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Updates (Mar 12): Delhi Schools, Colleges, Cinema Halls Shut Till March 31, Two More Test Positive In Kerala

Modi urges people to avoid non-essential travel and large gatherings. Read Thursday's updates here:
A commuter wearing a face mask as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus at Kashmere Gate station of the Delhi Metro, in New Delhi on March 12, 2020.
A commuter wearing a face mask as a preventive measure against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus at Kashmere Gate station of the Delhi Metro, in New Delhi on March 12, 2020.

India confirmed on Thursday there were 73 coronavirus patients in the country, including foreign 17 foreign nationals. On Wednesday, the government suspended all visas, except a few categories such as diplomatic and employment, till April 15 to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The World Health Organization on Wednesday night declared covid-19 a pandemic.

Here are the updates:

7.23pm: Two more patients in Kerala, CM says

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan said two more people have tested positive for coronavirus in the state, one in Thrissur and the other in Kannur.

6.31 pm: All the helplines numbers in India

Helpline: +91-11-2397 8046

5.14pm: Delhi schools and colleges, cinema halls shut till March 31

CM Arvind Kejriwal has announced all cinema hall in Delhi will be shut till March 31.

All schools and colleges (whose examinations have been held) in Delhi will also be closed till March 31.

4.36pm: No central govt minister will travel abroad, says Modi

3.45pm: Internet crucial for business continuity during pandemic, says Kerala CM

3.41 pm: Markets close with Sensex down over 8%

3.23 pm: Govt says it has so far evacuated 900 Indians who were abroad

3.13 pm: Markets crash

Sensex nosedived 3,100 points while the Nifty went below 9,600 for first time since July 2017. According to Economic Times, the Sensex is down nearly 15% in seven days.

2.56 pm: Pandemic may be over by June, says veteran Chinese medic with SARS experience

The global coronavirus pandemic is likely to be over by June, Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese government’s senior medical adviser, said on Thursday.

A lot of imported cases into China are asymptomatic patients and the re-infection rates among recovered patients is low, Zhong, an 83-year-old epidemiologist renowned for helping combat the SARS outbreak in 2003, told a news conference, Reuters reported.

2.43 pm: Twitter staff worldwide asked to work from home

Twitter has ordered all staff globally to work from home. The social media platform had already announced a mandatory work from home policy for its staff in South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan earlier this month and suspended “non-critical” business travel and events in February.

“We understand this is an unprecedented step, but these are unprecedented times,” Twitter human resources chief Jennifer Christie said in a blog post.

2.32 pm: Indian-origin doctor from Canada tests positive in Lucknow

A 35-year-old Indian-origin doctor from Canada, who came to visit her relatives, has been tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at theKing George’s Medical University in Lucknow and her samples have been sent to Pune’s National Institute of Virology for reconfirmation, a senior doctor said on Thursday.

She has been kept in an isolation ward while her husband, who had accompanied her, has also been tested but has been found to be negative in the two tests conducted on him, Professor D Himanshu told PTI.

The 35-year-old doctor arrived in India on March 8. She was tested positive on Wednesday night and her samples have been sent for reconfirmation to NIV, Dr Himanshu said. Though she did not show any symptoms during screening at the Lucknow airport, she developed fever and cough later and contacted the doctors at KGMU, he said.

2.19 pm: Indian Customs bans passengers from 15 countries from entering duty-free area at Delhi airport

Indian Customs has barred passengers arriving from 15 nations from entering duty-free shopping area at the Delhi airport “in view of the threat from COVID-19 virus”.

Passengers arriving on flights from China, the US, Italy and South Korea, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Spain, France, Vietnam, Nepal and Thailand will not be able to enter the duty free shopping area due to operational limitations till further orders, Commissioner of Customs at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, said in a notice.

2.14 pm: Juventus defender says he’s fine after testing positive for coronavirus

Juventus defender Daniele Rugani said he was fine on Thursday, shortly after his club said he had tested positive for coronavirus, the first player in Serie A to do so.

