Milan also has seven compassionate cases.
The Indian government has announced various internal measures to combat the outbreak. Various state governments have also reacted by shutting down public spaces such as malls and cinema theatres, as well as closing schools and colleges.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take part in a video conference with other SAARC nations at 5 pm on Sunday to evolve a joint strategy to fight the novel coronavirus that has killed more than 5,000 people worldwide and infected 1.3 lakh others.
Here are highlights on coronavirus outbreak:
he Jammu and Kashmir administration on Sunday said 2,157 people -- travellers and persons in contact with suspected coronavirus cases -- have been put under surveillance in the union territory.
Individuals and Resident Welfare Associations in Noida and Greater Noida can make use of a dedicated email id and a 24x7 telephonic helpline for their queries related to preventing the spread of coronavirus or to inform the administration about the steps they are taking for the same, officials said on Sunday. The Gautam Buddh Nagar administration has launched a dedicated email id - firstname.lastname@example.org - a day after opening a similar 24-hour telephonic helpline - 0120 2569 901 - to respond to queries related to the contagious novel virus threat, the officials said.
The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board on Sunday issued an advisory asking non-resident Indians and foreigners to not visit the temple for 28 days after landing in India in the wake of the coronavirus threat. It also advised domestic pilgrims, having symptoms like cough, heavy fever and breathing problems, to reschedule or postpone their visit to the holy shrine.
An open-air security check facility was set up by the CISF on the tarmac of the Delhi airport to screen passengers arriving from coronavirus-affected countries, officials said on Sunday. The security station is equipped with hand-held detectors, baggage screening x-ray machines and door-frame metal detectors to frisk passengers who are being brought to the Indira Gandhi International Airport while on their way to the quarantine centres in other cities.
A day before the floor trust in Madhya Pradesh Assembly, a senior minister in the Kamal Nath government sought coronavirus tests on his party MLAs who have returned from Jaipur as well as those currently holed up in Haryana and Bengaluru. "The MLAs who have returned from Jaipur and also those who have gone to Haryana and Benguluru should undergo coronavirus tests. It is important as the virus has spread in Jaipur and Haryana," Madhya Pradesh Public Relations Minister PC Sharma said.
Six cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the state, including one death, Karnataka government said. "Till date six COVID-19 cases have been reported in the state including one death. The 5 coronavirus positive cases are in isolation at the designated hospital in Bengaluru," the Karnataka government said on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Health Department of Karnataka on Sunday said that all the family members and other contacts of the 76-year-old man who died of coronavirus in Kalaburagi are being monitored closely.
Bengaluru's civic body has limited gatherings at marriage functions to 100 people in order to curb the spread of coronavirus.
A circular issued by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) dated March 15 said, "All marriage functions pre-booked in marriage halls, hotels, Party places, etc. prior to the issue of circular dated March 13, shall be allowed to be conducted subject to the condition that the gathering in the function not exceeding 100 persons."
"The above relaxation is an exception in consideration of the difficulties in rescheduling and cancelling the marriage event immediately," the circular said.
It said, "The Owners/Management of such locations where Marriages are to be solemnized due to pre-booking shall maintain high standards of sanitation and hygiene by periodically cleaning by 10 per cent Sodium Hydrochlorite Solution or any other effective disinfectant the surfaces, floors and exposed areas likely to be touched by the attendants."
"Any person attending the function having any such symptoms like Cough, Cold, and Fever etc. shall be requested for immediately leaving the Programmes," it said.
The civic body further said in the circular, "No fresh bookings of any place for Marriage programme are permitted till further orders. Any bookings on future dates by any organizer, event manager, owner of such property or any other person will be at his own risk and action will be taken against the property or any other person for any kind of bookings before an Order allowing such bookings is issued by a Competent Authority."
"The restrictions imposed are in the absolute interest of Public Health for preventing the Community Spread and outbreak of the disease at mass scale. All other restrictions imposed by order dated March 13 shall stand the same," the Circular added.
