Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 25
With Covid-19 cases in India crossing the 600 mark today, the government warned recent travellers to the country, currently under official or home quarantine, to follow protocols or face legal action. The country hasn’t yet entered the stage of community transmission of the virus, it said.
The government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hoping to minimise the impact of the disease once it transmits into the community.
Currently, 64,000 people who returned to India since March remain under strict disease surveillance because they have the potential to spread the virus. Of them, 8,000 are lodged at government quarantine facilities and 56,000 are in home isolation but under surveillance. All these travellers need to complete their 14-day quarantine cycle and additional isolation until cleared of any potential infection and certified so.
The Group of Ministers reviewing Covid preparedness met today and decided to issue directions to state governments to ensure that recent travellers follow protocols or face penal action under the National Disaster Management Act, 2005, and the IPC Section 188.
“We are fighting a highly infectious disease. To protect ourselves and the community, it is necessary that everyone follows all protocols, guidelines and directions issued by the government. The failure to do so may lead to legal action,” said Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
The government decided to extend the cover of penal action to recent travellers besides the general public that violates social distancing norms of the government under the 21-day lockdown that began midnight Tuesday.
The Health Ministry meanwhile stated that the cases had surged to 606 as against 519 yesterday. Of them, 553 are active and 42 have been cured and discharged. WHO statistics said the virus had now reached 195 nations, with India placed at the 40th position in the case load table which China continues to top followed by Italy.
“During the lockdown period, all units of essential services, including hospitals, pharmacies, factories producing medical equipment, and food supplies will remain open. Rest of the services will remain suspended and violators will invite severe legal action,” Health Ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said.
The government said it had the capacity to test 12,000 samples a day. Currently, however around 1,000 samples are being tested with the ICMR expanding the chain of private labs approved for tests to 29. These labs have 16,000 sample collection centres.
India’s weekly testing average has been 5,000 as against Italy’s 52,000, South Korea’s 80,000 and US’ 26,000.
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The Indian Embassy in Kazakhstan on Wednesday appointed a nodal officer to assist around 300 Indian students stranded at the Almaty airport for the past 2-3 days without food and medical aid due to coronavirus pandemic. This came hours after the Delhi High Court asked the authorities to expeditiously provide the students basic amenities and assistance with regard to food, medical care, lodging and transportation. PTI
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Britain’s Prince Charles, 71, has tested positive for Covid-19 after he displayed ‘mild symptoms’ and is now self-isolating, his office said on Wednesday. The heir to British throne is self-isolating in Scotland with wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, who has tested negative. “He remains in good health and has been working from home,” it said.
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Spain's Covid-19 death toll overtook that of China on Wednesday, rising to 3,434 after 738 persons died over the past 24 hours, the government said. Across the world, only Italy now has a higher death toll than that of Spain. In China, where the virus emerged late last year, 3,281 people have died.
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