NEWS IN BRIEF
On March 25, only one district in Karnataka — Bengaluru Urban — was reporting more than 15 active Covid-19 cases. Halfway through April, Mysuru and Belagavi had joined the capital city in the red zone. By Monday, three more districts joined the perilous ranks: Vijayapura, Bagalkot and Kalaburagi. Meanwhile, 13 districts entered the green zone from the yellow zone.
PM Modi, while interacting with CMs on Monday, is learnt to have suggested that states should explore the possibility of attracting investments in view of the likelihood of many companies exiting from Chinese cities in the wake of coronavirus. The govt has also blocked the automatic route for FDI from nations which share land borders with India (read China).
While India records a death rate of 3.1% for Covid-19 patients, this is much higher at 4.71% for patients in Ahmedabad. Against 899 deaths in 28,622 cases in India, Ahmedabad recorded 102 deaths of 2,167 cases till Monday. This is higher than Mumbai which has recorded 204 deaths out of 5,407( 3.77%) and Delhi’s deaths of 54 to the infected 2,919 cases ( 1.85%).
Officials in Tamil Nadu’s border district of Vellore surprised everyone recently by building two concrete walls overnight on roads near the Andhra Pradesh border. This hindered traffic to Vellore, famous for its super-speciality medical services. Meanwhile, Odisha had dug up some border roads after Srikakulam in AP started reporting Covid-19 cases recently.
The sum of consultations PM Modi had with chief ministers on Monday, official sources said, was that most states wanted the lockdown to continue with some easing of curbs, depending on the situation in a particular area. Green zones may witness the piecemeal lifting of restrictions while tough stipulations will remain in red zones like Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan fell by nearly a third in the first quarter of 2020 when compared to the same period last year, representing the lowest first-quarter figure since 2012, as per UN. Despite that, 533 Afghan civilians were killed highlighting the urgent need for all parties to the conflict to do more to protect civilians from harm.
India’s Covid-19 count inched close to the 30,000-mark and Monday’s death toll from the virus zoomed to 58, the highest reported so far in a single day; total 937 deaths reported in India. Other than Maharashtra, Gujarat which have continuously reported cases, Bihar and Jharkhand recorded their highest single-day tallies of 68 and 20 new cases, respectively.
The Niti Aayog building in the National Capital has been sealed for 48 hours, after a director level officer tested positive for coronavirus, a senior official said on Tuesday. A director level officer working at Niti Bhawan has been tested positive for COVID-19. Today at 9 am, he got his report, and then he informed authorities," Alok Kumar adviser at Niti Aayog told PTI.
Listing "startling" numbers, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said one of every five young people was already not in education, training or employment and one of every four is affected by violence or conflict. The UN chief said that failure to address these issues by those in power today makes it "all too easy for extremist groups to exploit the anger".
WhatsApp has finally rolled out support for 8 simultaneous users in a group video call. The feature is, for now, available only to iPhone users. It's live with WhatsApp update v2.20.50. Also, as per WhatsApp release notes, all users need to be on this version for the feature to work. With the feature live on iOS, Android users too can expect it soon.
Reliance Industries (RIL) is planning a rights issue — its first fund-raise from the public in 29 years. The company has not disclosed the amount of money it plans to raise through the rights offer or any other details about it. RIL said its board will meet on April 30 to “consider a proposal to issue equity shares to existing shareholders on rights basis”.
As some US states and European countries moved gradually Monday to ease their limits on movement and commerce, the intensifying outbreak in Brazil -with 211 million people -- pushed some hospitals to the breaking point, with signs that a growing number of victims now dying at home. Brazil officially reported about 4,500 deaths and around 67,000 confirmed cases.
The novel coronavirus, first reported in China in December 2019, has mutated into 10 different types and one of them — A2a — has nearly replaced all the others to become dominant across geographical regions, says a global study by an Indian institute. The A2a mutation is highly efficient in entering human lung cells in larger numbers; more efficient than SARS-CoV.
It will be difficult for Tokyo to host the Olympic Games next year unless there is an effective vaccine against the coronavirus, the head of the Japan Medical Association said. "I am not saying that Japan should or shouldn't host the Olympics, but that it would be difficult to do so," JMA president Yoshitake Yokokura said. He also advised increasing testing.
Dutee Chand is an unhappy person these days. She is counting her losses post the Tokyo Olympics postponement due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdown in India. The loss is not only monetary but the time and effort India's premier sprinter invested in preparing for the Games since October last has also been weighing heavily on her mind.
Rights activists had a tough time getting the Supreme Court to entertain their PILs on migrant workers’ plight and demand for payment of minimum wages to them. Brushing aside criticism that the SC was blindly toeing the Union government line during the Covid-19 pandemic, CJI SA Bobde on Monday said the executive should decide deployment of men, money and material.
