Coronavirus outbreak Updates: Italy records highest COVID-19 toll in one day with 627 deaths; 'you are not invincible', WHO tells youth

23:37 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak Latest Updates

WHO to young people: 'You are not invincible'

The World Health Organisation on Friday warned young people to not be complacent about the coronavirus pandemic.

"Today, I have a message for young people: You are not invincible. This coronavirus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

23:25 (IST)

Coronavirus in Italy Latest Updates

Italy records 627 deaths on Friday

Italy has recorded its highest day-to-day- rise in the number of deaths of persons infected with COVID-19.

Civil Protection Chief Angelo Borrelli announced Friday there were 627 new deaths. The number of new cases also shot staggeringly higher: 5,986 cases.

That brings the official total of new deaths overall to 4,032 and of cases to 47,021.

(AP)

23:15 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Meghalaya announces 24-hour shutdown

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma on Friday announced a 24-hour shutdown from midnight on Saturday and said that it will be observed as 'coronavirus awareness day', The Times of India reported.

Sangma said that "all public transport, commercial establishments and markets will remain shut to create awareness about the pandemic" among the public.

23:06 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

India's COVID-19 cases rise to 236

The number of positive coronavirus cases in India rose to 236 on Friday, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said.

22:57 (IST)

Coronavirus in US Latest Updates

California shuts down over COVID-19

California on Friday "shut down" amid projections of 25 million being affected by the novel coronavirus, The Times of India reported.

22:43 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Haryana govt provides details of six COVID-19 cases

The Haryana government on Friday released a detailed brief about the situation of coronavirus cases in the state.

"Till date total six cases have been reported positive in Haryana. Their details:

 Upto 19.03.2020- Four cases from Gurugram were declared positive. 

 Today (20.03.2020) two more cases have been reported-

i. One from district Faridabad, 52-year-old Female arrived from Spain on 12.03.2020.

ii. One from district Panipat, 21-year-old male arrived from England on 13.02.2020.

"State Helpline no. 8558893911

"All Social, Cultural, Sports, Political, Religious, Academic and Family mass gatherings of 200 or more people are banned till 31st March in Haryana. Further it has also been decided that all Cinema Halls, Gyms, Night Clubs shall remain closed till 31st March, 2020.

• Two labs from Haryana- PGIMS, Rohtak and BPS Khanpur Kalan, have been designated for testing of COVID- 19. 

• 327 isolation wards in Government and Private Health facilities with capacity of 2472 beds have been identified to deal with any contingency. The state has also identified Quarantine facilities in all the Districts with 1494 rooms including dormitories comprising of 6013 persons accommodation capacity. 

• Those who have travelled recently from the corona affected countries should inform at National/State/ District helpline number and remain under strict home isolation for 28 days from the date of arrival in India, irrespective of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic."

22:24 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Jamia Millia Islamia directs staff to work from home, students to vacate hostels

The Jamia Millia Islamia university on Friday issued an advisory for all its staff. "All the teaching staff of the various faculties and department will work from their home henceforth and they are directed to provide reading materials etc for the assignment of each unit on time. This arrangement is upto 31 March, 2020."

"All the students' hostels are hereby closed and it is directed that students vacate their hostel rooms latest by Monday morning. The duration of this order upto March 31 and likely to be extended in April 2020," the advisory added.

21:48 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

UP govt makes testing mandatory for all who came in contact with Kanika Kapoor

India Today reported that the Uttar Pradesh government has made it mandatory for all those who came in contact with singer Kanika Kapoor to get checked for coronavirus after she tested positive for the infection on Friday. She has attended a few parties since she returned from the UK.

The government also reportedly decided to take action against Kapoor, for "hiding her travel history and attended a party after coming from London"

21:39 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

MHA issues additional advisory to achieve social distancing

The Ministry of Home Affairs said that the Centre has taken further preventive measures to achieve social distancing to contain the coronavirus outbreak in India.

21:36 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

FIR filed against Kanika Kapoor, says report

News18 reported that an FIR was resgistered against Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, in Lucknow, for violating the norms of self isolation.

21:28 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Health ministry says universal screening to begin for passengers from three countries  

"There will be universal screening for all passengers coming from Australia, the United Kingdom and USA and risk profiling them for either quarantine or isolation based on risk assessment. This is in view of local transmission of the disease, increase in number of cases and deaths being reported in Australia, the United Kingdom and USA," the health ministry said in a notification on Friday.

21:18 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Himachal Pradesh reports first COVID-19 cases

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur said that two positive cases have been confirmed from Kangra district.