“You’ve read the news, so I want to reassure everyone who’s worried about me, I’m fine,” Rugani said on Twitter. “I urge everyone to respect the rules, because this virus makes no distinction! Let’s do it for ourselves, for our loved ones and for those around us.”

2.02pm: Karnataka man, who left hospital abruptly, free of coronavirus, officials say

The man, who had arrived from Dubai with suspected symptoms of coronavirus, has shown no signs of the disease following tests, district officials said on Thursday.

The man had been diagnosed with a high fever after he arrived at the Mangaluru International Airport on March 8 but left the government Wenlock Hospital during the early hours of March 9 refusing to undergo tests. He was later traced and admitted to the government hospital at Bantwal on March 9, PTI reports.

He has since then been discharged from the hospital and asked to stay at home quarantined for the next 14 days, Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner Sindhu B Rupesh told reporters.

1.59 pm: Pune authorities warn of action against those revealing identity of patients

Authorities in Pune have warned of penal action against those who reveal the identity of patients testing positive for coronavirus on social media platforms.

Taking cognisance of a complaint from a relative of a Pune-based patient, who tested positive for COVID-19, divisional commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar said police have been asked to monitor social media posts and take appropriate action in such matters.

If the identity of a patient is revealed, the person and his family could face social hardships, he told PTI.

1.54 pm: South Africa reports first case of local transmission

South Africa’s health ministry on Thursday reported the first case of local transmission of the coronavirus, saying a 32-year-old man had contracted it after coming into contact with a Chinese businessman.

“All others (cases) have been by patients who had traveled abroad,” the ministry said, adding that the number of confirmed cases had risen to 17 from 13 on Wednesday.

1.41 pm: China responds after US national security adviser blames its response to outbreak

China has said US officials should focus on their own response to the coronavirus and not try to shift blame.

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien had said on Wednesday that China did not initially handle the coronavirus outbreak well, likely costing the world two months when it could have prepared and dramatically limited the outbreak.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a news conference in Beijing that such immoral and irresponsible behaviour will not help US epidemic efforts

1.29 pm: Thailand teaches people how to make cloth masks amid shortage of surgical ones

Thailand’s health authorities are encouraging people to make cloth face masks at home to guard against the spread of the coronavirus amid a shortage of surgical masks, Reuters reported.

Thailand, which has reported a total of 70 cases, put surgical masks and sanitisers under its list of controlled goods last month, after the spread of coronavirus led to shortages in stores.

Cloth masks are enough to prevent people from catching the virus via droplets from coughing or sneezing, said Panpimon Wipulakorn, Director-General for the Department of Health.

“The droplet from coughing and sneezing is around five microns and we have tested already that cloth masks can protect against droplets bigger than one micron,” Panpimon said, adding that the masks needed to be washed daily.

The official herself appeared in a public health ministry video teaching people how to make cloth masks at home. Workshops have also been set up nationwide to help produce the masks.

1.13 pm: China says it has passed peak of epidemic

China has passed the peak of the coronavirus epidemic, the National Health Commission said on Thursday, Reuters reported. The comments were made by commission spokesperson Mi Feng at a news conference.

1.09 pm: Health ministry updates Lok Sabha on coronavirus response

Union health minister Harsh Vardhan told the Lok Sabha that there were 51 testing labs and 56 collections centres across the country for coronavirus samples.

“Nearly 35,000 people across the country are under community surveillance,” he said.

“We are sharing detailed guidelines with all the states and talking to health secretaries everyday,” he said.

12.51 pm: MEA on Indian nationals in Iran

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar told the Lok Sabha that there are 6000 Indian nationals in various provinces of Iran. This includes 1100 pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Maharashtra, 300 students from J-K and about a 1000 fishermen from Tamil Nadu, Kerala & Gujarat and others who are on longer-term stay visas in Iran for pursuing their livelihood.

On evacuating Indians abroad, the minister said, “We’re at it. Please understand that we can only bring them back if they are tested, they’ve to be tested. To test them, we’ve started sampling today as we can’t bring back untested people in very severe epidemic situation as I have responsibility of this country to worry about.”