The samples from a 71-year-old man who died on Saturday while under quarantine in Maharashtra's Buldhana for suspected exposure to novel coronavirus have returned negative, a health official said on Sunday. It was feared earlier that the septuagenarian became the first victim of COVID-19 in the state, which has reported 32 confirmed cases as on Sunday. The man, with a history of diabetes and high blood pressure, had returned from the United Arab Emirates some days ago, an official said. "He was admitted in Buldhana general hospital, where he died on Saturday. His sample, which was sent to Nagpur for testing, has returned negative," Civil Surgeon Premchand Pandit told PTI.
India has made special efforts to reach out to groups vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus and worked to quickly ramp up capacity in the system including through training of medical staff, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today during his telephonic conversation with members of the SAARC nations.
Kerala government's plush Tea County resort at Munnar on Sunday was ordered to be closed down by district authorities after a British tourist who stayed there tested positive for coronavirus.
The decision to close down the resort was taken soon after the state Electricity Minister MM Mani, who hails from the district, held a high level meeting.
A group of foreign tourists including the coronavirus positive British national was stopped from flying to Dubai at Cochin airport on Sunday.
Following this the flight was kept at the runway and after the health authorities conducted a complete health check up of the other passengers, it left for Dubai at 12.50 pm, but the entire 19 member foreign tour party was deboarded.
"The British national test results came last night and it was positive. Soon after this when the health authorities arrived to take the British national to the hospital, they found out, he along with the others had left. They were later traced to the Cochin airport," said State Health Minister KK Shailaja.
The British national who turned positive and his wife are now lodged at the state owned Medical College hospital at Kochi, while the others in the group are put up in isolation at a different place.
Meanwhile, the staff at the resort that has been now closed expressed their displeasure that they were not advised properly. Following the closure of the resort, all of them have been kept under medical observation.
The authorities are mulling to take legal action against the British national for violating the Public Health Act and also against the manager of the hotel and the travel agent who coordinated the tour programme and allegedly took the tourists to the airport.
The Delhi government has ordered all mini buses to be disinfected daily in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the city, reported PTI. The government had recently also ordered concerned agencies to disinfect all DTC and cluster buses in the wake of the outbreak of the virus. The transport department has issued an order directing the owners of mini buses plying in the national capital to wash and disinfect their vehicles every day. "In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, all the permit holders and owners of mini buses plying in Delhi on STA (State Transport Authority) permit are directed to wash and disinfect their buses on daily basis," the order stated. It added that cleaning and disinfection on daily basis are in the interest of passengers and staff deployed in these mini buses.
A total of 218 Indians, mostly students, brought here from Italy today have been taken to an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) quarantine facility in south-west Delhi's Chhawla area, officials said.
The Air India flight from Milan landed around 9.45 am at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA).
Out of the total Indian nationals in this group, 211 are students.
"All the 218 evacuees from Milan are being taken to our quarantine facility in south west Delhi's Chhawla area. They will be there for over a fortnight as per quarantine procedures," an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) spokesperson said.
The facility has earlier catered to two such batches of Indians and foreigners, evacuated from Wuhan in China, totalling 518 people.
The ITBP centre, like in the past, will have a dedicated team of doctors, para-medics and other staff apart from providing food, medical testing and indoor entertainment facility to the inmates, the spokesperson said.
The coronavirus outbreak, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday, has led to more than 5,000 deaths globally.
Amid coronavirus outbreak, the demand for face masks and sanitisers has increased in Ahmedabad. However, manufacturers and distributors have stated that the supply of these essential commodities is enough to meet the present demand.
A mask manufacturer Chirag Kabra said, "There is a sudden surge in demand for masks and thankfully the supply is enough to meet the customers' demands. We are right now making enough and so are other units."
"Though we have reduced the discount percentage as the raw material is a bit costly now," he added.
With increase in number of coronavirus cases, the Kerala government today launched intensified medical check up at border areas for people entering the state by rail and road.
The government has identified 24 spots in border areas that Kerala share with Tamil Nadu and Karnataka and multiple teams each headed by a Deputy Superintendent of Police began the checking of vehicles coming into the state.