21:05 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Suburban trains in five cities to run on bare minimum level on Sunday

The Indian Railways on Friday said that suburban services in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, and Secunderabad shall be reduced to bare minimum level only to cater to essential travel requirement on Sunday, 22 March for the 'janata curfew'.

20:50 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Khan Market to shut shop on 22, 23 March

Delhi's Khan Market will observe a "complete lockdown" for two consecutive days on 22 and 23 March in keeping with the 'janata curfew' that Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for.

20:40 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Kerala will 'fully support' janata curfew: CM

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday said that the state governement will fully support the 'Janata Curfew' called by Narendra Modi on 22 March. "State Transport Corporation buses and public transport will be kept off roads. Metro will also not operate on that day. People should stay at home," he said.

20:35 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Lucknow's Taj Hotel closed

The Lucknow district magistrate said that city's Taj Hotel will remain closed till further orders after singer Kanika Kapoor, who has tested positive for COVID-19, attended a party in the hotel, News18 reported.

20:12 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Rajnath Singh speaks to US secretary of defence about COVID-19 situation

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said that he had spoken to US secretary of defence Mark Esper about the global situation over the coronavirus pandemic.

"We exchanged views on the grave situation arising out of coronavirus pandemic and expressed confidence that through open communication and mutual support, world can overcome the pandemic.

"We also reviewed the progress in bilateral defence cooperation as a part of India-US comprehensive global strategic partnership. India and the United States are committed to further deepen and strengthen the defence cooperation," he said.

20:03 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Two women taken to hospital by police for not following home quarantine

Kolkata commissioner of police Anuj Sharma said that two ladies were shifted by the police to the hospital as per the West Bengal Epidemic Disease coronavirus Regulation, 2020 from a housing complex in Ballygunge for not adhering to the protocol of home quarantine after coming back from abroad.

19:51 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Public transport in Bhubaneshwar to function on Odd-Even formula

The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has announced the Odd-Even formula for public transportation including for buses, taxis, auto-rickshaws. There will be no bar for private vehicles, government vehicles and for vehicles hired in hospitals, ANI reported.

19:43 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Bengaluru Metro to be shut for 'janata curfew'

In light of the 'Janata Curfew' on Sunday, 22 March, Bengaluru Metro has decided to keep its services closed, ANI reported.

19:33 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

PIB reshares tweet on audio clip between WHO and health ministry officials

"An audio conversation mentioning WHO sending report to Indian govt regarding lockdown is doing rounds on Social Media. In conversation with PBNS, WHO India said, "This audio is FAKE."

Additionally, while the audio falsely attributes such statements to have come from WHO Director in India, WHO India has clarified, "There is no such post in India. WHO India is headed by Representative to India, who is NOT a woman, as said in the audio clip," the tweet by the Press Information Bureau said.

19:25 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

12 more people test positive for COVID-19 in Kerala

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Friday said that 12 more people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in the state. There are five cases in Ernakulam, six in Kasaragod and one in Palakkad. There are total 40 Coronavirus positive cases in the state.

19:17 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Deepender Hooda observes self-isolation

Congress leader Deepender Singh Hooda on Friday said that he was observing self-isolation because he had come in contact with some people who were in touch with singer Kanika Kapoor, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.

18:52 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Defence forces set up stand-by quarantine facilities

The Indian Armed Forces on Friday said that stand-by quarantine facilities have been set up in Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Visakhapatnam, and Gorakhpur, with a capacity of 1,000 people.

The Indian Express reported that the armed forces said that additional facilities can also be arranged for quickly. "Currently, there are 58 people at the Indian Air Force's Hindon facility, 44 at the Indian Navy's facility, 484 people at the Army's Jaisalmer facility and 82 people at its Manesar facility, who are in quarantine," the report said.

18:40 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Lucknow, Kanpur to be sanitised after Kanika Kapoor tests positive 

Reports said that Lucknow and Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh will be sanitised after singer Kanika Kapoor tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Friday. The singer attended a few parties in Lucknow after she returned from the US, reports said. 

18:28 (IST)

Coronavirus in US Latest Updates

New York City could run out of medical supplies in few weeks, reports CNN

The New York City is likely to run out of essential medical supplies like surgical gowns, coveralls, gloves, and face masks by April CNN reported, adding that the city needs additional supplies of 45 million more

“We increased our ask. Things are constantly shifting and changing!" the government was quoted as saying.

18:10 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Another woman tests positive for COVID-19 in Gujarat

A 62-year-old woman in Vadodara in Gujarat tested positive for the novel coronavirus, The Indian Express reported on Friday. The total number of cases of the COVID-19 infection in the state is not at 8. The report also said that the woman has travel history with Sri Lanka.

