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FPJ Exclusive: Amid coronavirus outbreak, here's how fliers have attempted to bypass quarantine


Mumbai: Maharashtra’s Public Health Minister on Thursday unearthed a modus operandi of some travellers emanating from coronavirus affected countries to avoid 100% quarantine on arrival at Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur airports.

They were able to achieve this by plotting their itinerary in such a way that they returned via a non-affected country and thereby circumvented the stringent rules.

Health Minister Rajesh Tope, who visited the Mumbai International Airport to supervise the screening facility there, told FPJ, ''A few people, who visited a country considered to be high-risk, escaped quarantine for coronavirus as they returned via another country.

It is mandatory for travellers coming from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Iran and Italy to be quarantined. Those escaping the quarantine is a matter of serious concern, as it may lead to local transmission.''

Tope said such cases had surfaced in Pune where the district administration has now decided to resort to 100% quarantine of all passengers arriving from overseas.

 
 

Tope said he took up the issue with the Immigration Department at the Mumbai and Nagpur airports as well.

''It has been decided that the Immigration Department staff will check the passports of travellers arriving from the non-affected countries for their travel history in the previous fortnight.

This will enable us to quarantine all those arriving at the airport. It will be difficult for travellers to escape quarantine, now,'' he noted.

Tope said the devious ploy was detected after a group of 40 tourists returned from Dubai, which was earlier not in the ‘negative’ list of countries having coronavirus outbreak.

''The travellers fell ill after a few days and later they were declared positive. In some cases it was noticed that those, who had escaped quarantine at the airport, were detected with coronavirus symptoms.

Therefore, the travel history of 15 days must be ascertained by checking the passports of travellers returning to India,'' he averred.

Tope further said the department of public health and civic bodies had accordingly demanded suspension of all international flights for 10 days. As far as lockdown in Mumbai is concerned, Tope gave a stern warning to Mumbaikars.

Tope said that if the citizens don't comply with advisories issued by the state government to curb the novel coronavirus outbreak, a decision to lock down the city would be inevitable.

Meanwhile, Minister of Food and Civil Supplies Chhagan Bhujbal has said the state government will provide two months of rice and wheat for May and June in advance through 52,000 fair price shops across Maharashtra.

There are 1.25 crore ration card holders but the actual beneficiaries will be 6.50 crore. ''This is to avoid crowding at the fair price shops and inconvenience due to coronavirus spread,'' Bhujbal said.

 
 
 



Latest coronavirus update: No community spread of COVID-19 yet, assures ICMR, 826 random samples test negative


The Indian Council of Medical research has said that all 826 random samples that they took for testing for coronavirus’s COVID-19 strain have been tested negative, adding that there hasn’t been a community spread of the virus as yet.

The information was shared by senior journalist Shreya Dhoundial on her Twitter handle.

However, ICMR has said they will conduct another random test next week to see if the virus has spread into the community.


Shreya Dhoundial

@shreyadhoundial
Big Breaking : No community spread of #coronavirus in India yet. 
All 826 random samples tested by ICMR found negative.

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9:25 PM - Mar 18, 2020
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However, there isn’t information available of the demographics selected for the sample. An Indian Express report on Thursday also highlighted how many areas of Mumbai – particularly the slums where the concept of social distancing does not exist, do not even have proper access to drinking water, leave alone washing of hands. Whether or not these individuals will test positive, given that they may or may not have been in close proximity to those who have contracted the COVID-19 virus is still to be checked.

Currently, 169 patients have tested positive in India for the novel COVID-19 virus that has plagued the word. Three people have also succumbed to it.




Dettol and Lysol labels say products can 'kill coronavirus'. But can they really? Here's an explainer


The coronavirus pandemic has caused fear, sometimes to the point of paranoia amongst millions of people. Every day, with the number of fatalities going up, it’s only natural. Thanks to this fear, it has become commonplace for a section of society to share news that can be fake. It’s not that the sender is doing something wrong, but s/he is too scared to cross-check to tell the difference.

