Kuwait has banned flights from seven countries including India amid the coronavirus scare forcing the cancellation of an Air India flight IX-394 from Karipur early on Saturday. Passengers who had arrived at the airport were sent back by the authorities.
Kuwait has also banned entry of anyone who has been in the seven countries – India, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Bangladesh, Philippines, Sri Lanka – for the past two weeks.
The development comes a day after the Civil Authority of Kuwait had lifted an order requiring medical certificates for Indians travelling to the country.
Meanwhile, India and Iran authorities are working together to facilitate the evacuation of their nationals stranded in either country. A ferry flight, carrying around 300 swabs of Indians suspected to have coronavirus infection, from Tehran will arrive in New Delhi on Saturday.
The Indian tourism ministry is tracking the whereabouts of 450 Iranain tourists who entered the country in February this year. An official said there is no protocol in any country to keep tabs of the whereabouts of incoming tourists after they land in the country.
Until Tuesday, travellers from only 12 countries were being screened for coronavirus, but after new cases erupted on Wednesday, the Union Ministry has now decided that every passenger coming on an international flight will be screened. The latest instructions would be in force till March 13.
The Italian tourist couple who tested positive for coronavirus in Jaipur are responding well to medical treatment. The oxygen supplied to the Italian male has been reduced and his condition is better, officials said.
The World Health Organization is also monitoring all the places where the tourist group travelled in Rajasthan.
Among the 31 positive cases in the country include a 45-year-old man from Delhi's Mayur Vihar and six of his relatives from Agra whom he had recently visited. Another is a Paytm employee who works in Gurgaon and lives in west Delhi. They are all being treated at the Safdarjung hospital.
A middle-aged man from Ghaziabad, who tested positive for the virus, is being treated at the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital in the national capital. A 24-year-old man from Hyderabad, who has also tested positive for coronavirus, has been isolated.
The total figure of 31 positive cases includes the first three reported from Kerala last month. All the three persons have been discharged following recovery.
Irishman suspected of coronavirus infection flees hospital, found
An Irishman, suspected of being infected with coronavirus, fled from a Cuttack hospital on Thursday but was traced to a hotel in Bhubaneswar where he and another person he had come in contact with have been kept in isolation, officials said.
Though the two were allowed to remain in isolation at the Bhubaneswar hotel, the administration later decided to put them in the special isolation ward meant for suspected coronavirus infected persons.
In accordance with the protocol to manage coronavirus cases, they will be kept in mandatory isolation for 14 days.
Holi, Women's Day celebrations stand cancelled
In New Delhi, a number of events related to Holi and Women's Day celebrations were cancelled in the city in an effort to curb the spread of CoVID-19, which has infected over 1,00,000 people and killed over 3,000 around the world.
The number of positive cases of the virus (SARS-CoV-2) in the country increased sharply from six to 31 in the span of a week. Nearly 29,000 people have been put under surveillance in different parts of the country.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan held a meeting with health ministers and chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories, central ministers and representatives from organisations concerned to review preparedness for COVID-19 management on Friday.
Vardhan underlined the importance of communicating with the masses and rasing awareness about steps to prevent spread of the virus. The minister also stressed on the need for keeping testing and quarantine facilities, isolation wards, and labs in active readiness.
The minister also sought strict action against those charging inflated prices for face masks. His comments come in the wake of shortage of masks and sanitizers in the market and chemists charging higher than the normal price as the coronavirus scare rises.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too is likely to hold a meeting on Saturday with health secretaries and the group of ministers, official sources said.
Schools, colleges and workplaces
The Delhi government has directed schools in the national capital to suspend morning assembly as a precautionary measure for coronavirus. The Directorate of Education (DoE) has also advised schools to withhold biometric attendance for staff till further orders.
The primary classes of all schools in the national capital have been closed till March 31, but students of secondary classes and staff are required to attend school.
The University Grants Commission (UGC) directed universities to avoid any large gathering in view of the coronavirus outbreak and advised that students and staff members with travel history to the virus-affected countries be quarantined at home for 14 days.
All central government employees have been exempted from marking attendance through Aadhaar-based biometric system as a preventive measure till March 31. Instead, they will be marking their attendance manually in the attendance register, according to a personnel ministry order.
Wagah border ceremony and Film Academy Awards
The popular daily retreat ceremony between India and Pakistan at the Attari-Wagah border in Punjab will be held sans public attendance from Saturday. The Border Security Force (BSF) said it will continue performing the ceremonial duty of lowering the flag and other drills.
The 21st edition of International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Awards, which was scheduled to be held from March 27 to 29 at Indore and Bhopal, has been postponed in light of the coronavirus scare, organisers said.
India could lose millions
A research by the Australian National University has reported in case of a "low end pandemic" from coronavirus, India and China could lose millions of people.
In that low-end pandemic, the study estimates that more than 15 million people would die within the first year of the outbreak, which started in China last December. In the worst case, the global death toll could reach a staggering 68 million.
(with inputs from agencies)