17:54 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Uttar Pradesh shuts restaurants, hotels in Lucknow

The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday announced that all restaurants, hotels, sweet shops, food stalls, cafes, and other eateries will be shut in Lucknow till 31 March. 

"The move comes after singer Kanika Kapoor was tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday. According to locals and neighbours, the singer attended over two events hosted in different parts of the city. She is also learnt to have visited a 5-star hotel during her stay there," The Indian Express reported.

17:43 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

UPSC postpones tests, interviews

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) on Friday postponed the tests and interviews of civil services candidates because of the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.

17:33 (IST)

Coronavirus in France Latest Updates

French govt says citizens stranded abroad must 'have patience'

The French government on Friday said that the citizens stranded abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic must have patience and that the government is trying to bring them back, CNN reported. There are around 1,30,000 French citizens currently stranded abroad, the report said.

17:24 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Derek O'Brien in self-quarantine

Trinamool Congress (TMC) Derek O'Brien on Friday observed self-quarantine, The Times of India reported, adding that this is because he was sitting beside BJP MP Dushyant Singh who was a party with singer Kanika Kapoor, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday.

17:11 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

One more COVID-19 case reported in Telangana

One more case of coronavirus was reported in Telangana on Friday. The Times of India reported that the patient is an 18-year-old girl with travel history with London.

17:04 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Three Delhi Haats also to be shut, says Sisodia

Hours after the Delhi government announced the closure of all malls in the National Capital in view of the coronavirus outbreak, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that all three Delhi Haats at the INA, Pitam Pura and Janakpuri areas will also be shut.

"HoHo bus services of tourism department are also closed," he added.

16:58 (IST)

Coronavirus in Iran Latest Updates

Iran reports 149 COVID-19 deaths today

Iran on Friday reported 149 new coronavirus deaths, taking toll to 1,433.

16:44 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Health ministry says no shortage of essential commodities

Lav Agarwal, Health Ministry Joint Secretary said that 160 countries have now been infected from coronavirus. We have to to stop imported cases and stop transmission within the people. Social distancing is a way. There is no shortage of essential commodities and all steps being taken by us is for prevention.

"A total of 206 positive cases have been reported in the country so far. More than 6,700 contacts of them are being monitored. Four deaths have occurred so far, they were all over 64 years of age and had co-morbidity due to which they were vulnerable," he added.

16:31 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Vasundhara Raje in self-quarantine after Kanika Kapoor tests positive for COVID-19

Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje on Friday said that she and her son Dushyant were observind self-quaratine because they had attended a dinner with singer Kanika Kapoor who tested positive for coronavirus earlier on Friday.

16:26 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Modi to hold video-conference with all CMs today, says Health Ministry

In a daily press briefing, the health ministry said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to hold a video-conference with chief ministers of all states on Friday to discuss measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Lav Agarwal, Health Ministry Joint Secretary also said, "I request everyone in the society to use our toll free number 1075, seek information and steer clear of all kinds of misinformation on the novel coronavirus (nCov)."

16:12 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

PIB deletes tweet claiming audio clip over 'complete lockdown' is fake news

The Press Information Bureau on Friday delted a tweet in which they said, "An audio clip of conversation purportedly between officials of WHO and health ministry discussing "complete lockdown" of the country is being shared on Whatsapp. This audio clip is FAKE and work of miscreants. Please do not forward it."

15:56 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Delhi HC to continue restricted functioning till 3 April

The Delhi high court will continue restrictions on its level of functioning in view of the coronavirus pandemic till 3 April, reports said. A circular issued by the court also mentioned the judges who will be conducting proceedings during the period of restricted functioning.

15:41 (IST)

Coronavirus Outbreak Latest Updates

Marriot CEO says company facing worst crisis since 9/11, Great Depression

Marriot CEO Arne Sorenson said that business was down 75 percent across global markets. He also said that he won't take salary for a year and the executive team will take 50 percent cut.

He added that the company hadn't experienced such a crisis as during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic since the 9/11 terrorist attack, or the Great Depression.

In an emotional video address posted to Marriott International's Twitter account following the call, Business Insider reported Sorenson said that "in most markets, our business is already running 75 percent below normal levels."

15:06 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

2 test positive in Ladakh; cases climb to 10 in UT

Two more persons have tested positive for coronavirus in Ladakh, taking the number of such patients in the Union Territory to 10, a senior government official said on Friday.

Commissioner Secretary (Health) Rigzin Samphel said both the latest cases were from Choshot village of Leh, which was already notified as a containment area by the district administration.

