Coronavirus cases see record jump with 2,411 infections, 71 deaths in 24 hrs; barber shops, sale of non-essentials by e-retailers allowed in green, orange zones, says MHA

India on Saturday registered a record jump of 2,411 new coronavirus cases and  71 deaths, taking the total number of infections in the country to 37,776 and the toll to 1,223.

Meanwhile, migrant workers stranded in different states since the imposition of the lockdown began their journey homes in special ‘shramik trains’.

Case count surges to 37,776, toll reaches 1,223

According to the 5 pm update issued by the Union health ministry, the number of infections in the country jumped to 37,776 while the toll rose to 1,223. Over 10,000 persons have been cured of the disease and the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country stands at 26,535, it said.

Of the total fatalities, the highest have been reported in Maharashtra (485), followed by Gujarat (236), Madhya Pradesh (145) , Rajasthan (62) and Delhi (61).

Maharashtra continues to have the highest number of infections with 11,506 cases reported from the state. Gujarat has reported a total of 4,721 cases, followed by Delhi (3,738), Madhya Pradesh (2,719) and Rajasthan (2,666).

According to the Uttar Pradesh health department, 127 more people tested positive for COVID-19 in the state on Saturday, pushing the number of confirmed cases to 2,455. Forty-three deaths have so far been reported and 656 patients treated and discharged from hospitals. So far, COVID-19 cases have been reported in 64 of the 75 districts in the state, officials said.

In Delhi, 68 more personnel attached to a CRPF battalion tested positive for the novel coronavirus, taking the total number of those afflicted in the battalion to 122. A total of 127 CRPF personnel have so far contracted the disease, including one death and one recovery, ANI quoted the CRPF as saying.

In Maharashtra, as many as 56 persons were discharged from a civic-run hospital in Thane’s Mira Bhayander area at the same time, including a three-year-old girl and three septuagenarians.

Meanwhile, 20 visitors to the Gurdwara Langar Sahib in Nanded tested positive for the disease. The gurdwara had been shut on Friday after several pilgrims from Punjab, who returned to their state after visiting this shrine, tested coronavirus positive, officials had said.

On Saturday, Kerala, too, reported two positive cases — one from Wayanad and one from Kannur — taking the total number of cases in the state to 499. With Wayanad reporting a positive case after a month, the district was moved from the green to the orange zone, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said.

Barber shops, home delivery of non-essential items allowed in green and orange zones, clarifies MHA

A day after issuing fresh guidelines for the lockdown, the Ministry of Home Affairs clarified that barber shops and salons will be allowed to open in green and orange zones during the third phase of the lockdown beginning 4 May, besides sale of non-essential items by e-commerce platforms.

However, barber shops, saloons will continue to be prohibited in red zones and  e-commerce companies are allowed to sell only essential commodities in such areas, said the ministry.

The MHA on Friday, while extending the lockdown for two more weeks till 17 May, had lifted many restrictions in green and orange zones.

Sale of liquor is allowed in non containment areas of green, orange and red zones through stand alone shops and not in malls or shopping complexes, it further clarified.

In liquor shops, customers will have to maintain minimum six feet distance from each other, and also ensure that not more than five persons are present at one time at the shop.

On allowing domestic maids to work in red zones, a home ministry official said the RWAs should take a call  regarding allowing the movement of outsiders. But health protocols have to be maintained by domestic helps as well as employers, and the responsibility lies with the person who employs maids in case of any mishaps.

According to the home ministry, travel by road (inter-state), rail and air and metro are banned across the country during the lockdown.

The home ministry, however, may give permission in special cases depending on the urgency.

According to ANI, the ministry added that in orange zones, inter-district  and intra-district plying of buses remains prohibited. Taxis and cab aggregators are allowed to ply, with a restriction of two passengers apart from the driver in each vehicle only.  Inter-district movement of private cars in such zones is allowed only for permitted activities, with maximum two passengers, besides the driver.

