Education institutions, shopping malls, religious places and public transport are likely to remain shut beyond May 3 when the ongoing lockdown due to coronavirus pandemic is slated to end, as was indicated in the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief ministers on Monday.
Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 cases in the country climbed to 28,380 and the death toll due to it rose to 886 in the country, registering a record increase of 60 deaths in 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry.
LOCKDOWN TO BE EXTENDED?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked states to try to convert the Covid-19 challenge into opportunities through administrative reforms, and form their own policies on relaxing the lockdown based on ground reality.
In a video conference with chief ministers, PM Modi indicated that the coronavirus infection would remain for a longer time, beyond May 3, and people need to continue the use of masks and sanitisers for a longer period.
This is Modi’s fourth such interaction with state chief ministers since March 22 when he first spoke to them on the coronavirus situation and steps taken.
At least five chief ministers out of nine who spoke during the video conference strongly pitched for the extension of the ongoing lockdown beyond May 3 while a few advocated a cautious relaxation in curbs with limited activities in Covid-19 free districts.
All chief ministers are in agreement that lockdown exit has to be gradual and that too after adopting all precautions or “shock absorbers”.
RETURN TO NORMALCY FOR GREEN ZONES?
In the green zones districts, limited private vehicles may be allowed to ply but full scale train and air services are unlikely to start anytime soon, an official privy to the developments said.
There is a possibility of regulated train or air services after mid-May between some designated places depending on the Covid-19 situation.
Schools, colleges, shopping malls, religious places and public transport are likely to remain shut while a ban on public and social gatherings is also expected to continue beyond May 3, the official said.
A final decision on lockdown will be taken during the weekend, officials said on Monday after the meeting on the strategy to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
INDIA CANCELS ORDERS FOR CHINESE KITS
The Indian Council of Medical Research on Monday asked the states and union territories to stop using the rapid antibody Covid-19 testing kits procured from China due to “wide variation” in their performance even as the government said not a single rupee will be lost as payments were not made to the Chinese suppliers of the equipment.
India procured around five lakh rapid antibody test kits from the two Chinese firms, Guongzhou Wondfo Biotech and Livzon Diagnostics, and they were distributed to several states reporting rising cases of the coronavirus infection.
An official said cancellation of the orders from the Chinese firms will not have any financial bearing on the government.
NO NEW CASES IN 85 DISTRICTS
A total of 85 districts in 25 states and Union territories have not reported any fresh Covid-19 case in the last 14 days, while 16 districts have not registered new coronavirus infections in 28 days, the Union health ministry said on Monday.
However, two districts — Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar in Punjab — which did not record a fresh case in the last 28 days, reported new Covid-19 cases on Monday, it added.
Addressing the daily briefing to provide Covid-19 updates in the country, Joint Secretary in the ministry Lav Agarwal stressed on the need to maintain a vigil at all times so that no new cases surface in more districts.
RBI DELIVERS Rs 50,000 CRORE BOOST
The Reserve Bank of India on Monday provided a Rs 50,000-crore shot in the arm to stressed mutual funds by unveiling a special liquidity facility for the sector, days after Franklin Templeton Mutual Fund decided to close six debt schemes.
In a statement, the central bank said heightened volatility in capital markets in reaction to Covid-19 has imposed liquidity strains on mutual funds (MFs), which have intensified in the wake of redemption pressures related to closure of some debt MFs and potential contagious effects therefrom.
The stress is, however, confined to the high-risk debt MF segment at this stage; the larger industry remains liquid, it said.
BENGAL PERMITS DELIVERY OF NON-ESSENTIALS
Home delivery of non-essential goods and services will resume in the state from April 27, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Monday. She added that the state government is working on a plan to relax restrictions in phases and according to zones till May 21.
“We request the local people to ensure that they stay at home and we also want to know the opinion of the central government on home delivery of goods and services along with the relaxation of norms,” added CM Mamata Banerjee.
She also said that a cabinet committee has been formed to manage the Covid-19 outbreak in West Bengal.
STATES BRING BACK STUDENTS FROM KOTA
Over 390 students of Assam arrived in Guwahati on Monday from the coaching hub of Kota in Rajasthan and have been kept under institutional quarantine.
A group of 369 students, hailing from different districts of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, reached Kathua from Kota onboard 15 SRTC buses.
However, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said it will not be possible to bring back students from places like Kota until the directions are suitably amended.
PATIENT COMMITS SUICIDE IN BENGALURU
A 50-year old Covid-19 patient allegedly committed suicide at a hospital in Bengaluru, which the health department has categorised as “death due to non-Covid cause”.
Sources at the Victoria hospital, where the incident occurred, said he was admitted in the ICU in the sixth floor of Trauma care center.
He was dialysed on April 25 and was due for another dialysis on Monday. The patient allegedly jumped from the trauma centre building this morning.
MUMBAI REMOVES 200 AREAS FROM HOTSPOT LIST
The number of containment zones in Mumbai has come down to 805 after it surged past the 1,000-mark in the previous week.
While interacting with media persons on Monday, Mayor Kishore Pednekar also said that 231 areas have been removed from the list of Mumbai’s containment zones because they reported no new cases in the last 14 days.
This exercise will bring relief to people living in those areas as they will be allowed to step out of their homes only to buy essentials.
CORONAVIRUS TALLY CROSSES 28,000-MARK
There has been a spike of 1,463 cases since Sunday evening.
The number of active Covid-19 cases stood at 21,132, while 6,361 people have recovered, and one patient has migrated, the ministry said.
Thus, around 22.41 per cent of patients have recovered in the country so far.
The total number of cases includes 111 foreign nationals.
INDIA SEES 60 DEATHS IN ONE DAY
A total of 60 deaths were reported since Sunday evening, of which 19 fatalities were reported from Maharashtra, 18 from Gujarat, eight from Rajasthan, seven from Madhya Pradesh, two each from Karnataka, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, and one each from Punjab and Tamil Nadu.
Of the 886 deaths, Maharashtra tops the tally with 342 fatalities, followed by Gujarat at 151, Madhya Pradesh at 106, Delhi at 54, Rajasthan at 41, and Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh at 31 each.
The death toll reached 26 in Telangana, 24 in Tamil Nadu while West Bengal and Karnataka have reported 20 deaths each.
Punjab has registered 18 fatalities so far. The disease has claimed six lives in Jammu and Kashmir, four in Kerala while Jharkhand and Haryana have recorded three Covid-19 deaths each.
Bihar has reported two deaths, while Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Assam have reported one fatality each, according to the ministry data.
MAHARASHTRA, GUJARAT, DELHI SEE SPIKE IN CASES
According to the Health Ministry data updated in the evening, the highest number of confirmed cases in the country are from Maharashtra at 8,068, followed by Gujarat at 3,301, Delhi at 2,918, Rajasthan at 2,185, Madhya Pradesh at 2,168, Uttar Pradesh at 1,955 and Tamil Nadu at 1,885.
The number of Covid-19 cases has gone up to 1,177 in Andhra Pradesh and 1,002 in Telangana.