"After the reports of the two patients came positive, they were immediately shifted to an isolation ward in a hospital here by health officials," Samphel told reporters.

He said the test reports of 55 more patients, including 11 taken on Friday, were sent to a laboratory in Delhi. Officials said the condition of all the coronavirus patients in the Union Territory was stable.

15:02 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Indian High Commission in London offers help for Indian nationals stuck in UK

The Indian High Commission in London is offering assistance with organising accommodation for Indian nationals stranded in the UK in light of India's ban on travellers from the UK and Europe over coronavirus pandemic. The mission had already set up an email system for Indian passport holders to get in touch with details of their situation and has continued to field hundreds of calls and social media messages from Indians

14:58 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Govt advises companies to implement ''Work from Home'' policy

The government has advised companies to implement 'Work from Home' policy for their staff to encourage "social distancing" to curb spreading of coronavirus infections.

As part of relaxations in compliance requirements, the corporate affairs ministry has allowed companies to conduct board meetings through video conference and other audiovisual means till 30 June.

In an advisory on Thursday, Corporate Affairs Secretary Injeti Srinivas said the ministry is examining relaxations under the companies law that could be implemented in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

14:53 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

All bars, hair salons closed till 31 March in Lucknow

 With a view to check the spread of coronavirus, the Lucknow district administration on Friday ordered closure of all bars, cafes/lounges, hair salons and beauty parlours with immediate effect.

"All bars, cafes/lounges, hair salons and beauty parlours should be closed with immediate effect till 31 March or till further orders," District Magistrate Abhishek Prakash said.

The decision has been taken as a precautionary measure to check spread of coronavirus, he said. Those who are found not complying with the orders will be facing punishable offence, he added.

14:47 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Singer Kanika Kapoor tests positive

Singer Kanika Kapoor has become the first Bollywood celebrity to test positive for Coronavirus in the country and says she's under complete quarantine and medical care. There were reports that the singer landed in Lucknow from the United Kingdom and was admitted in a city hospital after she showed signs of flu.

In a statement released on instagram, the "Baby Doll" singer said she developed signs of flu only in the last four days.

The 41-year-old singer said at this stage she would like to urge people to practice self isolation and get tested if one has the signs.

14:31 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Traders across India to down shutters in response to Janata Curfew, says CAIT

Traders across India will keep their establishments shut on Sunday in response to the Prime Minister's call for a self-imposed 'Janata Curfew', traders' body CAIT said on Friday.

"On the clarion call of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seven crore traders across the country will down their shutters on Sunday, March 22, to participate in Janata Curfew. About 40 crore employees of traders will remain at home," Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal said.

In Delhi, nearly 15 lakh traders and about 35 lakh of their employees will participate in Janata Curfew, he added.

14:25 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Three more coronavirus cases in Gujarat, count rises to five

Three more coronavirus cases came to light in Gujarat on Friday, taking the number of COVID-19 patients in the state to five, an official said here.

A man from Vadodara and two women from Ahmedabad tested positive on Friday and all of them had returned from abroad, said Principal Secretary, Health, Jayanti Ravi.

The 49-year-old Vadodara resident had returned from Spain. Of the two women, one, who is 34, had visited Finland while the other, who is 21, had returned from the United States.

14:13 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

All Delhi malls to be closed; grocery and pharmacy stores exempted

All malls in the national capital will be closed in view of the COVID-19 threat but grocery and pharmacy stores in them are exempt, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday.

"In view of the prevailing situation, we are closing down all malls (except grocery, pharmacy and vegetable shops in them)," Kejriwal tweeted.

14:07 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Shutdown to come into force by midnight till 31 March

Some of the essential services that will be excluded from the shut down are providing drinking water, banking services, telephone and internet services, railway and transportation services, food, vegetables and groceries, hospitals, medical centres and medical stores and electricity, said Uddhav Thackeray.


"This is not a holiday. This has been forced upon us. Do not cut salaries of those made to stay home," said the chief minister. The order is set to come into force from midnight tonight till 31 March.

14:02 (IST)

Coronavirus in India Latest Updates

Sensex rallies over 1,800 pts; Nifty reclaims 8,700 level

Equity benchmark Sensex soared over 1,800 points in afternoon session on Friday amid hopes of a stimulus package as Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a financial task force to combat the COVID-19 pandemic's economic fallout.

After starting on a volatile note, the BSE barometer was trading 1,848.07 points or 6.53 percent higher at 30,136.30 at 1330 hours. Similarly, the NSE Nifty was trading 515.50 points, or 6.24 percent, up at 8,778.95.