One such rumour doing the rounds was that Dettol, one of the world’s most popular antiseptic and disinfectant products, can cure coronavirus. Social media lost the plot by sharing a picture of the Dettol label that claims that it can cure coronavirus. A similar tweet about Lysol, a disinfectant product is also doing the rounds

However, a spokesperson from RB, the parent company of Dettol and Lysol issued a clarification. “Our products are effective against other coronaviruses (MERS-CoV and SARSCoV). We haven't had access to the new virus (2019-nCoV) for testing yet, so we are unable to confirm our level of effectiveness against. We are working to ensure we have the latest information on it,” he tweeted.


Jay hooper
@Jhooper103
 · Mar 6, 2020
How the hell do lysol kill the human Coronavirus in 30seconds?? Why didn’t they start spraying the hell outta China when it started. It wouldn’t of killed all these  people @discoverRB

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RB

@discoverRB
Our products are effective against the MERS-CoV and SARSCoV coronaviruses. We don't have access to this emerging outbreak (COVID-19) for testing yet, hence we are not in a position to confirm levels of effectiveness against the new strain. Hope this is clear!

2:15 PM - Mar 10, 2020
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eleventh
@UJL
 · Mar 6, 2020
Is it effective for #COVIDー19?@WHO @Dettol @discoverRB

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RB

@discoverRB
Our products are effective against the MERS-CoV and SARSCoV coronaviruses. We don't have access to this emerging outbreak for testing yet, hence we are not in a position to confirm levels of effectiveness against the new strain. Hope this helps!

2
2:33 PM - Mar 6, 2020
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A detailed Facebook post was also shared about the same. "RB has become aware of speculation about Dettol products and the novel 2019-nCoV coronavirus. As this is an emerging outbreak RB, like all manufacturers, doesn't yet have access to the new virus (2019-nCoV) for testing and, as a result, are not yet in a position to confirm levels of effectiveness against the new strain.

"Our products have been tested against other coronaviruses (such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV) and have been found to kill those. Although 2019-nCoV is a new strain, this virus is very similar to other coronaviruses. We continue to work with our partners to ensure that we have the latest understanding of the virus, route of transmission and will test our product range once health authorities make the strain available.As a global leader in health and hygiene, we continue to play our part in combating and containing the outbreak of the virus. To this end, we have donated £5.5 million in cash and products to assist in the mobilisation of medical staff to treat those affected and provide soap and hand sanitisers to hospitals in Wuhan to help contain the further spread of the virus.

"It is vital the accurate, evidenced-based information is conveyed to the public so they are properly informed about the importance of good hygiene at all times, but particularly during outbreaks," the post read

Notably, there are seven other types of coronavirus strains that infect humans and animals. The first identified human coronavirus was in fact discovered in 1960. This also means that if someone has coronavirus, it doesn’t necessarily mean that s/he has the COVID-19 strain that has affected the world.




I am better off in India than back home: Australian scribe tells family and friends amid coronavirus outbreak


As the coronavirus pandemic continues to consume the world, one Australian journalist who is posted in India has said that he feels safer here than back home.

James Oaten, the South Asia Correspondent for Australia Broadcasting Corporation, wrote a piece three days ago, saying that his family and friends were concerned about his well-being amid the coronavirus outbreak.

When Oaten had written the piece, India had 114 positive cases. The number has increased to 169, and chances are that it’s going to continue to rise.

However, Oaten has added that while the numbers are rising in India, there isn’t panic like there was in Australia, where videos of people swarming into supermarkets to buy toilet paper went viral. “There are plenty of provisions available in shops,” he added.

Australia has reported 568 cases, with six death in all.

Their leading airline Quantas on Instagram posted that they would be suspending all flights until further notice.

 
 

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that the 166 cases reported from India comprised 141 Indian nationals and 25 foreign nationals. There have been 3 deaths in the country due to Coronavirus so far.




Does Rajya Sabha have an anti-sexual harassment committee: TMC's Mahua Moitra on former CJI Ranjan Gogoi's appointment


In an attack on former Chief Justice of India and recently nominated Rajya Sabha MP Ranjan Gogoi, Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra on Wednesday asked if the Rajya Sabha had a committee against sexual harassment of women sitting in the upper house.

“We think it may be required for nation building,” she tweeted.


Mahua Moitra

@MahuaMoitra
Is there a Committee against Sexual Harassment of Women in Rajya Sabha, under the POSH Act, 2013?

We think it may be required for nation building....