The first credible report that something was wrong with Kim Jong Un came from Daily NK that said he underwent a "cardiovascular surgical procedure" the previous week and was now mostly recovered. Hours later, CNN report suggested he was in "grave danger" after surgery. Other theories include that he might be in self-quarantine or got injured in a military drill.
WhatsApp’s new restrictions to curb misinformation has shown quick results. The new restrictions, which were implemented earlier this month, have caused a 70% drop in the number of ‘highly forwarded messages’ sent on the platform. On April 7, the company had said messages that are forwarded five times or more, can be sent to only one person or a group at a time.
For someone who is known to be a stickler for routine, life during lockdown can get frustrating. India Test opener Mayank Agarwal, however, has done well to fight the blues. But given the prevailing circumstances, Mayank hasn't had a nets session in five weeks but has embraced the situation, is grateful for what he has, living in the present not the future.
“I can't tell you exactly - yes, I do have a very good idea but I can't talk about it now. I just wish him well,” said US President Donald Trump amid rumours about the ill health of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The rumours began after he missed the April 15 commemoration of the 108th birthday of his grandfather. North Korea has not dispelled the rumours.
The Indian Council of Medical Research dismissed as “fake news” the charge that it had paid Rs 4,500 for Covid-19 test kits it sourced from China as a controversy of sorts erupted over alleged profiteering by suppliers of the device crucial for the fight against the pandemic. The ICMR also said it had paid no money for faulty kits procured from China.
India has for the first time emerged among the top three nations in the world in terms of military expenditure, though the US spends more than 10 times and China almost four times its defence budget. Global think-tank SIPRI 's data released early on Monday shows the total global military expenditure rose to $1,917 billion in 2019, an increase of 3.6% from 2018.
US Prez Donald Trump has ruled out making any changes in the date of the November 3 presidential election because of the coronavirus pandemic. “I never even thought of changing the date of the election. Why would I do that? November 3, it's a good number,” Trump said. His likely Democratic opponent Joe Biden last week said Trump was considering changing the date.
Education institutions, shopping malls, religious places and public transport are likely to remain shut beyond May 3 when the ongoing lockdown due to coronavirus pandemic is slated to end, officials said. There were enough indications to this effect at the three-hour-long meeting of chief ministers convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday.
Getting infected by coronavirus is not a stigma, which should be addressed through an intensive campaign, said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, Union ministry of health on Monday. "We've to understand that there is no risk of transmission from recovered patients. They, in fact, can be a potential source of healing for antibodies using plasma therapy," he said.
The PCB banned Umar Akmal from all forms of the game for 3 years, two months after initiating an anti-corruption investigation against the batsman. The PCB charged him for two breaches of Article 2.4.4 of its Anti-Corruption Code in two unrelated incidents in February this year ahead of the Pakistan Super League - a T20 event also featuring international cricketers.
The ICMR on Monday asked states to stop using the Covid-19 rapid antibody test kits procured from two Chinese companies and return them to be sent back to the suppliers. "Because of the due process followed (not going for procurement with 100 per cent advance amount), GoI does not stand to lose a single rupee," the government said.
As India enters final week of the lockdown, PM Modi on Monday conveyed to chief ministers that the country will have to give importance to the economy as well as to continue the fight against coronavirus. In a video conference with CMs, Modi highlighted the importance for states to enforce prescribed guidelines strictly in the coronavirus hotspots.
The head of the World Health Organization warned on Monday that the new coronavirus pandemic was far from over and said that he was "deeply concerned" about the impact of the disruption of normal health services, especially on children. "We have a long road ahead of us and a lot of work to do," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
A total of 6,184 Covid-19 patients have recovered so far, taking the recovery rate in the country to 22.17%, the health ministry said on Monday. 16 districts which earlier had positive cases have not reported any new Covid-19 case in the last 28 days. A total of 85 districts in 25 states and UTs have not reported any fresh case in the last 14 days.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday alleged that the Centre was making contradictory statements on enforcement of the lockdown, and wanted greater clarity on the recent MHA order on reopening shops. "If you open shops, how would you enforce lockdown? I think the Centre should come out with a clarification," Banerjee said.
The Delhi Police Special Cell has arrested Shifa-Ur-Rahman, president of Jamia Alumni Association for charges of conspiracy during the Delhi violence. Police sources said that Shifa-ur-Rahman was called for questioning on Sunday during which cops found a number of incriminating evidences against him following which he was arrested.
India is considering a proposal to guarantee as much as Rs 3 lakh crore of loans to small businesses as part of a plan to restart its economy, which is reeling under the impact of a 40-day lockdown, people with knowledge of the matter said. Under the proposal, small firms will be eligible to borrow an additional 20% of their credit limit, the sources said.