Coronavirus outbreak LATEST Updates: The World Health Organisation on Friday warned young people to not be complacent about the coronavirus pandemic.

"Today, I have a message for young people: You are not invincible. This coronavirus could put you in hospital for weeks, or even kill you. Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

India Today reported that the Uttar Pradesh government has made it mandatory for all those who came in contact with singer Kanika Kapoor to get checked for coronavirus after she tested positive for the infection on Friday. She has attended a few parties since she returned from the UK.

The government also reportedly decided to take action against Kapoor, for "hiding her travel history and attended a party after coming from London"

Suburban services in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Secunderabad shall be reduced to bare minimum level only to cater to essential travel requirement on March 22, Sunday.

The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has announced the Odd-Even formula for public transportation including for buses, taxis, auto-rickshaws. There will be no bar for private vehicles, government vehicles and for vehicles hired in hospitals, ANI reported.

The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday announced that all restaurants, hotels, sweet shops, food stalls, cafes, and other eateries will be shut in Lucknow till 31 March.

"The move comes after singer Kanika Kapoor was tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday. According to locals and neighbours, the singer attended over two events hosted in different parts of the city. She is also learnt to have visited a 5-star hotel during her stay there," The Indian Express reported.

Hours after the Delhi government announced the closure of all malls in the National Capital in view of the coronavirus outbreak, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said that all three Delhi Haats at the INA, Pitam Pura and Janakpuri areas will also be shut.

"HoHo bus services of tourism department are also closed," he added.

Former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje on Friday said that she and her son Dushyant were observind self-quaratine because they had attended a dinner with singer Kanika Kapoor who tested positive for coronavirus earlier on Friday.

Two more persons have tested positive for coronavirus in Ladakh, taking the number of such patients in the Union Territory to 10, a senior government official said on Friday. In Uttar Pradesh, with a view to check the spread of coronavirus, the Lucknow district administration on Friday ordered the closure of all bars, cafes/lounges, hair salons and beauty parlours with immediate effect.

All malls in the national capital will be closed in view of the COVID-19 threat but grocery and pharmacy stores in them are exempt, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday. 'In view of the prevailing situation, we are closing down all malls (except grocery, pharmacy and vegetable shops in them),' Kejriwal tweeted.

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray announced a lockdown of shops and offices in Mumbai, MMR region, Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad, and Nagpur on Friday. He further added that all offices will have to work from home and if that is not possible then they will have to shut their offices. The order is set to come into force from midnight tonight till 31 March.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday that there was no community spread of coronavirus in the country and a defined protocol exists about who needs to go for a test. Lok Sabha on Friday witnessed heated exchanges between Treasury and Opposition benches over claims by a Congress leader that essential commodities are fast disappearing from markets after the prime minister's address to the nation.

Indian Council of Medical Research on Friday said a total of 206 individuals have been confirmed positive among suspected cases and contacts of known positive cases. The government also sets up a WhatsApp helpdesk to fight misinformation amid the virus pandemic.

The latest death in India comes from Rajasthan, where a 69-year-old Italian citizen has died while undergoing treatment at the Fortis Hospital in Jaipur. He had apparently previously 'recovered' from the disease but died later. Meanwhile, three more persons were found positive for coronavirus infection in Maharashtra, taking the number of such cases in the state to 52.

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad has cancelled the Shobha Yatras and rath yatras it had planned to celebrate on the first Ram Navami post-Ayodhya verdict. Also, four more people have tested positive for coronavirus in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.

The government relaxed the rules on holding physical board meetings in an attempt to reduce physical contact and limit the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak on Friday.

In a notification, the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) said it has relaxed the requirements of holding board meetings requiring physical presence of directors till 30 June.

“Considering need to take precautionary steps to overcome the outbreak of the coronavirus (Covid-19), the government has in-principle decided to relax the requirement of holding board meetings with physical presence of directors," the MCA said in its notice.

Now, these meetings will be held through video-conferencing or other audio-visual means. The MCA is expected to notify the rules soon.

According to multiple reports, the health secretary is expected to give a press conference at 11 am today amid coronavirus outbreak in India. Fitch Ratings on Friday cut India's growth forecast to 5.1 percent for FY 2020-21, saying the coronavirus outbreak is likely to hit business investment and exports.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India rose to 195 on Friday, while the number of casualties remains at four. Meanwhile, the government has banned export of all ventilators, surgical/disposable masks and textile raw material used for making masks and coveralls with immediate effect in wake of the outbreak.