'Legislature and Judiciary Must Work Together for Nation-Building': Ranjan Gogoi on RS Nomination https://thewire.in/law/ranjan-gogoi-accepts-rajya-sabha-nomination …


'Legislature and Judiciary Must Work Together for Nation-Building': Ranjan Gogoi on RS Nomination
Confirming his decision to accept the nomination, Gogoi told reporters in Guwahati that he would address the issue in detail after taking the oath.

thewire.in
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Moitra’s response comes after Gogoi in an interview said that legislature and judiciary must work together for nation building.

Gogoi, who headed benches that pronounced several key judgements including in the sensitive Ayodhya land dispute case, was on Monday nominated to Rajya Sabha by the government.

On Tuesday, Gogoi said that after taking oath he will speak in detail to the media.

In 2019, he got a clean chit in a sexual harassment case that a colleague had filed against him when he was Chief Justice of India. The woman was dismissed, but recently reinstated into the Supreme Court in January this year.

Responding to all the criticism that has been doing the rounds on social media, he told Pratidin Times that his presence in parliament will be an opportunity to project the views of the judiciary before the legislature and vice versa. “I have accepted the nomination to the Rajya Sabha because of strong conviction that the legislature and the judiciary must work together for nation-building,” he had said in the interview.




Coronavirus Update: Italy reports 475 new deaths due to COVID-19, highest one-day death toll of any nation


Rome: Italy on Wednesday reported 475 new deaths from the novel coronavirus, the highest one-day official toll of any nation since the first case was detected in China late last year.

Total deaths in Italy have reached 2,978, more than half of all the cases recorded outside China, while the number of infections stood at 35,713. The previous record high of 368 deaths was also recorded in Italy, on Sunday. The nation of 60 million has now recorded 34.2 percent of all the deaths officially attributed to COVID-19 across the world.

With the death rate still climbing despite the Mediterranean country entering a second week under effective lockdown, officials urged Italians to have faith and to stay strong. "They main thing is, do not give up," Italian National Institute of Health chief Silvio Brusaferro said in a nationally televised press conference. "It will take a few days before we see the benefits" of containment measures, said Brusaferro.

"We must maintain these measures to see their effect, and above all to protect the most vulnerable." Imposed nationally on March 12, the shutdown of most Italian businesses and a ban on public gatherings are due to expire on March 25. But school closures and other measures, such as a ban fan attendance at sporting events, are due to run on until April 3.

A top government minister hinted Wednesday that the school closure would be extended well into next month, if not longer. The rates within Italy itself remained stable, with two-thirds of the deaths -- 1,959 in all -- reported in the northern Lombardy region around Milan, the Italian financial and fashion capital. The neighbouring Emilia-Romagna region of Bologna has suffered a total of 458 fatalities, and Turin's Piedmont region has had 154 deaths. Rome's Lazio region has a toll of 32 deaths and 724 infections.




Coronavirus scare: Taj Mahal closed


Agra: The annual three day Urs of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the iconic Taj Mahal, will not be held, as scheduled from March 21, as the historic monuments including the Taj in the city have been shut down till March 31, in the wake of COVID-19.

Annual Shah Jahan Urs not to be held
This will be the first time in the history of the Taj, that the annual Urs will not be held.

During the three day Urs, entry remains free and a series of functions are organised. Work on the 365 metre long chadar, to be offered, had begun.
A member of the organising committee said, the convention would indeed be disrupted, but the safety of the country was more important.

The whole area around the Taj Mahal wears a deserted look. The Taj is visited by around 30,000 people daily. For the past one month there had been a steep decline.

Agra mayor Navin Jain had asked for closure of the monuments, in a letter to the union tourism minister, a fortnight ago.

Agra Development Authority earns 14 cr daily
The Agra Development Authority used to earn around Rs 14 crore daily from ticket sales.

On Tuesday, a pall of gloom descended on the tourism sector, as guides, photographers, taxi drivers, hoteliers were left with no work.

The once crowded parking areas were vehicle free. The eleven five star hotels and around 25 three star hotels, plus countless guest houses, dharamshalas and smaller hotels are waiting for customers. How long this wait will be, uncertainty continues.

Only during the 1971 war with Pakistan, the Taj Mahal was closed for more than a week. During the flood in 1978, it was again closed for a couple of days.

