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Home Ministry allows special trains to ferry stranded migrant workers, pilgrims, students

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The Ministry of Home Affairs issued a notification on Friday allowing special trains to ferry migrant workers, tourists, students, and other persons stranded at different places. "Movement of migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places is also allowed by special trains to be operated by the Ministry of Railways (MoR). MoR will designate nodal officers for coordinating with states/UTs for their movement. MoR will issue detailed guidelines for social distancing and other safety measures to be observed at train stations, train platforms and within the trains," the notification read.

The special trains will run from point to point based on the request of the concerned state governments as per standard protocols.

Passengers will be screened by the departure states before onboarding. Once the passengers are found asymptomatic, only then will they be allowed to board the trains. Additionally, the departure state's government will bring the passengers in batches to the stations on buses that will be fully sanitised. Social distancing and other precautions must also be strictly followed during the process, stated MoR.

Once the passengers arrive at the destination, the destination state's government will make all arrangements to screen and quarantine (if necessary) the passengers, stated the railways ministry.

Special trains that have been planned for today are from Lingampalli to Hatia, Aluva to Bhubaneswar, Nasik to Lucknow, Nasik to Bhopal, Jaipur to Patna and Kota to Hatia.

This notification comes after Indian Railways ferried 1,200 migrant workers stranded in Telangana to Jharkhand. Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren also said that two special trains will leave Rajasthan's Kota for the state with students on board, today. "I thank the Central Govt and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot on behalf of the people of Jharkhand for their help," said Soren.

Coronavirus crisis: Govt declares Rs 50 lakh compensation for port workers in case of loss of life

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The Ministry of Shipping has announced Rs 50 lakh compensation to all port employees, including contract labourers employed directly by ports and other contractual labourers, in case of loss of life due to COVID-19 while discharging the port-related duty.

As per the government release, a port chairman will be the competent authority to settle claims or disburse compensation and to verify the cause of death from COVID-19. The compensation is applicable only for cases related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be in force up to September 30, subject to review thereafter.

The coronavirus crisis has posed various challenges for frontline workers in India. Recently, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare entrusted New India Assurance with the issuing of health cover worth Rs 50 lakh to over 22 health workers. New India issued the policy on March 31 in the form of a tailor-made personal accident cover, which will be valid for the next 90 days.

The policy covers healthcare providers and community health workers who have come in close contact with COVID-19 patients during treatment. Private healthcare staff and workers are also detailed out in the order. As per the ministry, the aim of issuing this policy is to boost the morale of healthcare workers.

India presently has the total confirmed novel coronavirus cases at 29,435, including 21,632 active cases, 6,868 recoveries, 1 migrated and 934 deaths, according to the latest update by the Union Health Ministry. Globally, the tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases has crossed 30 lakh with over 2 lakh deaths.

Coronavirus Updates: Confirmed COVID-19 cases reach 29,974, death toll rises to 937

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Coronavirus pandemic and lockdown extension latest news: Karnataka goverment allowed reopening of shops in its green zones starting Tuesday midnight. However, malls will remain shut. The government added that the shops can open with 50% workforce in green zones. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the nation for the fourth time this week-end. According to sources, the Prime Minister may announce a phased exit from the lockdown in the wake of increasing cases across the states in the country. India is planning to slowly and gradually ease lockdown restrictions from May 3 when it ends. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his video-conference meet with CMs discussed an exit strategy with states' chief ministers to help minimise risks after the lockdown is lifted. However, there will likely be a staggered lifting of COVID-19 lockdown meaning not everything may open up at once as PM Modi asked state CMs to relax rules after considering on-ground situation. Meanwhile, the government on Monday cancelled the order for Chinese COVID-19 rapid testing kits due to faulty results and also informed that the this will not have any financial bearing on it. India presently has the total confirmed novel coronavirus cases at 29,974, including 22,010 active cases, 7,026 recoveries, 1 migrated and 937 deaths, according to latest update by the Union Health Ministry. Globally, the tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases has cross 30 lakh with over 2 lakh deaths.

