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

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK IN INDIA (updated 13th April 2020)

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April 6, 2020 | Number of cases: 4067| Number of deaths: 109

The Wockhardt hospital in Mumbai Central has been declared a containment zone after as many as 26 nurses and three doctors tested positive for COVID-19. Out-patient consultations have been suspended and a lockdown has been imposed on close to 270 persons including patients and health workers. 

All individuals in the containment zone will be tested for COVID-19. They will only be allowed to move freely on testing negative twice. The infection in the facility is said to have spread from a 70-year old heart patient who tested positive. The nurses who cared for him also tested positive subsequently. The health workers alleged that proper protective gear was not available to them and the hospital failed to quarantine close contacts of the infected nurses resulting in further spread of the virus. 

The Union Cabinet has approved of a 30% cut in salary of all MPs, Ministers, Governors, the Prime Minister and the President for one year with effect from April 1. The Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) has also been put on hold for the years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. The money will be diverted to the consolidated fund. The MPLADS funds alone will add Rs7900 crores. 

Indian railways has converted 2500 coaches into isolation wards after a successful prototype had been made last month. The coaches have been readied as a contingency measure to supplement any necessary health infrastructure for treating patients. The target set by the railways is the conversion of 5000 coaches that will provide close to 80000 beds. The railways is creating 375 such coaches in a day at 133 locations across the country.

The power grid across the country survived the Prime Minister’s call for solidarity – Diya Jalao on April 5. People responded to the call by turning off lights and lighting lamps or candles to show unity in the time of crisis. This concerted effort at 9pm however resulted in a 32GW (giga watts) drop in demand on the power grid. Such sudden drop in demand and subsequent rise as people turned their lights back on had to be carefully managed. The effort saw coordination between power grid operators and coal, gas, hydro, nuclear and green energy sources. The power sector operators received praise for their handling of the unprecedented situation without disruption to the power supply.

On Sunday, April 5th, Rohit Ghosh from Lucknow wrote about the supply of ration:

For, Shiv Kumari, 35, buying ration in the past meant standing in the queue for long hours. But she had no problem in getting the extra ration being distributed as part of the relief package announced by the finance minister recently. She got all that had been promised from the ration shop on April 3rd quickly and smoothly. “Thankfully, now I have rice and wheat. We won’t starve.” The presence of police nearby no doubt helped.  “Today my experience at the shop was a good one,” echoed Sushil Mishra, a ration card holder. “I hope this system continues once the lockdown is lifted as well”.

Buyers of PDS foodgrains had often in the past complained of poor quality. But few were complaining about quality this time. Abhishekh Prakash, Lucknow district magistrate, told Citizen Matters that the local administration had taken all steps to ensure quality and smooth supply of food grains. “All the shops were stocked by the evening of March 31 and were open from 6 am, starting April 1st”.

The fair price shops stayed open till 2 pm though other markets are open only till 10 am. Prakash visited several shops in the city on April 3rd to keep a tab on the situation. B L Singh, district supply officer (DSO), Lucknow added that these shops will remain open every day throughout April.

Of Lucknow’s five million population, close to seven lakh families have ration cards and are served by 1242 fair price shops. The additional 5 kg of foodgrains promised by the Centre is yet to arrive. “We are likely to receive the extra quota that has to be distributed as additional ration by April 15th,” said Singh. “We will start distributing it immediately.” Police personnel have been told not to stop those going or returning from PDS shops.

But Shiv Kumari has a small worry. “Where will I get the wheat crushed?” she asked. “Most shops where wheat can be crushed are shut. But I will somehow manage.”

Last updated, April 6th, 6:00 pm

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