New Delhi, Mar 15
The number of positive coronavirus cases in the country climbed to 107, including foreign nationals, even as the Central and State Governments ramped up efforts to fight the highly contagious disease. Two persons have died of the disease in Delhi and Karnataka.
At 31, Maharashtra reported the most number of coronavirus positive cases, followed by Kerala at 22 and Uttar Pradesh at 11. Out of the 107 cases, 17 are foreign nationals.
India has already decla-red coronavirus a disaster, the Centre has also declared masks and hand sanitizers as essential commodities under Essential Commodities Act up to June 30, 2020. Under the Essential Commodities Act, States can ask manufacturers to enhance their production capacity of these items, to make the supply chain smooth.
Proposed by Prime Minister Modi, a video conference of Saarc leaders to frame a strategy to counter the coronavirus will be held on Sunday evening, said people familiar with the development. While the top leaders of six Saarc States agreed to Modi’s suggestion for forging a joint strategy on Covid-19, Pakistan announced shortly after mid- night on Friday that it would participate in the video conference.
Earlier, PM Modi announced that no Minister in his Government will travel abroad in the coming days “to break the chain of spread” and also nudged fellow countrymen to “avoid non-essential travel”. He further advised people to “avoid large gatherings” and not to panic.
Union Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey said the Government has issued an advisory asking civil hospitals and medical colleges to set up isolation wards.
“We are trying our best to contain the spread of coronavirus which has spread to 12 States,” said the Minister.
The coronavirus has so far taken over 5,500 lives globally and spread to more than 100 countries, where close to 150,000 people are now infected. Europe has been named the new epicentre of the disease by the WHO.
Telangana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Goa joined the list of States that have shut down schools and other public places which could potentially become centres of mass transfer of the highly contagious infection.
The Karnataka Government on Saturday said it would advice IT companies to allow employees to work from home as most coronavirus affected patients or their relatives were from this sector.
The Central Railway and Western Railway have withdrawn curtains from AC coaches in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“As per the extant instructions, curtains and blankets provided in AC coaches are not washed every trip. In order to prevent spread of COVID-19, blankets and curtains should be immediately withdrawn from service till further orders,” said Western Railway PRO (Public Relations Officer).
“Passengers should be advised to bring their own blankets in their own interest. Wide publicity should be given to this effect. Some quantity of additional bed-sheets may be kept for any exigencies,” the official added.
Union Health Ministry official said seven positive cases, including five from Uttar Pradesh and one each from Rajasthan and Delhi, have been discharged after treatment.
The Union Health Ministry has begun working on framing guidelines for handling the bodies of those who die of the disease.
Though it is unlikely that coronavirus infection could spread from handling of a body, the guidelines are being drafted to dispel any misconception and raise awareness regarding spread of the disease from a deceased, a Health Ministry official said.
“Coronavirus infection is a respiratory disease which spreads through droplets and the probability of mortuary or disposal staff contracting the virus from the dead is unlikely as against the case of high-risk pathogens like Ebola and Nipah which have very high chances of spreading through direct contact with body-fluids of the deceased,” the Health Ministry official said.