With a UK national testing positive on Sunday, the number of COVID-19 cases in the state has risen to 20 and as many as 302 people are in isolation wards of various hospitals across the state.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had yesterday said a set of volunteers will be enrolled to assist the health department and they would be given special training by the officials for screening people in the border areas.
Police began closing off access to the Philippines' sprawling and densely populated capital Manila on Sunday, imposing a quarantine that officials hope will curb the nation's rising number of coronavirus cases.
Officers in military fatigues and armed with rifles blocked off main roads into the city of some 12 million as domestic flights to and from Manila were halted early Sunday for a month-long isolation of the capital.
Mass gatherings and school at all levels have also been called off, but delays and exceptions have led public health experts to question how effective President Rodrigo Duterte's measures will be.
Striking steps were also being taken elsewhere in the county, with one church in the central Philippines deciding to hold its Sunday service with worshippers separated by yellow barricade tape.
The tape crisscrossed the pews so that no two worshippers could sit next to each other.
Though the Philippines has detected a fraction of the infections seen in hot spots such as China and Italy, its confirmed cases nearly doubled in recent days to 111, with eight deaths.
"We are sorry for the inconvenience, but we have orders to follow," said police corporal Meljayric Sajonia at a checkpoint on the southern edge of the capital.
Uttarakhand government has banned mass gatherings, including seminars and protests, in the state amid coronavirus outbreak, informed state minister Madan Kaushik today.
All government and private programmes have been banned for a month and the district magistrates have been authorised to take action if anyone is caught violating the orders.
The state government has already declared coronavirus an epidemic and has passed an order that all cinema halls and colleges will remain closed in the state till March 31. Medical colleges, however, will remain open.
The number of COVID-19 positive cases has gone up to 107 in the country.
Coronavirus, which originated in China's Wuhan city in December last year, has so far spread to more than 100 countries, infecting over 1,30,000 people. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared coronavirus a pandemic
In the backdrop of coronavirus pandemic, the general administration department has issued the order for assigning duties to both class C and D employees of the state government on alternate days.
Except for the state health department, all department heads have been directed to form rosters and assign alternative working shifts to the employees of the Bihar government.
"All department heads to ensure that large gatherings of employees are avoided. Class C and D employees of the state government are to be assigned alternate working shifts," read the order from Patna District Magistrate citing the general administration department order.
The number of coronavirus cases in India has crossed 100, informed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare today.
So far, two deaths due to the lethal infection have been reported in the country.
As the battle against coronavirus intensifies, the railway authorities in Mumbai have started disinfecting local trains, which carry around 80 lakh suburban commuters everyday, as well as long distance trains.
According to the Central Railway (CR), all the coach fittings, including grab handles, door handles, door latches, entry doors, window grills, electric switches and other parts inside local trains as well as outstation trains are being cleaned using disinfectants.
"In order to ensure cleanliness and hygiene, especially in view of the Covid-19 advisory, special efforts are being put in during primary maintenance of coaches at the coaching depots of CR," an official statement said.
The CR officials said that they were also focusing on cleanliness of outstation trains. An intensive cleaning and disinfection of toilets is also being ensured, they said.
The railway authorities said that on board cleaning staff has been counselled for frequent en-route cleaning in coaches. Topping up of liquid handwash soap on board is also being ensured in outstation trains.
Assam Chief Secretary Kumar Sanjay Krishna, addressing a press conference here said, "Even though no positive case has been detected in the state so far, we are taking all precautionary measures."
He said barring board examinations, all exams scheduled till the specified date have been cancelled.
"All programmes scheduled at government auditoriums have also been cancelled. We hope those owned by private firms will also follow," he said.
The chief secretary said all the deputy commissioners have been asked to discourage any public gathering in their districts.
He said the state government is fully equipped to handle any crisis arising out of the pandemic.
An Indian national, who returned to the UAE after a holiday abroad, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to media reports. The country so far has 85 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) on Saturday confirmed that the Indian national has tested positive for the disease, the Khaleej Times reported.
