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Coronavirus: 3 arrested for administering fake novel coronavirus vaccines

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Three women were arrested for allegedly administrating fake coronavirus vaccines to villagers in Maharashtra's Jalna district, police said on Thursday. The police on Wednesday arrested Beed residents Radha Ramnath Saamse, Seema Krishna Andhale and Sangeeta Rajendra Avhad, who allegedly posed as doctors and healthcare workers, an official said.

The trio met villagers of Pipalgoan in Ambad tehsil, informed them about a vaccine that could protect them from coronavirus and administered it to gullible locals, he said. Some villagers informed Dr Mahadev Munde, a medical officer at a rural health centre, about this, after which a complaint was lodged, the official said.

Fake vaccines and bottles, which were seized from the accused, have been sent to the state health department, he said, adding that a case of cheating has been registered against the trio.

Travellers from Italy, South Korea entering India must carry COVID-19 'negative' certificate

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Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued an additional travel advisory which says that aside from the visa restrictions already in place, passengers traveling from Italy or the Republic of Korea will require a 'tested negative for COVID -19' certificate before they are allowed to enter the country.

The certificates would have to be issued from designated laboratories authorised by the health authorities of these countries.  This measure by the Health Ministry for the prevention of coronavirus will come into effect from midnight March 10. The Ministry has said that this is only a temporary measure till the coronavirus outbreak subsides.

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had earlier confirmed that a total of 29 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in India. This number includes the three initial cases in Kerala who were treated and later discharged from the hospitals.

Two new cases were discovered on Monday, one in Delhi with a travel history to Italy and another in Telangana. The patient from Telangana had come in contact with a Singapore national who had been infected with the coronavirus. 17 Italian tourists who were in India to tour Rajasthan were also tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday.

The government had said on Tuesday that all incoming international passengers must declare their travel history to health and immigration officials at India's airports.

Italy is one of the worst affected countries apart from China, with 107 confirmed dead because of the coronavirus outbreak. Till now, over 3,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Italy.

South Korea, a neighbor of China, is another country that has been gravely affected by coronavirus. South Korea reported 760 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, bringing it to a total of 6,088 in the country - the highest outside of China. The coronavirus death toll in South Korea is currently at 40, with eight new deaths confirmed on Thursday.

Shut offices, work from home, travel ban: India Inc takes coronavirus safety measures

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As coronavirus cases rise in India, corporates across the country have started taking precautionary measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. Companies such as Cognizant, Paytm and Wipro have stepped up their employee safety efforts as the epidemic spreads.

While many have shut operations and asked employees to work from home, others have put restrictions on non-essential domestic and international travel especially to China, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore and South Korea.

A lot of them are also disinfecting and sanitising office spaces, putting hand sanitisers at entry and exit points, discouraging staff from conducting physical meetings, restricting the entry of outsiders in office premises and distributing N95 masks amongst employees.

Business stalwarts such as Anand Mahindra, Harsh Mariwala have also weighed in on the issue as well. Where Mahindra pointed out the silver lining in the coronavirus outbreak, saying the chaos will press a 'permanent reset button' leading to a greener footprint, Mariwala advised caution urging people to stop spreading misinformation about COVID-19.

Indian IT companies are taking significant measures as their employees often travel abroad for work thus getting exposed to the deadly virus.

Cognizant

IT services provider Cognizant India has temporarily closed its Hyderabad office and asked its employees to work from home. The company's office is situated in Building 20 of Raheja Mindspace which is a major IT park in Hyderabad.

The company in an email sent to its associates on Wednesday said that it is shutting its office as an employee of another company in the same building was tested positive for coronavirus (COVI-19). The IT Services provider further stated (in the email) that is closing the office for disinfection and sanitisation. The IT services provider also clarified in the email that "no Cognizant associate is known to have contracted the virus." The company added that it has asked all its employees "working out of Building 20 of Raheja Mindspace to work from home until further notice".

Paytm

The digital payment platform on Wednesday decided to close its offices in Gurugram and Noida for at least two days after one of its employees who had recently visited Italy tested positive for coronavirus. The company in an official statement stated that it has also advised the team members of the affected employees to get their health tests done without delay. Paytm has closed its offices to carry out disinfection and sanitisation of the premises.

"One of our colleagues based out of Gurgaon office who recently returned from Italy post a vacation has sadly been tested positive for Coronavirus," a company spokesperson said. "He is receiving appropriate treatment and we are extending complete support to his family."

"As a precautionary measure, we have suggested his team members get health tests done immediately. We have also advised all our colleagues to work from home for a couple of days while we get our offices sanitized. However, there will not be any impact on our daily operations and Paytm services will continue as usual," the spokesperson said.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)

A spokesperson of the IT company said on Tuesday that it has advised its employees based in Itlay to work from home. "We are ensuring that our staff have all the information and support they require. In addition, we are also working closely with our clients to co-ordinate any measures in this situation," the spokesperson said as quoted by PTI.

