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Coronavirus: President, PM, Ministers, MPs to take 30% salary cut for a year

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The Modi government on Monday announced that President, Vice President, Prime Minister and all Members of Parliament will take a salary cut of 30% in wake of rising coronavirus cases in the country. All these funds will be transferred to the Consolidated Fund of India. The salary cut will be applicable for one year. However, pensions and allowances of MPs will remain unaffected. 

Addressing the media through video conferencing, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said, "Cabinet okays reduction in allowances, pension of MPs by 30 per cent for 1 year to fight COVID-19."

"This is a landmark decision that sends the right signals," Javadekar told reporters.

"President, Vice President, Governors voluntarily decided to take pay cut. Money will go to Consolidated Fund of India," he added.

The decision of salary cut was taken in a meeting of Union Cabinet presided by PM Narendra Modi, the minister said. The decision came hours after PM Modi asked BJP workers to prepare for a long fight against coronavirus. The country and its people can't afford to get tired or rest in this long war, Modi added.

Coronavirus India: After Delhi Mosque Event, 7 COVID-19 Deaths, Nationwide Hunt

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Twenty-four people in Delhi have tested positive for coronavirus and more cases may be confirmed after a religious gathering at a mosque in the Nizamuddin area, which has been linked to seven COVID-19 deaths. Close to 2,000 people had been staying at "Markaz Nizamuddin", the Delhi headquarters of the Tablighi Jamaat group, for weeks. More than 300 were moved to hospitals yesterday with symptoms of the highly contagious virus. This morning, the Markaz Nizamuddin was sealed and 700 people moved out in buses are quarantined in different parts of the city. A police case has been filed against the mosque administration. Several states are trying to track down members who attended the meet and could be vectors for a larger spread. The health ministry has said "this is not the time to find faults, but to take action."

Here are the top 10 updates on this big story on coronavirus:

1. 441 people taken out of the mosque have been admitted to hospitals with coronavirus symptoms, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said today.

2. Contact tracing from the gathering, which has been identified as a virus hotspot, has been given high priority by the home ministry, according to sources. Home Minister Amit Shah is being briefed daily about the developing situation.

3. "With respect to the Nizamuddin area, we all need to understand and appreciate that this is not the time to do fault finding. What is important for us is to take action as per our containment process in whatever areas we find a case," said Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Aggarwal during a press briefing this evening.

4. Ignoring all social distancing rules to avoid the deadly coronavirus, hundreds had been staying in the 100-year-old mosque complex, which has a six-floor dormitory, since the two-day gathering of the Tablighi Jamaat from March 8 to 10. Some 280 were foreigners.

5. A hunt is on for members who returned to Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir and Andamans. Six people have died in Telangana and one man died in Srinagar. Ten more, who returned to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, have tested positive. More than 100 people from Kashmir attended the gathering and a massive exercise is on to track them down.

6. The Srinagar preacher who died last week had visited the Deoband seminary in Uttar Pradesh and on his return to Kashmir, held multiple gatherings.

7. The Tablighi Jamaat is an Islamic missionary movement set up in 1926, with members across the world. The gathering, which featured sermons, was attended by Tablighi members from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Nepal, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and Saudi Arabia. Members had also come from Afghanistan, Algeria, Djibouti, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, England, Fiji, France and Kuwait.

8. 300 foreigners who were on tourist visa and so, attended the event illegally, face blacklisting.

9. Tablighi members reportedly told the police about the congregation on March 24. At the time, there were around 1,200 people inside the mosque complex. A day later, they were taken to the airport by the police. But on March 26, two days into the national lockdown ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, people started gathering again at the mosque. There were close 2,000 by the time the police found out.

10. In a statement, Markaz Nizamuddin defended itself saying the event was cancelled when PM Modi announced the "Janata Curfew" for March 22. Members could not leave, it said, because trains were suddenly stopped. After that, it said, lockdowns ordered first by the Delhi government and then by the PM left the visitors stranded in the Markaz. However, officials point out that long before the lockdowns, the Delhi government had called for suspending all gatherings, religious, cultural or social.

No Community Spread Of Coronavirus In India, Positive Results Of Lockdown

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India is still in the local transmission stage of the coronavirus pandemic, the government said today, responding to questions about a health ministry document that said the country was currently in "local transmission and limited community transmission phase." 

"Nowhere are we calling it community transmission. We are still in the local transmission stage. If we use the word 'community' then there is speculation," said Luv Agarwal of the Indian Council of Medical Research.  

"Kindly allow us to use the word community but not in the context you have interpreted. Our country is in the local transmission stage," the official stressed. 

India has close to 1,100 coronavirus cases, including 29 deaths. 

Last evening, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had released a document detailing SOPs for transporting a suspected case of coronavirus or COVID-19.  