"The public is also advised to adopt protective health behaviour to avoid infectious diseases, including washing their hands with soap and clean water, and covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to stop the spread of germs and viruses," it said.
The Afghanistan government has detected five more positive coronavirus cases, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 16, a health official said today.
According to the spokesman for Public Health Ministry, Wahid Mayar, four new positive cases of the disease have been detected in Herat and another one in the central Daikundi province, reports Xinhua news agency.
The first positive case in Afghanistan was detected in Herat bordering Iran weeks ago and so far 10 positive cases of the disease have been confirmed in the province, according to Mayar.
According to the officials, the number of suspected cases has been on rise and so far 206 suspected patientins have been tested across Afghanistan.
The majority of those carrying the killing virus have returned from Iran, a neighbouring country that has been hosting more than two million Afghan refugees, according to health officials.
Holidays declared for up to class five in all schools in Tamil Nadu till March 31 as part of preventive measures for coronavirus, says government.
With 14 new positive cases of coronavirus, India's tally has reached 107, informed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare today.
The victims include foreign nationals, the centre has further stated.
Notably, a couple of states such as Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Haryana have shut down schools and colleges in order to contain the spread of the deadly virus.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the practice of issuing visitor passes to attend Parliament proceedings has suspended till further orders.
A notification signed by Lok Sabha secretary general Snehlata Shrivastava read that the practice has been suspended in view of rising concerns over the spread of COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus.
"Accordingly, Members are requested not to recommend issue of Public Gallery passes and/or tender request(s) for Showground of Parliament House Complex. Kind cooperation of the Members is solicited," the notification read.
The confirmed cases in India have gone up to 107 and, as per data from the World Health Organization, there are 126 cases in the SAARC region; Pakistan has 20 COVID-19 cases.
An Uzbek citizen has tested positive for coronavirus after returning from France, Uzbekistan's Healthcare Ministry said on Sunday, marking the first infection from the virus in the Central Asian country of 34 million.
It said it was taking the necessary measures to prevent the spread of the virus.Uzbekistan's state airline said on Sunday it was suspending or curbing flights to a number of cities in Western Europe, Asia and the Middle East until the end of April.
Thailand reported 32 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total infections in the Southeast Asian country to 114, health officials said.
It was the biggest daily jump in cases in Thailand, which was one of the first countries outside China to report coronavirus infections that has since swept much of the world.
The Vatican said on Sunday that its traditional Easter week celebrations would be held this year without worshippers due to the coronavirus outbreak.
"Because of the current global public health emergency, all the liturgical celebrations of Holy Week will take place without the physical presence of the faithful," the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household said in a statement.
Amid growing coronavirus cases, the Karnataka government today postponed examinations of class 7, 8 and 9 till March 31, 2020.
The revised dates for examinations will be announced after reviewing the situation. The directive was issued by state education minister S Suresh Kumar today morning.
On Friday, the government had shut all educational institutions, malls, and clubs for a week.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa had said no one should travel unless it is an emergency.
"All malls, cinema halls, pubs, wedding ceremonies and other large gatherings in the Karnataka have been banned for another one week," Mr Yediyurappa said.
In the backdrop of coronavirus pandemic, Mumbai Police today issued orders prohibiting any kind of tour involving a group of people travelling together to foreign or domestic destination organized by private tour operators or otherwise.
"Police has issued an order prohibiting the conduct of any kind of tour involving a group of people travelling together to foreign or domestic destination organized by private tour operators or otherwise. However, should anyone, including private tour operators, need to travel under exceptional circumstances, they may do so after seeking permission from the office of the Commissioner of Police, Greater Mumbai," read the order.
Notably, the number of coronavirus cases in the country has reached 93, informed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare today. The Central government on Saturday decided to treat the deadly virus as a "notified disaster".
In the wake of coronavirus pandemic, the Andhra Pradesh local body elections have been postponed for six weeks.
According to the State Election Commissioner, N Ramesh Kumar, the new dates for the Andhra Pradesh local body polls will be finalised after normalcy is restored in the state.