The United States warned Americans on Thursday to return home or stay abroad indefinitely, while Senate Republicans unveiled a $1 trillion economic stimulus plan to provide funds directly to businesses and the American public, as the number of coronavirus death in the country hit 200. California’s governor on Thursday issued a statewide 'stay at home' order to residents, telling them to leave their homes only when necessary during the coronavirus pandemic.

India recorded its fourth death due to coronavirus on Thursday. A 72-year-old man from Punjab, who had a history of travelling to Germany via Italy, passed away on Thursday passed away at the Banga community health centre after having severe chest pain. He was already patient was suffering from diabetes and hypertension. The total number of coronavirus cases stands at 169. Nearly 50 cases were reported from the state of Maharashtra.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Thursday evening over the coronavirus outbreak and the efforts that the government has taken so far to combat it. The prime minister urged the citizens to give up the attitude that the virus cannot affect them, and advocated the efficacy of social distancing. The PM did not go into details about the measures taken by the government to combat the threat.

The two significant points Modi mentioned were the creation of an economic task force and the assurance that food items and essential commodities won't run out while the nation battles the threat of a pandemic.

Modi called citizens to observe Janata curfew (self-imposed curfew) possibly as a drill to test out the success of a lockdown in India, should the need arise.

Narendra Modi said that "resolution and restraint" were the most important principles in fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic. "Resolution and restraint is very important in combat against this global epidemic. As citizens, people need to strengthen their resolve to follow the advisories issues by state and central governments to fight," he said.

The coronavirus pandemic has also affected economies across the world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, adding that the Centre has constituted a 'COVID-19 economic task force' which will take decisions regarding the economy in the duration of fighting the pandemic.

He also appealed to people to give those in service like domestic helps to take days off, and also not cut their pay if they are not able to come to work.

Advocating social distancing to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, Narendra Modi said that the state governments must enforce 'janata curfew' on 22 March. "Avoid travelling out of the house unless it is essential travel," he said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that while world powers are struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, developing countries like India will find it a big challenge to tackle and curb the infections. "You might think that you are fine and you will continue to roam around, but that is not right according to me. You have a responsibility to your fellow citizens to take care," he said.

Modi also strongly advocated the measure of social distancing, and advised staying away from crowds. He also said that companies must allow employees to work from.

'You have always given me what I've asked for, and today I am here to ask for your time over the next few weeks. It is necessary for every citizen of India to be aware and cautious about the COVID-19 infection, over the next few weeks," Narendra Modi said.

He added, "This crisis has engulfed the entire human race. For the past two months, we have been watching with concern the news about coronavirus spreading across the world."

Iranian health ministry spokesperson Kianoush Jahanpour said on Thursday that an Iranian dies due to the novel coronavirus every 10 minutes. Every hour, at least 50 Iranian are infected, he added in a tweet.

Iran confirmed 1,046 cases of coronavirus bringing the total to 18,407.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said, "Twenty or more people will not be allowed to gather at any place for social, cultural, religious, academics, seminars, conferences purposes in the state." Earlier, 50 or more people were not allowed to gather.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said that all restaurants in the National Capital will be shut in a bid to urge people to stay home as authorities take measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. However, he said, that the take away and home delivery services will be available.

"10 confirmed cases have so far been reported in Delhi. Of which, two have been cured. We have 768 beds for quarantine purposes, of which 57 are occupied. We have 550 isolation beds," Kejriwal said.

The Government of India issued an advisory on Thursday saying that no scheduled international commercial passenger flights shall be allowed to land in India from 22 March for one week.

A fourth patient of the novel coronavirus has succumbed to the infection in India, reports said. The victim was reportedly a 70-year-old man in the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar who had travel history with Germany and Italy, India Today reported.

Prasar Bharati on Thursday said that a purported government notice claiming that restricted movement will be implemented in the country is fake news. "This press release being circulated on Social Media is NOT from India and NOT for India," the tweet said.

The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir government on Thursday suspended the inter-state bus service as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease.

The order passed by the regional transport officer of Kashmir read, " To migitate the transmission of COVID-19 in Union Terrirtory of Jammu and Kashmir, it is hereby ordered that no bus service/ mini bus service/ maxi cab service/ auto passenger service shall ply in Srinagar district with immediate effect till further orders."

The statement further said that no public transport shall enter Srinagar district from the north, south or central district of Kashmir division."

So far, three people have tested positive in the Jammu region.

Amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Noida Police Commissionerate on Wednesday ordered the imposition of Section 144 in Gautam Budh Nagar to restrict gathering of people.

