"Coronavirus Matter Of Concern," Says Foreign Minister; Cases Climb To 74

The novel coronavirus outbreak that surfaced in China's Wuhan in December last year has claimed over 4,500 lives and affected over a lakh people worldwide.

Foreign Minister S Jaishankar addresses Lok Sabha.

Highlights

  • Union Health Ministry to step up measures to curb the spread
  • Kerala reported maximum number of cases
  • W.H.O. declared coronavirus a "pandemic"
New Delhi: Coronavirus outbreak is a "matter of concern", Foreign Minister S Jaishankar told parliament today as the number of cases of the highly contagious disease climbed to 74 across India. "Exceptional situations require exceptional responses," Mr Jaishankar said, adding that "travel at this time is not recommended as it only heightens risks". Stepping up measures to curb the spread, the Union health ministry on Wednesday said that all existing visas -- except diplomatic, official, UN/International organisations, employment and project visas -- will be suspended till April 15 as the World Health Organisation declared coronavirus a "pandemic". More than 4,500 people have been killed, over 1,00,000 people across 100 countries have been infected amid the outbreak.

Here are top 10 developments in this big story:

  1. Around 6,000 Indians - including 1,100 pilgrims from Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir and 300 students - are stranded in Iran, one of the worst-affected countries in the world by the virus outbreak that originated in China's Wuhan, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar said today. The initial focus is on "bringing back pilgrims, mostly stranded in Qom," he said.

  2. On Tuesday, first batch of 58 Indians were evacuated from coronavirus-hit Iran. "There are operational constraints in evacuating Indians as Iranian system is stretched," Foreign Minister S Jaishankar told parliament today.

  3. Kerala where 17 people have been infected with coronavirus has reported maximum cases in the country, followed by Haryana where 14 Italian tourists are isolated. Maharashtra has reported 11 cases, followed by Uttar Pradesh (10), Delhi (6) and Karnataka (4). The last reported case is from Andhra Pradesh's Nellore.

  4. Domestic markets today suffered the biggest single-day selloff ever, mirroring losses in global markets after the World Health Organisation declared the deadly coronavirus a pandemic.

  5. "Discourage public gatherings," Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan appealed to the lawmakers in Lok Sabha today as he urged for co-operation to curb the spread of virus. Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that experts have advised against "mass gatherings to avoid coronavirus spread" in a tweet, adding that he would avoid Holi celebrations.

  6. Chief Justice of India SA Bobde, Justices Arun Mishra and UU Lalit held a meeting today with top Supreme Court officials, senior advocates and Health Ministry officials. The justices will decide by Friday evening whether to extend the court's vacation or have limited functioning as coronavirus spreads across the country.

  7. A government communique that announced the suspension of visas on Wednesday said that all incoming travellers, including Indian nationals from nations hit by coronavirus or COVID-19 - China Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany -- after February 15, shall be quarantined for a minimum of 14 days.

  8. The coronavirus scare has forced closure of schools and colleges in parts of the country. Delhi has shut schools, colleges and movie theatres till March 31. Kashmir and Ladakh has shut its schools and colleges and the Indian Institute of Management has postponed its annual convocation.

  9. Health being a state subject, every state is taking their own measures. So to bring them under the Union Health Ministry and jointly deal with the coronavirus outbreak, the Centre has invoked Section 10 of the Disaster Management Act and asked all state to invoke Section 2 of the Epidemic Diseases Act.

  10. The Maharashtra government has banned ticket sales for the 2020 Indian Premier League opener between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. The match is scheduled to be held on March 29 and will be the first of the 13th season of the IPL which will continue till May 24 at various venues across the country. 


Newsbeep