Asserting that the decision had been taken after a high-level review of the situation, Kumar also mentioned that the process of election will not be cancelled.Notably, the number of coronavirus cases in the country has gone up to 93, informed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare today.
The Uttarakhand government has declared novel coronavirus an epidemic and shut all multiplexes, cinema halls, degree colleges and technical institutes across the state till March 31, official sources said.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the state council of ministers in Dehradun late last night.
However, medical colleges will remain open, they said.
Under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, the centre has authorised state governments to take preventive measures to control the spread of coronavirus, state government spokesperson and Urban Development Minister Madan Kaushik said.
The state government has the authority under the act to close any school, college or theatre in case it feels they may pose a threat to public health, he said.
There has been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state.
A total of 117 people with novel coronavirus-like symptoms have been put in home isolation in Mizoram, a senior health official said today.
Though Mizoram has not yet reported any positive case of coronavirus, 117 people have been home quarantined as a precautionary measure, Health department principal director F Lallianhlira.
"Even though no positive case has been reported, we have to remain alert," he said.
Mr Lallianhlira said all sections of the society must make efforts to prevent the spread of the disease in the state.
The state health department on Saturday conducted an awareness drive on precautions that are needed to be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The state government has clamped Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) along the state's international borders with Myanmar and Bangladesh to prevent the entry of people from the neighbouring countries.
British tourist who tested positive for coronavirus had boarded a Dubai bound flight in Kerala's Kochi. The airport authorities offloaded all 270 passengers whoever was in the plane after the incident came to light.
El Salvador's congress has declared a state of emergency and approved a partial suspension of the country's constitution to tackle the coronavirus epidemic.
The measures include a restriction on free movement and assembly for a period of 30 days, allowing health officials to ban public gatherings.
"We have given the government legal mechanisms to deal with this serious health situation," congressional president Mario Ponce said after Saturday's vote.
El Salvador has yet to record a confirmed case of the COVID-19 outbreak.
On Wednesday the country banned entry to all foreigners for three weeks and imposed mandatory 30-day quarantines for citizens returning from abroad.
President Nayib Bukele also suspended school and university classes nationwide.
With coronavirus cases increasing in India, the Delhi Police has extended quarantine facilities at its Jharoda Kalan and Wazirabad training centres.
"Delhi Police has extended Quarantine Facilities at two of its training centres, located at Jharoda Kalan and Wazirabad," a tweet by the official handle of the police on Sunday read.
Currently, two quarantine facilities by Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) are operational in Manesar and Chhawla respectively in the NCR.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases in India has risen to 93, informed Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Sunday.
So far, two deaths due to the lethal infection have been reported in the country.
Prisoners in Uttar Pradesh jails are now manufacturing masks to check the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), in the jails.
The Mathura jail plans to distribute over 500 masks manufactured by inmates of Mathura jail among other prisoners across the state. The masks were manufactured by the inmates on Saturday and Sunday.
Director general of prisons Anand Kumar said 55 of the 71 jails in state have the facility to manufacture masks designed as per recommendations of government doctors. "In the remaining 16 prisons which do not have the required manufacturing set-up, we have asked jailers to arrange for masks from outside and then distribute it among inmates," he said.
District prisons in Barabanki, Ghaziabad, Firozabad and Gautam Buddha Nagar have also started manufacturing masks.
Last week, jailors in 71 prisons were directed to install hand sanitizer dispensers on premises and distribute additional soaps among inmates. They were also asked to ensure that they maintain a distance of at least one metre while interacting with each other.
He also said that though wearing a mask was not a foolproof way of checking the spread of virus, it is instrumental in maintaining hygiene.
Central American countries took further and tougher steps to contain the fast-spreading coronavirus on Saturday with measures ranging from bans on large gatherings to travel restrictions.
El Salvador's Congress approved a series of emergency measures sought by President Nayib Bukele to prevent the spread of the virus and to fend off the risk of a public health crisis.
The measures include restrictions on entry to and exit from El Salvador, as well as curbs on public gatherings. El Salvador has so far not reported any cases of coronavirus.