The Noida Police Commissionerate said in a tweet, "In view of the emergency situation arising out of threat of coronavirus, and following Section 144 of CrPC, it is announced that no social, political, cultural, religious, sports and business gatherings shall be allowed in Gautam Budh Nagar district till 5 April, 2020."

Lending its support to the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic, WhatsApp on Wednesday announced two initiatives: the launch of Coronavirus Information Hub in partnership with the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and UNDP, and a $1 million donation to the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).

As coronavirus cases continue to rise globally – infecting over 1,98,000 people and claiming more than 7,900 lives worldwide – the messaging platform on Wednesday said WhatsApp Coronavirus Information Hub at whatsapp.com/coronavirus would provide simple, actionable guidance for health workers, educators, community leaders, non-profit entities, local governments, and local businesses that rely on WhatsApp to communicate.

Amid coronavirus outbreak, Kerala government and the opposition have shown unity and come together to fight the crisis together. Setting aside their political differences, Kerala chief minister and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala have decided to hold a joint press conference addressing the local self government heads on how to manage the coronavirus pandemic.

Pinarayi, who has been hailed for his efforts to manage and curb the fast-spreading virus, reviewed the preparations taken by the state against the pandemic and stressed upon the need to tighten vigil. Kerala has reported the second highest confirmed cases. Pinarayi, along with health minister KK Shailaja, has held daily press conferences at 7 pm for the last 8 days.

Kerala has already reported 25 positive cases and home quarantined 17,743 people so far. Besides, around 18,472 people are under surveillance, of which 268 are undergoing treatment in hospitals.

The ICSE board on Thursday postponed Class 10 and 12 examinations due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, officials said. The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) Chief Executive Gerry Arathoon said the exams have been postponed till 31 March.

On Wednesday however, he had said the exams will be conducted as per the schedule after the CBSE announced it has postponed exams till 31 March.

Two women tested positive for coronavirus in Mumbai metropolitan region on Thursday, taking the number of such cases in Maharashtra to 47, officials said.

While one woman had returned from the United Kingdom, another one had come back from Dubai, they said.

"A 22-year-old woman from Mumbai tested positive for Covid-19. She had returned from the UK. Another woman, a resident of Ulhas Nagar, had returned from Dubai. She is 49- year-old," an official said.

According to Health Ministry, the number of people infected with the highly contagious novel coronavirus has risen to 166, ANI reported. The number of confirmed cases comprised 141 Indians and 25 foreigners.

India has recorded three deaths due to COVID-19 so far. The government has given several advisories asking people to avoid crowded places and stay at home as much as possible in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

A 20-year old man who travelled by train from Delhi to Chennai tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday, becoming Tamil Nadus second COVID-19 patient, over ten days after the first case surfaced in the state, Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar said.

Incidentally, the first patient, a 45-year old engineer, has been discharged from hospital after his recovery, the Minister announced.

On the latest case, he indicated the patient did not have any history of foreign travel, describing him as a domestic case.

The youth, hailing from Delhi was currently in the isolation ward at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) in Chennai and being monitored closely, he said adding efforts would be launched immediately to trace those whom he had come into contact in recent days.

The number of positive cases of coronavirus in India on Wednesday rose to 151, which included 25 foreign nationals and 126 Indians.

Meanwhile, in a written reply in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said the total number of Indians infected by coronavirus abroad was 276 — 255 in Iran, 12 in UAE, five in Italy, and one each in Hong Kong, Kuwait, Rwanda, and Sri Lanka.

Giving a state-wise break up of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in India, officials said Delhi has so far reported ten cases which include one foreigner, while Uttar Pradesh has recorded 16 cases, including one foreigner.

Maharashtra has 42 cases, including three foreigners, while Kerala has recorded 27 cases which include two foreign nationals.

Karnataka has 11 coronavirus patients, whereas, the number of cases in Ladakh rose to eight while in Jammu and Kashmir the number of cases was three. Telangana has reported six cases which include two foreigners.

Rajasthan has also reported four cases including that of two foreigners. Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Uttarakhand and Punjab have reported one case each.

Workers conduct a cleaning drive in buses as part of a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, at ISBT Anand Vihar, New Delhi. PTI

In Haryana, there are 17 cases, which include fourteen foreigners. According to the ministry's data, 14 people have been discharged so far, including three patients from Kerala who were discharged last month.

Meanwhile, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has postponed all examinations from 19 March to 31 March. The board also directed the suspension of evaluation work till 31 March.

Swiss firm gets licence to conduct tests

The Swiss firm Roche Diagnostics India received the licence for conducting coronavirus tests after approval from drug regulator DCGI, making it the first private firm to get such permission after the government decided to allow accredited private labs to test for COVID-19, a senior health ministry official said.