MMR, Pune ‘no-go’, says Maharashtra govt

Based on the orders issued by the Centre, states also issued guideline for the third phase on the nationwide lockdown. The Maharashtra government said that in the cities with police commissionerates, a concerned deputy commissioner of police (DCP) will have the power to allow inter-state or inter-district journey. But the movement of people will not be allowed between the areas under Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority and Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority and other parts of the state during lockdown, it said.

The Karnataka government, too issued revised guidelines which will come into force from 4 May.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government launched an exercise to open liquor shops in the National Capital in accordance with the latest guidelines issued by the home ministry.

The excise department has directed four government-run agencies, which are responsible to sell liquor in the city, to identify such outlets which fulfil all conditions prescribed by the  MHA.

DCGA extends suspension of flights till 17 May

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)  issued a circular to extend the suspension of domestic and international commercial flight operations till 17 May. However, the restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by the DGCA.

Migrant workers head back in ‘shramik trains’

 A health worker sanitizes migrants who have arrived from Jaipur by 'Shramik Special' train at Danapur junction in Patna. PTI

The first ‘Shramik Special’ train carrying 1,187 stranded migrant labourers from Jaipur reached the Danapur railway station in Patna on Saturday afternoon.

Another special train train carrying over 300 stranded labourers from Nashik in Maharashtra reached Misrod Station on the outskirts of Bhopal.

“We have started screening these passengers brought here from Nashik in the special train. After that, they will be sent to their respective towns in different buses,” a district administration officer told PTI.

This is the first special train which reached Bhopal after the Centre’s announcement to run such services to facilitate the stranded labourers and workers.

A special train with 847 migrants also departed for Lucknow from Nashik in around 10 am on Saturday, said the Central Railway. Similar ‘Shramik trains’ are also set to provide connectivity between states such as Gujarat and Uttra Pradesh, Kerala and Jharkhand, among others.

However, the problems faced by migrant workers continued to make it to the headlines with a migrant worker cycling from his workplace in Delhi to home in Bihar dying in UP’s Saharanpur.

Dharamveer, along with a few other labourers, had started their journey from Delhi to Khagaria district in Bihar on bicycles on 28 April, PTI quotes police as saying.

“On Friday night, they halted on the Delhi-Lucknow highway in Shahjahanpur. When the condition of Dharamveer deteriorated, the labourers took him to the medical college where he was declared brought dead,” said Circle Officer (city) Praveen Kumar.

In another case, 18 people, including 14 migrant labourers, were found to be travelling inside a cement mixer from Maharashtra to Uttar Pradesh. “During the routine check-up at Panth Piplai village, about 35 kilometres from Indore, we stopped a truck laden with a cement-mixer on suspicion. After opening the lid, we found 18 people inside,” Traffic Police sub-inspector Amit Kumar Yadav told PTI.

Meanwhile, the Odisha government issued a standard operating procedure (SOP) for sending “guest workers” in the state to their home states by road or rail. The state government appointed nodal officers in charge of workers for different states and said the the prior approval of recipient states was necessary for sending back the stranded workers.

Modi holds review meeting on agricultural reforms, MSMEs

Prime Minister Narendra Modi  deliberated on ways to reform the agriculture sector with emphasis on agriculture marketing, access of farmers to institutional credit and freeing the sector of various restrictions with appropriate backing of laws.

The government has maintained that the country’s farm sector is functioning smoothly despite the COVID-19 lockdown and there will not be much impact on its growth in the current fiscal, unlike other sectors.

The pros and cons of bio-technological developments in crops or enhancement of productivity and reduction in input costs was also deliberated, an official statement said.

Concessional credit flow to strengthen agriculture infrastructure, special Kisan Credit Card saturation drive for PM-Kisan beneficiaries and facilitating inter and intra-state trade of agriculture produce to ensure fairest return to farmers were some of the other important areas covered, the statement said.

Developing eNAM or the National Agriculture Market into a “platform of platforms” to enable e-commerce was one of the important topics of discussion on Saturday.

The prime minister also held a meeting to discuss ways to strengthen the MSME sector.

With inputs from agencies

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