12.39 pm: Health ministry says 73 coronavirus patients in India

The Union health ministry on Thursday said there were 73 confirmed cases of coronavirus in India, including foreign national, as of 11 am on March 12.

The highest were in Kerala at 17, Uttar Pradesh has 10 while Maharashtra has 11.

Delhi has 6 patients, all India.

12.24 pm: BCCI gets health ministry advisory to avoid large gatherings

12.12 pm: No new cases reported in Kerala, says health minister

Kerala’s health minister KK Shailaja said no new cases of coronavirus were reported in the state on Wednesday.

“Of the 3,313 people under observation, 3,020 have been home quarantined and 293 hospitalised,” Shailaja said. A total of 1,179 samples have been sent for tests so far and 889 of these have returned negative, she said.

The state currently has 14 patients under treatment for covid-19.

11.43 am: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to get tested

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will be tested for the novel coronavirus, an official said on Thursday, as two key government buildings were being disinfected over an exposure scare.

The Philippines has seen a jump this week in cases, including people who recently attended events with Senate lawmakers and government officials, potentially exposing them.

In response, the Senate building and Philippine central bank were undergoing cleaning, and several officials announced they would isolate themselves as a precaution, AFP reported.

11.32 am: Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe quashes rumours

Actor Daniel Radcliffe has dismissed rumours he had coronavirus after a tweet by Twitter account pretending to be “BBC Breaking News” went viral in Britain.

11.23 am: Haryana declares coronavirus an epidemic

Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij said that the state has declared the coronavirus outbreak as an epidemic.

According to the state Health Department, 44 samples of suspected cases were sent for tests till Wednesday. Out of these, 38 were found negative for coronavirus while reports of six people were awaited, PTI reported.

11.17 am: Paralympic Committee of India puts all championships on hold

The Paralympic Committee of India (PCI) on Thursday decided to put on hold all national and state championships till April 15.

“Earlier we had asked them that if you are well-equipped, you can go ahead but now the situation is different. It has become scary. Athletes’ health is paramount. They have already lost one national (2019) and I just hope we can host these nationals later on,” PCI president Deepa Malik told PTI.

Haryana’s state championship was scheduled to begin from Friday in Faridabad.

11.05 am: Person tests ‘interim positive’ in Andhra’s Nellore

A person who recently returned from Italy has tested ‘interim positive’ for coronavirus in Andhra Pradesh, The NewsMinute reported. The patient, who is admitted to the Nellore Government General Hospital, tested positive when his sample was sent to the Viral Research and Diagnostic Lab at Sri Venkateswara Institute of Medical Sciences.

Officials have sent a fresh sample to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune and are waiting for results to officially confirm if the person is infected.

11.01 am: What happens to the IPL?

The Supreme Court has refused to accord urgent hearing on a plea seeking the deferment of IPL-2020 amid the coronavirus outbreak. The series is due to begin on March 29.

SC’s vacation bench has asked the petitioner to mention matter before regular bench on March 16, PTI reports.

A top BCCI source told PTI that no foreign player will be available for this year’s IPL till April 15 due to visa restrictions imposed by the government.

10.48 am: Swiggy, Zomato on the measure they have taken

Swiggy and Zomato told Gadgets 360 that their delivery partners had been advised on “best practices”, however delivery partners told the website that beyond the advisory, the companies hadn’t taken particular steps to make them aware of the coronavirus outbreak and how to stay safe.

Read the full report here.

10.41 am: Spectator at India-Australia Women’s T20 WC final diagnosed with COVID-19

A spectator who attended the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final between India and Australia in Melbourne on March 8 has tested positive for novel coronavirus, the Melbourne Cricket Ground said in a statement on Thursday.

“The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has advised of the patron’s diagnosis and has classified it as a low-risk of spreading COVID-19 to surrounding members of the public and staff. The patron sat on Level 2 of the Northern Stand at the MCG in section N42,” it added.

The DHHS has recommended that those seated in N42 “should continue to go about their normal routine, with an increased focus on hygiene measures, and should any flu-like symptoms emerge to consult with a medical professional.”