RCB teammates AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli have put up equipments -- that were used during their historic partnership against Gujarat Lions in 2016 edition of the IPL -- on auction in order to raise funds for fight against coronavirus pandemic. De Villiers announced all the proceeds will go to both the countries in their respective fights against the crisis.
The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses from the Centre and DGCA on a plea seeking directions to airlines operating domestic and international fights in India to refund full amount collected for tickets due to cancellation of flights in wake of the lockdown and restrictions imposed to contain Covid-19 pandemic.
Ten members of Tablighi Jamaat, who attended its congregation and tested positive for Covid-19 have come forward and donated their plasma to treat severally-ill coronavirus patients in the national capital. Sources said those who have come forward to donate their plasma have recovered from Covid-19 at the Sultanpuri and Narela quarantine centres.
Haryana minister Anil Vij has appealed to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to make staying arrangements for Haryana residents who are employed in the national capital, stating that their daily movement increases the risk of Covid-19 spread. The minister said that many who work in Delhi and stay in Haryana, are "corona-carriers".
Meeting India's fiscal deficit target in the current financial year is going to be challenging and the central bank has not yet made a decision on its monetisation, RBI governor Shaktikanta Das said. India has spent more than a month in lockdown, with its industries shut, to stem the coronavirus pandemic that has caused 26,496 infections and 824 deaths.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held a video conference with chief ministers to discuss the situation arising due to the coronavirus pandemic in the country, which has been under a lockdown since March 25 to contain the spread of the virus, amid indications that the interaction would also focus on a graded exit from the ongoing lockdown.
The Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers of the Indian Army has created a remote-controlled vehicle to deliver essential items to frontline healthcare staff and others. The ADGPI Indian Army showcased images of remote-operated trolley that comes equipped with a wash basin and dustbin. The trolley looks basic and is improvised with electrical fittings.
The director of Gujarat Biotechnology Research Centre said that analysis abroad had shown that L-type strain had been dominant where more mortality was reported among Covid-19 positive patients. It was the same strain which was prevalent in Wuhan of China. He confirmed that the genome sequencing of Covid-19 virus at the GBRC indicated that it was L-strain.
The pleasure of online ludo game turned intensely bitter for a couple in Vadodara after the man mercilessly thrashed his wife who defeated him consecutively in the game. The 24-year-old woman suffered severe spinal cord injuries. Wanting her husband to stay indoors instead of spending time with others in their society, she had coaxed him to play ludo on the mobile phone.
In a letter to around 1,35,000 staff of Airbus, chief executive Guillaume Faury described the coronavirus situation as "a global crisis on a scale never before experienced by our generation." He said, "The survival of Airbus is in question if we don’t act now. It’s on us to find a way through this crisis and emerge from it, wounded but alive."
The SC has refused to entertain a plea seeking directions to the government & other authorities to ensure free unlimited calling, data usage and DTH facilities to ease "psychological stress" during the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. "What kind of petitions are being filed?", observed the SC bench which was hearing the plea through video-conferencing.
PM Boris Johnson on Monday warned against relaxing the coronavirus restrictions too soon as the country was still facing a moment of "maximum risk", in his first remarks since returning to work after contracting the disease that has killed over 20,000 in the UK. The UK PM urged the British public to contain their impatience against the crippling lockdown.
A Covid-19 laboratory has been set up in the Union territory of Ladakh to ensure timely and cost-effective sample testing, officials said on Monday. Earlier, the samples had to be sent to Delhi leading to delays and heavy expenditure, they said. The Covid-19 testing laboratory, first such facility in the UT, was set up with the help of Pernod Ricard India foundation.
In a big relief for mutual fund investors, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday announced a special liquidity facility (SLF-MF) of Rs 50,000 crore with a view to ease liquidity pressures on mutual funds (MFs) which have cropped up as a result of heightened volatility in capital markets due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
South Korea's government has dismissed rumours that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in fragile condition, as speculation about his health intensifies amid the North's silence on his whereabouts. There are concerns, particularly in Seoul and Washington, about what would happen to North Korea and its nuclear programme if anything had actually happened to Kim.
Mayawati asked the central and state govts to make proper arrangements for food for thousands of poor migrant labourers and also provide financial assistance to them. "How will these people, suffering from hunger, be able to increase there immunity and save themselves from the deadly coronavirus? When will the foodgrains stored in government warehouses be used?" she asked.
Leading FMCG companies as Nestle India and Godrej Consumers Products Ltd are providing special insurance covers to their 'frontline' workforce, including those of distributors, engaged in supply and distribution of products during the coronavorus pandemic. The companies have tailored special schemes in collaboration with many insurance firms for the frontline workforce.