COVID-19 updates (Updated daily): PM to address nation at 10 am tomorrow | Rapid testing kits from China delayed


March 31, 2020 | Number of cases: 1251 | Number of deaths: 32

As COVID-19 cases spike in India, with a single day jump of over 200 positive cases, the government is amping up quarantine efforts and creation of isolation wards. To this end, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) is set to hand over the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium to the Delhi government for the creation of quarantine facilities for coronavirus positive patients. Facilities across the country owned by SAI will be available for this purpose, as announced by the Sports Ministry. 

Efforts have intensified to trace contacts of those who attended a large religious gathering at the Tabligh-e-Jamaat in west Nizamuddin, New Delhi, after six individuals who were part of the gathering died due to COVID-19 in Telangana on Monday. The gathering is also said to be the hotspot of various infections across the south indian states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh along with Jammu and Kashmir and Andamans. 

The Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, has ordered for an FIR to be registered against the Jamaat for arranging a huge gathering. The event at the Jamaat took place before the nationwide lockdown, but after the Delhi government ordered that the gathering in the capital be limited to less than 50 persons. Close to 1500 persons are said to have attended the event at the Jamaat.

Squashing rumours that the new financial year will commence only after the passing of the threat posed by the coronavirus, the Union Finance Ministry issued a notification that the new financial year will commence on April 1st. The days prior to the notification saw rumours abound on social media that the start of the financial year will be pushed to July 1st. The rumours stemmed from a notification that was specifically intended to announce a change the date for collection of stamp duty. This announcement was made on February 15th, much before the outbreak.

Binita Parikh writes from Ahmedabad:

The Gujarat government has roped in local business communities to ensure that the supply of essential commodities reaches the market and the people. Special parcel trains are running between different destinations in the state for transportation of various commodities and the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and other business associations have been roped in to ensure that traders and businesses take advantage of these special trains to deliver foodgrains and other needed essentials to different parts of the city and state.

The divisional commercial manager, assistant commercial managers and the parcel supervisors of the railways have been made responsible for facilitation of transit of essential commodities. “Interested parties can book a single parcel or a full coach to any of the in-between stations, up and down,” said Tanmay Mehta, Secretary General of the Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Gujarat government has released 500 prisoners in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, to ensure health of all prisoners and avoid overcrowding in jails. Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had earlier announced that 1200 prisoners will be released for two months on parole/bail in adherence to the Supreme Court’s March 23rd directive to the states to decongest jails to reduce the possibility of spread of COVID-19.

About 400 undertrials were released on interim bail and about 100 convicts were released on parole on the evening of March 30th. Convicts and undertrials facing up to seven years of imprisonment were released, according to officials. The released prisoners were made to undergo a thorough check up by doctors before they were released. They were given masks. Bail conditions include regular reporting at the nearest police station.

The district collector has also clarified that no house owner can evict people living on rent in their property and that builders will be held responsible for ensuring workers at their construction sites are paid their daily wages.

Meanwhile, two government officers were served notice under the “Epidemic Act, 1897” for not reporting on duty.

The health department announced that three new cases were reported in the state taking the total affected to 73, while five patients were discharged. The state has reported a total of six deaths since the outbreak. Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar reported two new cases each. A new helpline number 1100, for physical and psychological well-being of people is now functional, announced Principal health secretary Jayanti Ravi.

Ahmedabad has been declared one of 10 major hotspots for Covid-19 in India, along with Dilshad Garden and Basti in Nizamuddin in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bhilwara in Rajasthan.

Last updated, March 31st, 5:30 pm

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