Earlier, Honduras and Guatemala banned public gatherings to prevent the virus from spreading as quickly as it has in Asian and European countries. Panama had already banned large gatherings.
Meanwhile, authorities in Panama said flights arriving from Europe and Asia would be temporarily suspended, with the exception of flights that transport doctors, medical equipment or other humanitarian aid.
So far, more than 150,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus across the world and over 5,500 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
At a time when many pharmacies are charging exorbitant prices for the face masks and hand sanitisers in the backdrop of high demand due to the coronavirus pandemic, a surgical shop owner in Kochi is selling masks just for Rs 2.
The supplies of masks and sanitisers have been limited and are being sold at higher prices than normal due to inflated demand following a surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
However, the surgical store in Kerala has decided to stick to the original costing and has so far sold over 5000 masks in the last two days.
Nadheem, the co-owner of a surgical shop in Kochi, told ANI: "We have sold around 5000 masks at Rs 2 each in two days. We decided to sell masks at a reasonable price especially to the common people like hospital staff and students."
Pilgrimage and registration for Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan will be suspended beginning Sunday midnight in view of the Coronavirus outbreak, the Home Ministry said.
The government has also suspended movement of all types of passengers through international border points with Pakistan from hours of March 16 in view of the threat from coronavirus.
"In wake of COVID19 India outbreak, as a precautionary measure to contain and control spread of the disease, the travel and registration for Sri Kartarpur Sahib is temporarily suspended from hours on March 16, 2020, till further orders," a home ministry spokesperson said.
A total of twelve people have tested positive for coronavirus in the state so far.
Out of these 12 people, seven are from Agra, two from Ghaziabad, one from Noida and two from Lucknow, informed the Directorate of Health Services, Uttar Pradesh.
The state government has shut down schools till March 22, to prevent the spread of the virus.
So far, 93 confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in the country. The coronavirus disease was first detected in Wuhan in China's Hubei province, in late December, and has since spread worldwide.
As per the World Health Organization, as of 14th March, at least 5393 people have died and 142, 539 people have tested positive for the virus globally.
Australia on Sunday announced anyone arriving into the country will face mandatory 14-day self-isolation, in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
"We are going to have to get used to some changes in the way we live our lives," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, adding the measure will come into effect from midnight.
Scott Morrison also said all cruise ships will be banned entirely and that he expects "visitor traffic will dry up very very very quickly."
"If your mate has been to Bali and they come back and they turn up at work and they are sitting next to you, well they will be committing an offence," Morrison said.
Australia has detected 269 cases of the COVID-19 virus so far, with a large number of new cases now coming from the United States, Morrison said, describing the country as a "major source".
Begona Gomez, the wife of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, his office has confirmed.
Both Begona Gomez and Pedro Sanchez are in good condition and are following the preventive measures recommended by health authorities, Xinhua news agency quoted the office as saying in a statement late Saturday night.
The news came just three hours after Pedro Sanchez approved the imposition of a State of Alarm in Spain for the next 15 days, with shops (except those selling "essential goods"), bars, restaurants, cinemas, schools and universities all closed and travel restrictions imposed on the whole population.
The Spanish military has also been mobilized to help deal with the coronavirus crisis and to assure essential supplies, while intercity trains and buses have seen their services reduced by 50 per cent as the number of confirmed cases in Spain has spiralled to over 6,300.
Amid controversy over the cremation of a 68-year-old woman who died in Delhi after being infected with the coronavirus, the Union Health Ministry has started working on framing guidelines for handling the bodies of those who die of the disease.
Though it is unlikely that coronavirus infection could spread from handling of a body, the guidelines are being drafted to dispel any misconception and raise awareness regarding spread of the disease from a deceased, a health ministry official said.
"Coronavirus infection is a respiratory disease which spreads through droplets and the probability of mortuary or disposal staff contracting the virus from the dead is unlikely as against the case of high-risk pathogens like Ebola and Nipah which have very high chances of spreading through direct contact with body-fluids of the deceased," the health ministry official said.
The number of novel coronavirus cases in the country rose to 93 on Sunday, which includes two persons who died in Delhi and Karnataka, the Union Health Ministry said.
