Cut public transport use to prevent spread: Centre

New Delhi, March 18 The government today pulled out all the stops in intensifying efforts to prevent further transmission of Covid-19 by asking states to minimise the use of public transport. This effectively means curbs on metros and bus transport.

SURVEY

  • 52% of Indians born between 1946-1964 are least fearful of contracting virus

  • More than 53% urban Indians are scared of being infected; 38% are not worried

  • Fear levels are higher among women compared to men (59% against 47%)

  • North India most panic-stricken with 61% residents saying they are very scared

Punjab man ends life A suspected Covid patient, hailing from Punjab's Balachaur, committed suicide by jumping off the seventh floor of a Delhi hospital

With Covid-19 positive cases reaching 151 as of Wednesday, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways asked the states to minimise travelling by public and consider refunding fare for advance bookings by people to discourage travel. "States and UTs have also been requested to make arrangements for sending SMSs to passengers for making them aware of social distancing steps," said the ministry's letter to state principal secretaries, secretaries (transport) and transport commissioners.

Army cancels leave

The Army on Wednesday issued instructions to allow leave to its personnel only under exceptional circumstances

As of now, the Covid-19 transmission in India is at stage 2, which means all infections are imported or through contact with people who have come back from virus-affected countries. The next step in disease transmission -- stage 3 -- is what Government is gearing for. "There is no evidence of community transmission.

We have set up sentinel surveillance sites to find if the virus is transmitting in the community. Final results are awaited. All steps we are currently taking are to prepare our systems should we move to the next level," Dr Manoj Murhekar, Director, National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai, an ICMR institute, said today.

The community transmission stage is currently being witnessed in Italy, Iran and the US with cases and deaths rising exponentially. India has not yet seen a surge in cases, a trend experts attribute to early travel restrictions, closure of borders, visa tightening and social distancing advisory which will remain active till March 31. "The next two weeks are very crucial for containment efforts," ICMR chief Balram Bhargava said today.

Asked why India was not following WHO Director General's Tuesday advice of "intensified testing" to fight the virus, Dr Murhekar said the advice was not for nations at stage 2 of transmission where disease is localised. "We are testing people we need to test," he said. The government today also admitted in Parliament that 276 Indians stranded abroad are Covid-19 positive.

In a written reply to Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said the maximum Covid positive Indians are currently in Iran - 255, followed by 12 in the UAE, five in Italy and one each in Hong Kong, Kuwait, Rwanda and Sri Lanka. Health Minister Harsh Vardhan Tuesday held a high-level review meeting with senior officials of the ministry, administrative heads of Central Government Hospitals and AIIMS and reviewed hospital management such as OPD blocks, availability of testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPEs), medicines, and adequate isolation wards. -- TNS


Vaishno Devi yatra closed The J&K Admin announced on Wednesday closure of the Vaishno Devi yatra and banning of all interstate buses

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Virus trail CSIR develops sanitiser sans harmful chemicals Chandigarh: Amid demand for hand sanitisers shooting up, a laboratory of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed a hand sanitiser without any harmful chemicals.

The product, developed by the Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology located at Palampur in Himachal Pradesh does not contain chemical additives like parabens, triclosan, synthetic fragrance and phthalates. Natural flavours, active tea constituents and alcohol content in this sanitiser have been used as per guidelines of the WHO. TNS

Covid: Education institutes begin lockdown New Delhi: Two days after the Centre issued social distancing advisory, central educational institutions began partial lockdowns. The Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, was among the first to act asking students to vacate hostels by March 18 midnight.

In an order, the administration said mess and library facilities would be suspended from March 19. International students, however, continue to live in hostels till further orders with restricted mobility. Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University have asked students to vacate hostels and have suspended classes till March 31.

TNS Tihar Jail suspends 'mulaqat' with family New Delhi: The Tihar jail authorities on Wednesday suspended till March 31 the prisoners' meetings with their relatives as a precautionary measure to prevent the coronavirus outbreak in the crowded prison.

The prison officials said suspension of jail inmates' "mulaqat" with their families will be effective from Thursday.

They said the prisoners, who are generally allowed two meetings with their visiting family members or relatives in a week, would remain suspended from Thursday up to March 31.

PTI

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