SOURCE: IANS




Digvijaya Singh taken into preventive arrest in Bengaluru


Bengaluru: Ahead of apex court hearing on the Madhya Pradesh political crisis, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh reached Bengaluru early morning on Wednesday and tried to go to Ramada Hotel where the rebel Congress MLAs are lodged.

However, Digvijaya Singh was stopped from going into the hotel following which he sat on dharna there. Now, Bengaluru police have taken him into preventive custody.
Digvijaya Singh said, “I am a Rajya Sabha candidate I am not allowed to meet the MLAs.”
Earlier, Digvijaya Singh was received by Karnataka Congress chief D.K. Shivakumar at the airport.

Shivakumar said, “The Congress party is united and we have our own political strategy.”

In the apex court when the matter comes up for hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal will appear for the Madhya Pradesh government and Abhishek Singhvi for the Speaker.


 The BJP has moved the top court for holding a floor test in Assembly as it thinks the Kamal Nath government has lost its majority.

SOURCE: AGENCY 




Over 250 stranded Indians in Iran reportedly infected with COVID


New Delhi: As per the list reportedly prepared by doctors who went to Iran from India, more than 250 Indians are infected by COVID-19.

Indians stuck in Iran’s Qom

 These Indians are stuck in Iran’s Qom since February due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. They were the part of the delegation of over 800 persons from Kargil, Ladakh.

It may be mentioned that India had sent a team of doctors to conduct coronavirus tests on the Indians in Iran.

A lawyer from Kargil, Haji Mustafa confirmed that his relative is among those who are infected with the virus. He alleged that official negligence has worsened the crisis.

Citing the reason for his allegation, he said that persons who were tested positive were not properly isolated thereby exposing other delegation members to the deadly virus.

Statement by External Affairs Ministry officials
Meanwhile, the External Affairs Ministry officials on Tuesday said they cannot confirm whether more than 250 Indians in Iran have tested positive for the virus but acknowledged that they were aware of such a list of people being circulated.

At the daily inter-ministerial press briefing on coronavirus on Tuesday evening, MEA Additional Secretary Dammu Ravi was asked several times about Indians in Iran testing positive.

“Of course in a situation like that, you will find some positive cases among the Indian pilgrims given the extensive spread of virus in Iran.

“Rest assured that every care is being taken by mission in cooperating and coordinating with the government of Iran for safety of Indians there. The ambassador is giving a lot of attention to them,” Ravi told reporters.

“Cannot confirm that over 250 Indians in Iran have tested positive for coronavirus and whether the list that is being circulated is authentic or not,” he said in response to a question about media reports claiming that more than 250 Indians in Iran have tested positive for the virus.

He, however, said that it was not possible that all the tests of the Indian pilgrims would have come out negative as they were located in Qom.




Coronavirus update: Can Centre's travel restrictions on nations stop Indians from returning home?


The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Monday evening, without mentioning whether Indians are included in this list, issued a circular on the new set of travel restrictions India has imposed following the coronavirus outbreak.

“Travel of passengers from member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and United Kingdom to India is prohibited with effect from 18th March 2020,” the circular read. On Tuesday, the Centre also further announced that it had prohibited the travel of passengers from Afghanistan, Philippines and Malaysia to India till March 31.

This has put a number of Indians abroad in a fix. Bengaluru resident Jasmine Karl, who is currently in Greece with her husband, told Free Press Journal that they had to cut their holiday by five days following the government advisory. We had tried rescheduling our tickets way in advance, even before the advisory was issued, but we never got help from both MakeMyTrip.com or Emirates,” she said.

Jasmine added that their return ticket cost them Rs 1.10 lakh, but Emirates cancelled their return ticket a few days earlier after coronavirus pandemic continued spreading. “We then had to spend Rs 1.10 lakh for a one-day ticket from Athens to Bengaluru. Emirates has not informed us about the refund policy yet,” she added.

The government had earlier suspended all visas, barring a few categories such as diplomatic and employment, in an attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

After a Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting, the government proposed a set of social-distancing measures to be in force till March 31, the officials told reporters.

"Travel of passengers from the member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the United Kingdom to India is prohibited with effect from March 18," Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Aggarwal said.

"No airline shall board a passenger from these countries to India with effect from 1200 GMT on March 18. The airlines shall enforce this at the port of initial departure," he added.

 
 
 




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