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Coronavirus positive cases rise to 84 in India: Top developments

Coronavirus positive cases rise to 84 in India: Top developments

The number of positive coronavirus cases in India rose to 84 on Saturday with a new case being confirmed in New Delhi. The patient was among those admitted at the Manesar facility on Wednesday after being evacuated from coronavirus-hit Italy. He was later shifted to Safdarjung late night on Friday.

India also recorded the second death due to the novel coronavirus pandemic after a 68-year-old woman from West Delhi died at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. This comes a day after a 76-year-old man, who died on his way from Hyderabad to his hometown Kalaburagi (Karnataka) Tuesday, was confirmed to have tested positive.

With the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health Research and the Indian Council of Medical Research (DHR-ICMR) will now take over a thousand samples of influenza- or pneumonia-like illnesses from patients without any travel history or contact with infected persons to rule out community transmission of coronavirus.

A network of 65 laboratories will now test 20 samples each week — 10 of influenza-like illnesses and 10 of severe acute respiratory infection — for Covid-19. Senior ICMR scientist Nivedita Gupta on Friday said the exercise was being done to document if community transmission was happening in any region of the country.

ICMR's director-general Dr Balram Bhargava said India has not reached the stage of community transmission yet, but countries like Italy, China, the US, and UK have entered it. "That's why we feel that we will go through that stage too, but if we can prevent it, that window of opportunity is now… If we manage for 30 days, and community transmission does not happen for another 30 days we may be at a good wicket (a better position)," he said.

India has also become the fifth country to isolate the virus after China, Japan, the US and Thailand, ICMR's director general Dr Balram Bhargava said, adding that the strain of virus isolated is "99.99 per cent similar" to that in Wuhan.

With the virus now isolated, authorities can begin working on a vaccine for it. Bhargava said, "We have the virus available with us, and that can help us develop more rapid diagnostic kits and could pave the way for vaccine development in future, which is still far away and every country is working towards that."

Internationally, the Indian Embassy in the US on Saturday asked the large Indian students' community to avoid all non-essential domestic and international travel. This comes after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency to combat the novel coronavirus. There are over 200,000 Indian students studying in various educational institutions and universities in the US.

Air India will also send a flight to Milan (Italy) today to bring back stranded Indians. It will land on Sunday morning at Delhi airport. "The flight would take off in afternoon and would be landing on Sunday morning at Delhi Airport," informed Rubina Ali, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation.

In light of the increasing coronavirus cases in the world, the US Embassy and Consulates in India Saturday cancelled the immigrant and non-immigrant visa appointments from March 16 onward. A statement issued by the US Embassy here said, "US Mission India posts, in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, are cancelling immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments from March 16, 2020, onward."

In a statement, the Embassy said that once Mission India resumes on a regular basis, travelers can make appointments and can reschedule their travel.

A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed that leaders from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries should chalk out a plan to fight the coronavirus pandemic, starting with a discussion via "video-conferencing", Pakistan Saturday said it will participate in the video conferencing.

The neighbouring country responded positively to PM Modi's suggestion, acknowledging that coordinated efforts were needed to minimise the threat spread by the virus.

Among SAARC nations, India has so far recorded 83 positive cases followed by Pakistan (20), Maldives (8), Afghanistan (7), Bangladesh (3), Sri Lanka (2), and Nepal and Bhutan (1 each).

The Infosys on Saturday decided to vacate one of its satellite buildings in Bengaluru after one of its employees came in contact with a suspected COVID-19 case. "Infosys has taken a decision to evacuate one of our satellite buildings as a precautionary measure, as one of our employees had been in contact with an individual with suspected COVID-19. Please note that this is to ensure the safety of our employees and undertake a comprehensive disinfection exercise at our facility. Employees have been directed to work from home, and there is no impact on our client deliverables as a result of this temporary evacuation," a statement by the company read.

Meanwhile, another Bengaluru-based startup has shifted its office 480 kilometers away to a farm located in the foothills of the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu in a bid to keep their employees "safe and away from panic-situations". The 12-member team of Vumonic Data Labs, which is originally based in HSR Layout in the city, has been working on a farm in Thevaram, a town in Theni district since March 2.

(INputs and image from theindianexpress.com)

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