According to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, as of 5 PM on April 28, the total number of COVID-19 cases in India has reached 29,974. This includes 22,010 active cases, 937 deaths, 7,026 cured and dischaged patients and 1 migrated patient. The country saw 1,594 new coronavirus cases and 51 deaths in the past 24 hours.

India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have signed a $1.5 billion loan that will support the government's in fight against novel coronavirus disease. The funds will be used for immediate priorities such as disease containment and prevention, as well as social protection for the poor and economically vulnerable sections of the society, especially women and disadvantaged groups, the government said in a statement.

Centre Cancels Chinese COVID-19 Test Kit Orders, Says Won't Lose A Rupee

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Not a single rupee will be lost to Chinese firms who provided faulty COVID-19 test kits to India as the orders have been cancelled and the payments not made, the government said on Monday amid a controversy over the issue.

Coronavirus test kits made by two Chinese companies Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics have been found "under-performing" by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the government said.

It has asked states and hospitals to stop using the kits made by the two companies and since "due process followed (not going for procurement with 100% advance amount), GoI (Government of India) does not stand to lose a single rupee", an official statement said.

Earlier this month, around 5 lakh rapid anti-body test kits and RNA Extraction Kits were procured by the government and distributed around the country after the ICMR recommended that every resident in coronavirus hotspots - or areas with a large number of cases - will be tested for the virus.

It was decided to use fast-track kits as the regular RT-PCR tests are slow and have to be conducted in laboratories. Many states in the country do not have adequate testing facilities.

Several states, including Rajasthan and West Bengal complained about the new test kits, saying they had only 5.4 per cent accuracy. Opposition parties questioned the government's purchase as well.

ICMR sources said they had agreed to the use of rapid testing kits, widely considered far more unreliable than regular tests even though they are cheaper and faster, after repeated requests from states.

On Monday, a controversy flared over the Chinese rapid tests after a legal dispute between the distributor and the importer in the Delhi High Court suggested that India had paid double.

The test kits were bought by the importer, Matrix, for Rs 245 apiece from China. Yet, the distributors, Real Metabolics and Aark Pharmaceuticals, sold the same kits to the government for Rs 600 each, which means a 140 per cent mark-up.

In its clarification on Monday, the government said not only had it not paid in advance for any of the anti-body test kits, it had conducted a tender process that received bids between Rs 1,204 and Rs 600 and finally selected the lowest quote.

Coronavirus update: India reports 1,684 new cases in last 24 hours, recovery rate improves to 20.57%

latest news update

India reported sharp rise in coronavirus positive cases with 1,684 new patients in the last 24 hours, according to the latest Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data. The total number of cases jumped to 23,077, while death toll spiked to 718, the data showed. The confirmed coronavirus cases include 17,610 active cases, 4,748 cured/discharged, 1 migrated, and 718 deaths.

Maharashtra remained the worst-hit state with 6,430 registered COVID-19 cases and 283 deaths, followed by Gujarat, with 2,624 cases and 112 deaths. Delhi remained on third spot with 2,376 positive patients and 50 deaths.

While addressing a press conference on April 24 amid coronavirus pandemic, the Joint Secretary of Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal said, "In last 24 hours, 1684 COVID-19 positive cases have been reported which takes our total confirmed case to 23,077."

As of now, 4,748 people have been cured with a recovery rate of 20.57 per cent. "Our recovery rate is 20.57 per cent," Agarwal said.

"In the last 28 days, 15 districts have had no new case. Till date, there are 80 districts in the country that have reported no new cases in last 14 days," he added.

India is under complete lockdown, which has been extended till May 3. During the 31 days of lockdown, the government has taken several measures to cut transmission, minimise spread and ramp up testing.

As on March 23, nearly 15,000 tests were done across the country and by April 22 more than 5 lakh tests were conducted, which is about "33 times in 30 days", as per the government data.

In a bid to mitigate the economic impact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today to decide the second stimulus package. The meeting follows a series of measures to bring back the economy on the track. The upcoming relief could be roughly similar in size to the Rs 1.7 lakh crore-package announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in late March.

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