While a 76-year-old man from Kalaburagi who had recently returned from Saudi Arabia died on Thursday, a 68-year-old woman in Delhi who had tested positive for coronavirus passed away at the Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital on Friday night.
Delhi has reported seven positive cases and Uttar Pradesh 11 so far. Karnataka has six coronavirus patients while Maharashtra 19, Ladakh three and Jammu and Kashmir 2.
Besides, Rajasthan also reported two cases. Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab have reported one case each.
Kerala has recorded 22 cases, including three patients who were discharged last month after they recovered from the contagious infection with flu-like symptoms.
The total number of 93 confirmed cases includes 17 foreigners - 16 Italian tourists and a Canadian, the ministry officials said.
The central banks of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, the two largest Arab economies, on Saturday announced stimulus plans worth a combined $40 billion to ease the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in their respective countries.
The UAE regulator plans to support banks and businesses in the country, where the outbreak is affecting major economic sectors such as tourism and transport, with a 100 billion dirham ($27 billion) economic plan, it said on Saturday.
In a separate statement, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority said it had prepared a 50 billion riyal (10.9 billion pounds) package to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) cope with the economic impacts of coronavirus.
The disease has so far infected 85 people in the UAE and 105 in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia, which has already suspended the Umrah pilgrimage and locked down its eastern Qatif region where many infections are located, plans to halt all international flights for two weeks from Sunday.
The UAE central bank said it will provide 50 billion dirhams through collateralised loans at zero cost to all banks operating in the UAE while an additional 50 billion dirhams will be freed up from lenders' capital buffers.
With the number of coronavirus positive cases shooting to 31, Maharashtra has emerged as the worst-hit state by the global pandemic in the country.
Five new cases were detected in Pimpri-Chinchwad in Pune district, late on Saturday night, a health official said.
In a related development, three coronavirus suspected cases who had fled from the isolation ward in the Ahmednagar Civil Hospital on Saturday, returned to the facility early on Sunday.
Similarly, three out of four coronavirus suspects who ran away from the Mayo Hospital in Nagpur have also returned, and efforts on to trace the fourth.
Maharashtra has gone into a shutdown mode with closure of all schools, colleges, malls, swimming pools, gym and fitness centers, public places, cancellation of all public events, religious processions, etc., till March 31 as a precaution.
South Korea on Sunday reported 76 new coronavirus cases and three more deaths, a fall in new cases to double-digits for the first time in over three weeks.
South Korea, which has the highest number of cases in Asia after China, now has a total to 8,162 confirmed infections and 75 deaths, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said (KCDC).
South Korea has been experiencing a downward trend in new cases and the latest numbers are significantly lower than the peak of 909 cases reported on February 29 and down from the 107 recorded on Saturday.
Forty-one of the new cases were from the city of Daegu, the epicentre of the country's outbreak.
Starting Sunday, South Korea began to subject visitors from France, Germany, Britain, Spain and the Netherlands to stricter border checks, after imposing similar rules for China, Italy and Iran suffering a major outbreak.
Apart from measuring temperature at the airport, visitors from those countries now need to download an app the South Korean government rolled out to report whether they have any symptoms related to the virus everyday.
South Korea has been testing hundreds of thousands of people and tracking potential carriers like detectives, using cell phone and satellite technology.
A special Air India aircraft carrying 211 Indian students and seven compassionate cases, who were stuck in Italy after flights were cancelled due to the coronavirus, outbreak arrived in India this morning.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has tweeted saying that 234 Indians stranded in Iran arrived in India today along with 131 students and 103 pilgrims.
American Airlines Group Inc on Saturday said it will implement a phased suspension of nearly all long-haul international flights starting March 16, amid reduced demand and travel restrictions due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Between March 16 and May 6, American will reduce its international capacity by 75% on a year-over-year basis, it said in a statement, adding the changes will result in the airline parking nearly its entire widebody fleet.
The airline also anticipates its domestic capacity in April will be reduced by 20% on a year-over-year basis. Domestic capacity for the month of May will be reduced by 30%, the company added.
