Covid-19 in India: Nation braces for Lockdown 3.0 as number of cases cross 40,000, 1306 dead

The third phase of the countrywide lockdown begins Monday with “considerable relaxations”, but curbs will continue in containment areas so that the gains achieved so far in the fight against Covid-19 are not “squandered away”.

India registered a record jump of 83 deaths and 2,487 cases in 24 hours, even as Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday that the growth rate of Covid-19 cases has been steadying for a while and the nation was on the path of winning the war against the pandemic.

The number of COVID-19 fatalities rose to 1,306 and total cases climbed to 40,263 on Sunday, according to the health ministry.

Meanwhile, fly-pasts by fighter jets, aerial flower shower, performances by military bands at major hospitals and lighting up of warships marked the nation-wide mega exercise by the armed forces on Sunday to express gratitude to lakhs of doctors, paramedics and other front-line workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.

STATES PLAN FOR LOCKDOWN 3.0

Several states on Sunday announced, new rules and relaxations for the third phase of the lockdown which will continue till May 17. Most states agreed to follow the guidelines set out by the Ministry of Home Affairs for red, orange and green zones respectively. Others announced modifications to the MHA guidelines.

The Maharashtra government on Sunday announced that shops selling non-essential commodities, including liquor, will be allowed to open from Monday in the Covid-19 non-containment zones across the state.

The Uttar Pradesh government allowed industrial units and liquor vends to operate in non-containment areas while continuing with curbs on educational institutes, public transport and gatherings.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said his government will implement the centre’s latest guidelines on lockdown relaxation and allow government and private offices to open from Monday but the suspension of travel by flight, metro and bus will continue.

The reopening of liquor shops in states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and others brought good news for many.

Meanwhile, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren said a “total” lockdown will continue in the state for the next two weeks and the Centre’s relaxation guidelines will not be applicable in the state.

All neighbourhood shops in Chandigarh will remain open from 10 am to 6 pm on an odd-even basis from Sunday, the union territory administration has said.

Deviating from the Centre’s order granting certain relaxations in ‘Red’ zones during the third phase of the coronavirus-induced lockdown beginning on Monday, the Gujarat government has decided against giving any relief in six cities and as many municipalities due to high number of cases.

ARMED FORCES SALUTE CORONA WARRIORS

Indian Air Force’s combat jets and transport aircraft flew over various state capitals including Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Guwahati, Patna, Lucknow, Srinagar, Chandigarh, Bhopal, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram to salute the “corona warriors”.

Army’s military bands also performed at leading hospitals treating coronavirus patients across the country.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the thanks-giving activities as “great gesture by our armed forces.”

A large number of helicopters belonging to the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy dropped flower petals over leading hospitals treating coronavirus patients across the country.

In the evening, 25 Indian Naval warships across nine port cities including those in Andaman and Nicobar Islands were illuminated from 7:30 PM as part of the thanks-giving exercise. Overall 40 ships participated in the exercise.

At the sea, the Navy’s front-line ships INS Jalashwa and INS Savitri saluted the ‘corona warriors’. Navy personnel on board aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya too expressed their appreciation by forming a human chain.

TIME TO REOPEN DELHI HAS COME

As Delhi recorded its highest single-day spike in COVID-19 cases with 427 new infections on Sunday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the time has come to re-open Delhi and people will have to be ready to live with the novel coronavirus.

Addressing an online media briefing, Kejriwal said the Delhi government will suggest to the Centre that only containment areas in the city be declared as red zones and not the entire district. At present, all 11 districts in the city have been declared as red zones.

The chief minister said coronavirus is going nowhere and it is impossible that cases of coronavirus will be zero.

“It is impossible that there will be no cases of coronavirus because it has not happened across the world. We will have to be ready to live with coronavirus. We will have to get used to it,” he said.

TRAIN, BUSES BRING STRANDED HOME

On Sunday, the first train carrying migrants arrived in Uttar Pradesh from Maharashtra’s Nasik. The special train started from Nashik on Saturday morning and arrived in Lucknow via Jhansi and Kanpur, carrying 800 labourers. A special Shramik train carrying nearly 1,000 stranded migrant labourers left Nagpur on Sundayevening for Lucknow.

Two ‘Shramik Special’ trains carrying around 2,300 migrant Odia workers stranded in Kerala and Gujarat due to the nationwide lockdown reached Odisha. At least 5,700 stranded guest workers from Bihar were taken in five non-stop trains to their state from various railway stations in Kerala on Sunday.

Nearly 500 Delhi students stranded at coaching hub Kota in Rajasthan due to the coronavirus lockdown returned to the national capital in 40 private buses.