HCL Technologies

The tech giant has evoked an epidemic contingency plan in the affected geographies and is fully supporting its employees in the impacted regions. "Remote Working/Work From Home' strategy has been activated to aid social distancing in the impacted regions. Travel advisory across the organisation has been issued with full precautionary measures," the company said.

The company has also set up a special global task force to track the situation actively and take appropriate steps in consultation with external agencies such as International SOS. "HCL is pro-actively invoking all required measures to ensure business continuity and will also be providing full support to clients and employees," the company told the news agency.

Nearbuy

The company which claims to be India's first hyper-local online platform has decided to shut its Gurugram office for at least 14 days as a preventive step. It has asked its employees to work from home during the period and also keep their health in check.

Wipro

The global software major announced on Wednesday that it will not allow any employee to travel to China, Hong Kong and Macau due to coronavirus risk. "Wipro has suspended travel to and transit through mainland China, including Hong Kong and Macau, until further notice. Employees have also been advised to avoid non-critical travel to Singapore, South Korea, Japan and Italy," Wipro said.

The company has also advised Chinese employees and others who had travelled to the said destinations to be vigilant and to stay at home for 14 days before joining back office. Even though the company has enabled a lot of techies to work from home, it does not have any employees in the coronavirus epicentre, Wuhan. The company has asked its employees to put themselves in isolation in case they or their family members exhibit symptoms.

The company has also issued an advisory containing information about hygiene and preventive measures and has also asked its employees worldwide to get themselves checked if they display any symptoms.

Twitter

The microblogging site has asked its global workforce to work from home, if possible. "We are strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they're able. Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us and the world around us," Twitter said in a blog.

Meanwhile, Google had made its policies stricter after an employee in Zurich tested positive for coronavirus. It has restricted travel and cancelled a big Google Cloud event. Other tech companies like Facebook, Microsoft are issuing advisories and taking preventive steps for its employees to restrict the spread of the virus. Online retail giant Amazon also said on Tuesday that an employee in the United States has been tested positive for coronavirus. The company stated that all the employee's co-workers who were in contact with the patient have been informed. The patient worked at the company's South Lake Union office complex in Seattle.

Coronavirus updates: Two new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Delhi, Telangana

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Coronavirus update: Two more cases of COVID-19 or novel coronavirus have been detected in New Delhi and Telangana, the government confirmed on Monday. The patients had travelled to Italy and Dubai before they were tested positive. So far, no official vaccination has been developed for the deadly coronavirus. These are the first confirmed positive coronavirus cases in both Delhi and Telangana. Notably, three coronavirus cases were also been detected in Kerala and West Bengal each. All three coronavirus cases in Kerala were discharged from hospital.

"The person from Delhi has a travel history from Italy, while the one from Telangana has a travel history from Dubai," the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has said both the patients are stable and are being closely monitored. More details of their travels are being ascertained.

On February 27, a special Air India flight carrying 119 Indians, who were stranded onboard a coronavirus-hit cruise ship, Diamond Princess, off Yokohama port in Japan had landed in New Delhi. Apart from this, the government has also rescued 76 Indians from China's Wuhan region, which is the epicentre of the new coronavirus outbreak.

The government has said it's closely following the developments in China in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also written to President Xi Jinping, expressing India's commitment to assist China.

The number of cases across the world are also rising. The deadly virus that first emerged in China in December last year has spread to more than 70 countries and has infected more than 88,000 people, including over 80,000 in China. China's National Health Commission (NHC) said on Sunday it received reports of 202 new confirmed cases of coronavirus on Sunday, taking the total number of cases in the mainland to 80,026. On Sunday alone, China reported 42 new fatalities from the novel coronavirus outbreak, taking the death toll in the country to over 3,000.

Apart from China, the number of people infected in Italy now stands at 1,576. Deaths in Iran from coronavirus have hit 43, the highest number outside China, and the total number of infected people has risen to 593. Total 36 people have also died due to the virus in the country. At least two persons have already died in the US too.

Swine flu death toll highest in Uttar Pradesh

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There have been 884 cases of H1N1 virus so far this year and 14 deaths according to the data of the New Delhi-based National Centre for Disease Control. Of that, 70 per cent of the cases are from four states. Tamil Nadu accounts for 172 cases, followed by Delhi (152), Karnataka (151) and Telangana (148). However, Uttar Pradesh with 51 cases accounts for seven of the 14 deaths so far as per the data from the National Centre for Disease Control. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana account for two deaths each.

So, is there gross under-reporting of cases given that UP has high population density and is much larger than the southern states that have reported more cases? Or, is it because systems are inadequate leading to more deaths? The H1N1 problem is not new. We have experience over the years now and it seems to recur every year as indicated by the data. The numbers reported by UP this year are much lower than last year, when it reported 2096 cases and 37 deaths.

Health officials say there is no reason to be alarmed, and the government is taking measures to ensure health awareness and gear up government hospital machinery. After it was reported that five Supreme Court judges were down with H1N1, the Health Ministry organised a health awareness meeting on H1N1 for advocates of the Supreme Court. Similarly, officials in the health ministry point out awareness campaigns are being held and states sensitised so that any gaps in systems required are all bridged.

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