"This SOP is applicable to the current phase of COVID-19 pandemic in India (local transmission and limited community transmission)," the document said, the words in the bracket sending speculation soaring. 

Of the four stages, Stage 1 is when cases are imported from affected countries. Only those who travelled abroad test positive. 

The government says India is still on Stage 2, when there is local transmission from infected persons. For example, relatives or acquaintances of those who travelled abroad. In local transmission, less people are affected. The source of the virus is known and it is easier to trace the chain, as opposed to community transmission.  

Stage 3 or community transmission is when a patient not exposed to any infected person or one who has not travelled to any of the affected countries tests positive. At this stage, people detected positive are unable to identify where they got the virus from. Experts fear that if India comes to this stage, the rise will be staggering and hard to control.  

The country has been on total lockdown since last Tuesday in an attempt to arrest the rapid spread of the disease, which has cause over 30,000 deaths worldwide and forced several countries to shut down. 

In the last six days, the spread of coronavirus doubled, but the rise in the number of cases has reduced because of the lockdown said the ICMR. On March 22, 75 districts in 23 states and Union Territories were affected by the virus. On March 28, it had spread to 160 districts across 27 States and Union Territories. 

Mumbai has the highest number of cases, 81, followed by Kasargod in Kerala with 78 cases.  

"In the lockdown stage we saw that it took us 12 days between 100 cases and 1,000 cases. In other countries, 3,000-5,000 cases have been found. We have received some positive results due to social distancing," said Luv Agarwal.

Ratan Tata pledges Rs 500 crore to fight coronavirus

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As the number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases rises in India, Ratan Tata, Chairman Tata Trusts and Chairman Emeritus Tata Sons, has committed Rs 500 crore towards manufacturing of personal protective equipment, respiratory systems, testing kits, setting up modular treatment facilities and training of health workers, a statement issued by Tata Trust said.

"The COVID 19 crisis is one of the toughest challenges we will face as a race... At this moment, the need of the hour is greater than any other time," the businessman tweeted, while attaching a statement from Tata Trusts.

He said that in this exceptionally difficult period, "urgent emergency resources need to be deployed to cope with the needs of fighting the COVID 19 crisis".

"Today, The Tata Trusts continue their pledge to protect and empower all affected communities and is committing Rs 500 crore," he said.

Tata Trusts' contributions:

  • Personal Protective Equipment for the medical personnel
  • Respiratory systems for treating coronavirus patients
  • Testing kits for per capita testing
  • Setting up modular treatment facilities
  • Training of health workers and general public

Meanwhile, many other business tycoons have also made their contribution to the country's fight against the pandemic, here's the list:

Mukesh Ambani: India's richest man, Mukesh Ambani pledged to donate Rs 5 crore to Maharashtra Chief Minister's Relief Fund. Furthermore, his Reliance Industries had also announced to enhance its production capacity, manufacture around 100,000 masks per day and a large number of protective equipment for health workers engaged in fighting coronavirus.

Anand Mahindra: Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra offered to convert Mahindra Holiday resorts as temporary care facilities. He also said that the group would manufacture ventilators and pledged to give 100 per cent of his salary to the coronavirus fund for the next few months.

Anil Agarwal: Executive Chairman of Vedanta Resources, Anil Agarwal pledged Rs 100 crore to the coronavirus fund.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma: Founder of Paytm Vijay Shekhar Sharma posted on social media that he is contributing his two months salary so that the company does not face any issues in remunerating employees.

Anita Dongre: Founder of House of Dongre and 'AND' clothing line, Anita Dongre pledged that she will help self-employed artisans and small vendors function better.

Manu Kumar Jain: Managing Director of Xiaomi India Manu Kumar Jain pledged to donate N95 masks and protective suits.

British PM Boris Johnson Tests Positive For Coronavirus

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Friday that he is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.

"Over the last 24 hours I have developed mild symptoms and tested positive for coronavirus," he said on Twitter, posting a video message.

"I am now self-isolating, but I will continue to lead the government's response via video-conference as we fight this virus," he wrote.

"Be in no doubt that I can continue thanks to the wizardry of modern technology to communicate with all my top team to lead the national fightback against coronavirus," he added in the video message.

A Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement that Johnson, whose partner Carrie Symonds is pregnant, experienced mild symptoms on Thursday and was tested for COVID-19 on the personal advice of England's chief medical officer.

The test was carried out in No 10 by NHS staff, the spokesperson added.

In his video message, Johnson thanked workers in Britain's state-run National Health Service (NHS) for their efforts in battling the spread of the virus.

A total of 11,658 coronavirus cases have so far been confirmed in Britain, and 578 deaths.

Earlier this week Prince Charles, the eldest son and heir to Queen Elizabeth II, also tested positive for the virus.

The government confirmed this week that if Johnson was incapacitated, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab would temporarily assume the role of prime minister.

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