According to a senior official, the DCGI is now assessing giving licence to another private diagnostic firm, bioMérieux, which has also sought approval to conduct tests for coronavirus.

The official said two Indian diagnostic companies — Trivitron Healthcare and Mylab Discovery Solution — have also sought approval from the DCGI for the coronavirus testing kits developed by them.

Three more cases reported in Karnataka

In Karnataka, the number of COVID-19 cases reached 14 on Wednesday, with three more people testing positive. With this, the government has extended the lockdown announced last week to 31 March as it stepped up efforts to combat the spread of the disease which has already claimed a life in the state.

Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa convened an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the impact of COVID-19 and further measures to tackle the outbreak. The cabinet decided to earmark Rs 200 crore as "immediate expenses" to contain the spread, and constitute a task force comprising four ministers for monitoring the situation on a daily basis, and review measures.

The state government had announced lockdown of malls, cinema theatres, pubs and night clubs for a week, with effect from last Saturday.

Yediyurappa had also issued instructions to stop all kinds of exhibitions, summer camps, conferences, fairs, marriage, sports and engagement events, and birthday parties state-wide for a week from Saturday. The chief minister on Wednesday said these curbs would continue till 31 March.

Army reports first case

The Indian Army reported its first case of coronavirus after a 34-year-old soldier of Ladakh Scout regiment tested positive, prompting the force to strengthen its check and prevention mechanism and suspend war games and training activities.

The soldier from the Ladakh Scout regiment tested positive for the virus after he came in contact with his father, who had returned from a pilgrimage in Iran by an Air India flight on 20 February and tested positive for COVID-19, army sources said.

A resident of Chuhot village in Leh, the soldier was on leave from 25 February and rejoined duty on 2 March, sources said, adding he was quarantined on 7 March and tested positive on 16 March. The soldier's brother has also tested positive, sources said.

This prompted the army to further strengthen its check and prevention mechanism by taking additional steps, including checking soldiers for flu symptoms on their return from leave and cancelling non-essential travel and conferences.

Impact on travel

Senior railway officials informed a parliamentary panel that more than 60 percent tickets were cancelled in March so far due to the outbreak while GoAir said it has terminated contracts of expat pilots amid curtailed operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways also announced reduction in its flights to India, two days after the government stated that passengers coming from UAE from 18 March onward would be compulsorily quarantined for 14 days.

With a surge in demand for soaps, floor cleaners and thermal scanners, Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the Centre is closely monitoring the prices of these items. Normally, the ministry keeps track of prices of 22 essential commodities but recently, it has included face masks and hand sanitisers under the Essential Commodities Act.

Indians stranded in Iran

Giving the details of Indians in Iran, one of the worst affected countries by the novel coronavirus, V Muraleedharan in his written reply said the nationals include about 1,100 pilgrims mainly from Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra.

There are also nearly 300 students primarily from Jammu and Kashmir, about 1,000 fishermen, including from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, and others who are on a long-term stay in Iran for pursuing their livelihood and religious studies, he added.

A deserted shopping mall at Ghaziabad. PTI

Asked about steps taken by the Centre to help Indians stranded in Iran due to the coronavirus outbreak, Muraleedharan said the government has made focussed efforts for the safe return of Indians from that country.

A team of six Indian health officials has been deputed to Iran in order to set up testing and sampling facilities there, he said.

Muraleedharan said that 1,706 samples have been taken, including from pilgrims, students and other Indians stranded in Iran. These are tested at medical facilities including the National Institute of Virology, Pune, he said.

Iran reports biggest single-day rise in deaths

Iran reported its single biggest jump in deaths from the new coronavirus on Wednesday as another 147 people died, raising the country's overall toll due to the virus to 1,135.

The nearly 15 percent spike in deaths, amid a total of 17,361 confirmed cases in Iran, marks the biggest 24-hour rise in fatalities since officials first acknowledged cases of the virus in Iran in mid-February.

Still, even as the number of cases continues to grow each day, food markets were still packed with shoppers on Wednesday and highways were crowded with traffic as families traveled between cities ahead of the Persian New Year, Nowruz, on Friday.

Meanwhile, desperate travellers choked European border crossings Wednesday after countries implemented strict controls to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, which has now infected more than 200,000 people worldwide and killed more than 8,000.

In releasing the new figures, Johns Hopkins University also said more than 82,000 people recovered from the virus, which causes only mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people, although severe illness is more likely in the elderly and those with existing health problems.

Italy has been the second hardest-hit country with more than 31,000 cases, behind more than 81,000 in China.

With inputs from agencies



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