The number of coronavirus infections in Japan rose to 1,484 on Sunday, increasing by a faster pace than the previous day, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The total number of infections includes 697 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship and 14 returnees on charter flights from China, according to NHK data.
Deaths in the country related to the virus stand at 29, up one from the previous day. The total number of deaths include 7 from the cruise ship.
Austria is making $4.4 billion immediately available to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, the conservative-led government said on Saturday as it ditched a central pledge to balance its budget.
The government is ready to provide more financial resources to keep companies afloat, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.
Austria has closed its borders to most arrivals from neighbouring Switzerland and Italy because of the coronavirus outbreaks there and is in the process of implementing measures to slow the disease's spread, shutting schools and most shops other than those selling food and medicine from Monday.
Chile has quarantined more than 1,300 people aboard two cruise ships after an elderly Briton aboard one of them tested positive for the coronavirus, the health ministry announced Saturday.
Both ships are cruising the Chilean fjords in Patagonia.
The 85-year-old man showed symptoms of the virus after getting off the Silver Explorer ship in the far southern port of Caleta Tortel, 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles) from Santiago.
The man was later transferred to a hospital in the city of Coyhaique where he tested positive for the virus.
"The ship is in quarantine off the port of Castro. The British citizen is in good condition but has tested positive for coronavirus," Health Minister Jaime Manalich told a press conference.
The other ship, the Azmara Pursuit - with 665 passengers and nearly 400 crew - had earlier crossed into Chilean waters from the southern Argentine port of Ushuaia.
The ship is on a 21-day cruise from Buenos Aires to Callao in Peru, just beside Lima.
Jaime Manalich said it was currently near the port of Chacabuco after authorities banned it from landing passengers there, on grounds that it was carrying suspected cases of the coronavirus.
French authorities were on Saturday trying to arrange emergency flights from Morocco to bring back dozens of French nationals who were unable to leave after the North African nation suspended flights to European countries over coronavirus fears.
Morocco, which so far has 18 cases of the virus including a minister, has suspended all soccer matches, closed schools, halted flights with 30 countries and cancelled gatherings of more than 50 people.
French television stations and social media showed hundreds of people at Marrakesh airport with no flights available and nowhere to go.
France's ambassador to Morocco, Helene Le Gal, said on Twitter that the embassy had received some 5,000 calls in the last 24 hours.
The French embassy in Rabat declined to comment, but Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he had spoken to his Moroccan counterpart and hoped that flights would be arranged soon.
Mainland China had 20 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections on March 14, the country's National Health Commission said on Sunday, up from 11 cases a day earlier.
That brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 80,844.
The death count from the outbreak in mainland China had reached 3,199 as of the end of Saturday, up by 10 from the previous day.
Greece said on Saturday it banned all flights that were still operating to and from Italy, after reporting two more fatalities from the coronavirus, raising the total number of deaths in the country to three.
Greece has shut schools, bars, cafes and shopping malls and has already suspended all flights to and from northern Italy until March 23 to combat the spread of coronavirus. On Saturday, it said the suspension would be extended to all flights to and from Italy until March 29, excluding cargo and sanitary ones.
It also reported 38 new confirmed cases of coronavirus since Friday, raising the total number of infections to 228.
A special Air India flight carrying 211 Indian students, who were stuck in Italy after flights were cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak, departed for India on Saturday (local time).
The flight which took off from Milan also has seven compassionate cases.
"211 students & 7 compassionate cases departed by AI flight #Milan. All those who helped us through this difficult situation, special thanks to @airindiain team & Italian authorities. Consulate will continue to ensure the welfare of all Indians in northern #Italy," Indian Consulate in Milan tweeted.
211 students & 7 compassionate cases departed by AI flight #Milan.all those who helped us through this difficult situation. Special to @airindiain team & Italian authorities. Consulate will continue to ensure welfare of all Indians in northern #Italy@MEAIndia@DrSJaishankarpic.twitter.com/eTX6GXHWCf- India in Milan (@cgmilan1) March 14, 2020