Over 1,200 students from Bihar, who had been stranded in Kota for more than a month due to lockdown, finally left for their home state in a special train on Sunday, but another 10,000 still remained stuck in the Rajasthan city.

MHA CLARIFIES TRANSPORT ONLY FOR MIGRANTS, STUDENTS

The Union Home Ministry on Sunday made it clear that the relaxations given for the inter-state movement of people during the lockdown was available only to distressed migrant workers, stranded tourists, pilgrims and students only.

Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said the home ministry allowed inter-state movement of such stranded persons, who had moved from their native places or workplaces, just before the lockdown period, but could not return on account of restrictions placed on movement of persons and vehicles as part of lockdown measures.

RAILWAYS CHARGES STATES FOR SHRAMIK TRAINS

The Indian Railways has issued a set of guidelines for Shramik Special trains being run to ferry the migrants stranded across the country, saying “states should collect the ticket fare”, inviting fierce criticism for charging for their services.

Railways is charging the fare of sleeper class tickets, plus a super-fast charge of Rs 30 and an additional charge of Rs 20 for the Shramik Specials.

While railways has refused to comment on the issue of payments, stating it is a state matter, sources said Jharkhand, which has received two trains till now, has paid its dues. Originating states like Rajasthan and Telangana are also paying for the travel of workers in their states.

Gujarat, the sources said, has roped in an NGO to pay for part of the services.

However, they said, Maharashtra is making the migrants pay some amount of the fare.

CENTRAL TEAMS TO VISIT 20 WORST-HIT DISTRICTS

Twenty central public health teams have been constituted and are being deployed in as many affected districts having high case load of COVID-19 in nine states and Delhi to identify the gaps and support them in proper implementation of cluster containment plans and surveillance measures.

According to the Union Health Ministry, these teams will be deployed in 20 districts — Mumbai, Thane, Pune in Maharashtra; Bhopal, Indore in Madhya Pradesh; Ahmedabad, Surat and Vadodara in Gujarat; South East and Central Districts in Delhi; Jaipur and Jodhpur in Rajasthan; Agra and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh; Hyderabad in Telangana; Chennai in Tamil Nadu; Kolkata in West Bengal; and Kurnool, Guntur and Krishna in Andhra Pradesh.

RATE OF GROWTH STABILISING: HEALTH MINISTER

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said the rate of growth of new COVID-19 cases has been steadying for a while and the recovery rate improving, adding that India is on the path of success and will win the war against the pandemic.

“The recovery rate of COVID-19 patients has steadily increased which shows that more and more of these patients are getting better and going back home,” he said.

“The rate of growth of new cases has also been steadying for a while,” Vardhan said.

According to the data received on Sunday, for the past three days, the doubling rate of the virus is 12.0, for seven days it is 11.7 and for 14 days it is 10.4, the minister was quoted as saying in a statement.

12 BSF JAWANS TEST POSITIVE IN TRIPURA

Twelve more Border Security Force jawans tested positive for COVID-19 in Tripura on Sunday, a day after two BSF jawans were found to have been infected with the deadly virus.

With the 12 new cases, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state rose to 16, of which 14 are active as two persons have recovered from coronavirus.

All the new COVID-19 cases are BSF jawans from 138th battalion, the same battalion from where last two coronavirus patients were identified on Saturday.

INDIA SEES RECORD JUMP IN CASES, CROSSES 40,000-MARK

According to the health ministry’s evening update, the number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 28,070, while 10,886 people have recovered and one patient has migrated.

The total number of cases also include 111 foreign nationals.

Of the 83 deaths reported since Saturday evening, 36 were from Maharashtra, 26 from Gujarat, 11 from Madhya Pradesh, three each from Rajasthan and Delhi, two from Telangana and one each from Tamil Nadu and Bihar.

With 521 fatalities, Maharashtra accounts for the maximum of the nationwide 1,306 deaths. Gujarat comes second with 262 deaths, followed by Madhya Pradesh 156, Rajasthan 65, Delhi 64, Uttar Pradesh 43, and West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh 33 each.

The death toll reached 29 in Tamil Nadu, 28 in Telangana, while Karnataka has reported 25 fatalities due to the respiratory disease. Punjab has registered 20 COVID-19 deaths, Jammu and Kashmir eight, Kerala, Bihar and Haryana have reported four deaths each. Jharkhand has recorded three COVID-19 fatalities.

Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Assam have reported one fatality each, according to the ministry data. The health ministry’s Saturday evening update had put the death toll at 1,223 and the number of cases at 37,776 in the country.

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