10.29 am: Sensex plunges 1,800 points, Rupee down 82 paise

Sensex plummeted over 1,800 points and Nifty gave up the 10,000 level in opening session on Thursday as worsening rout in world markets, after WHO declared coronavirus a pandemic, flared up fears of a global economic recession.

The rupee too plunged 82 paise to 74.50 against US dollar in morning session.

The selloff picked pace after the World Health Organization (WHO), late Wednesday night, termed the the new coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic, and expressed deep concern over the “alarming levels of inaction”.

10.14 am: These are the top five countries affected by coronavirus outside China

More than 126,000 people have been infected by the coronavirus across the world and 4,624 have died, according to a Reuters tally. The virus has been reported in 122 countries outside China.

The top 5 most affected countries are:

Italy — 12,462 patients, 827 deaths

Iran — 9,000 patients, 354 death

South Korea — 7,755 patients, 61 deaths

Spain — 2,277 patients, 55 deaths

France — 2,281 patients, 48 deaths

See this chart which tracks the spread of coronavirus worldwide.

10.06 am: Uber considers restricting access

Uber has said that based on recommendations of local public health authorities, it may restrict driver’s and passenger’s access to the platform if they test positive for coronavirus.

An Uber spokesperson said the company has formed a dedicated team of Uber operations, security and safety executives, guided by the advice of a global consulting public health expert, to respond as needed in each market where it operates in South Asia.

The company said it is supporting drivers and delivery people who are diagnosed with coronavirus or placed in quarantine by a public health authority.

9.51 am: Noida man infected with coronavirus, total 9 patients in UP

Nine patients have been confirmed in Uttar Pradesh after final test reports were received from National Institute of Virology (NIV) Pune, State Surveillance Officer, Vikasendu Agarwal told The Indian Express.

Seven belong to Agra and are relatives of the infected Delhi resident, one belongs to Ghaziabad and one is from Noida.

The Noida person was the guide of an Italian family who visited Delhi.

9.43 am: All stores in Italy except pharmacies and food markets to close

Italy’s premier Giuseppe Conte said the country must “go another step″ by closing all shops and businesses except for food stores, pharmacies and other shops selling ″essential″ items.

The tighter restrictions on daily life are the Italian government’s latest effort to respond to the fast-moving crisis that took Italy’s number of patients from three to 12,462 in less than three weeks.

9.29 am: Tokyo governor says cancelling Olympics ‘unthinkable’

“It can’t be said that the announcement of a pandemic would have no impact... But I think cancellation is unthinkable,” Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike told reporters on Thursday.

Organisers have insisted the Games will go ahead as planned and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), with whom the final decision rests, has said there has not yet been any talk of cancellation or postponement.

The IOC has said it will coordinate closely with the World Health Organization, which has now officially classified the outbreak as a pandemic.

9.15 am: What does WHO’s pandemic declaration mean?

“Pandemic” has nothing to do with how serious the illness is. It just means a disease is spreading widely.

The label triggers governments to activate preparedness plans and possibly take emergency procedures to protect the public, such as more drastic travel and trade restrictions.

9.03 am: Man with travel history to Italy is fifth coronavirus patient in Delhi

A 46-year-old man from Delhi with travel history to three countries including Italy tested positive for novel coronavirus on Wednesday, taking the number of such patients in the national capital to five, the Delhi government’s health department said.

The man, a resident of west Delhi’s Janakpuri, is admitted to RML Hospital.

There are nine members in his family and apart from his mother, others are asymptomatic, the department said.

The surveillance of 50 houses located in the neighbourhood has been done, the government said.

8. 53 am: 11 coronavirus patients in Maharashtra

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Wednesday night that two persons from Mumbai and a 45-year-old man from Nagpur had tested positive for coronavirus, taking the number of such cases in Maharashtra to 11.

Thackeray said there were eight coronavirus (COVID-19) positive patients in Pune and two in Mumbai. All ten were part of a 40-member group which recently visited a foreign country as tourists, he said.

The chief minister indicated that the ongoing budget session of the legislature, scheduled till March 20, will be curtailed and it is likely to conclude over the weekend after completion of pending business.

8.39 am: BCCI to wait a few day to decide on next course of action for IPL players

The participation of foreign players at this year’s IPL has come under doubt following the government’s fresh visa restrictions to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the BCCI will wait for the next couple of days to decide its next course of action. “Please give us two days. It’s not possible to give you concrete details at the moment,” a senior Board office bearer told PTI on Wednesday.

8. 23 am: What it’s like in Italy’s coronavirus lockdown

“Fears over public health well and truly intensified. Public facilities such as gyms, libraries, and cinemas soon followed suit. People stockpiled food from supermarkets as teams of cleaners sterilised the windows and aisles around them. Pharmacies soon ran out of hand gel and face masks. The usual busy crowds in streets and piazzas were reduced to handfuls of high school kids relishing their unexpected holiday.” Read the full story

8.11 am: NBA suspends season after player tests positive

The NBA will suspend play starting on Thursday after a Utah Jazz player preliminarily tested positive for the new coronavirus, the league said Wednesday.

The test result was reported shortly before Utah’s game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City was to begin, and that game was abruptly postponed.

7.59 am: US suspends all travel from Europe, except UK

US President Donald Trump has announced he is suspending all travel from Europe, excluding the UK, to the US for the next 30 days to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus that has claimed 37 lives and infected 1,300 in the country.

There will be exemptions for Americans returning to the US after undergoing multiple screenings, he said.

On Wednesday night, WHO announced that the new coronavirus outbreak can now be characterised as a pandemic. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in Geneva “We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus.”

7.21 am: Italian woman in Jaipur tests negative

The Italian woman who along with her husband was found to be suffering from coronavirus has tested negative for the infection twice in the past 24 hours, Additional Chief Secretary (Medical and Health) Rohit Kumar Singh said on Wednesday.

Her husband, who was the first patient to be tested positive for coronavirus, has also shown low viral load, he said.

The couple is admitted to Jaipur Sawai Man Singh Government Hospital.

7.10 am: India sending team to Italy

India will send a team of doctors to Italy on Thursday to collect swab samples of stranded Indian students for testing before they are brought back here, health ministry officials said on Wednesday.

The officials said the Indian Embassy in Italy has contacted Indian students in the country and asked them to reach to a designated venue where their samples would be collected. Over 300 Indian students are in Italy at present, according to an official.


The government has “strongly advised” Indians to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.

“All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International organisations, employment and project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure,” an official statement said.

Visa-free travel facility granted to Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) card holders is also kept in abeyance till April 15, it said.

All incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after February 15 will be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days, the statement said.

As the cases of the infection continued to swell with over 119,400 confirmed cases reported globally so far out of which over 4,300 people have succumbed to the virus, India prohibited entry of any international cruise ship, crew or passenger with a travel history to coronavirus-hit countries post February 1, 2020 to its major ports till March 31.

To prevent the spread of the deadly virus, the Ministry of Shipping said it will allow only such international cruise ships which had intimated their call to ports by January 1, 2020.

The government said international cruise ships will be allowed only at ports having thermal screening facilities for passengers and crew members.

An Air India flight carrying 83 people, including nine foreigners of Indian origin, arrived here on Wednesday from Italy and have been quarantined at the Army facility in Manesar near Delhi, officials said.

The evacuees will be monitored for two weeks by a qualified team of doctors and staff members, to watch for any signs of infection.“If any individual is suspected to be infected, he/she will be shifted to an isolation facility,” an official added.

The first batch of 58 evacuees from Iran had arrived on Tuesday with 25 men, 31 women and 2 children on board and all evacuees are asymptomatic at present, the external affairs ministry said.

So far, India has evacuated 948 passengers from COVID-19 affected countries. Out of these, 900 are Indian citizens and 48 belonging to different nationalities including Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, USA, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru, it said.

The ministry further said that a total number of 10,57,506 passengers have been screened so far at the airport.

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This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost India, which closed in 2020. Some features are no longer enabled. If you have questions or concerns about this article, please contact