International desk, April 16: The COVID-19 pandemic has killed 414 in India, with 37 deaths reported in the last 24 Hours, government data shows. The number of people infected by the novel coronavirus in India has risen to 12,380 on Thursday. A list of 170 hotspot districts was released on Wednesday by the centre, which includes all six metros and most large cities.
The list marked 123 districts as “large outbreaks” — which includes all nine districts of national capital Delhi. Mumbai, Kolkata, nine districts of Bengaluru Urban, Hyderabad, Chennai, Jaipur and Agra were among the areas marked hotspots also on the list, NDTV reports.
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A “hotspot (red zone) classification” would be districts or cities contributing to more than 80 per cent of the cases in the country or the state. Places that show a high rate of infection — doubling rate less than four days – will also be in this category.
For a concerted push against the virus in red zones, the government said there should be special teams to conduct door-to-door surveys and tests. The tests will not just be for COVID-19. Patients of influenza-related illness and SARI (severe acute respiratory illness), will also be tested, since such patients have often tested positive for coronavirus.
Some industries in rural areas, e-commerce, IT and farming will be allowed after April 20, the government said on Wednesday in new guidelines a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the nationwide coronavirus lockdown till May 3 and said restrictions would be relaxed after a week in the least infected parts of India.
The government says it will also allow the construction of roads and buildings in rural areas and the manufacture of IT hardware to reduce the distress of millions during a prolonged lockdown to slow the spread of coronavirus.
States will be responsible for ensuring that all safety and social distancing protocols are in place, the home ministry guidelines say. The exemptions won’t apply to hotspots. PM Modi extended the restrictions as India crossed 10,000 coronavirus cases despite a 21-day lockdown.
The inter-state transport of goods, essential and non-essential items, will be allowed after April 20. Highway dhabas, truck repair shops and call centres for government activities can reopen from April 20. So can manufacturing units of pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
Manufacturing and other industrial establishments with access control will be allowed in special economic zones, industrial estates and industrial townships after implementation of SOP (standard operating procedure) for social distancing. Manufacture of IT hardware and of essential goods and packaging can resume.
All air, train and road travel, educational institutions; non-essential industrial and commercial activities, hotels, cinema halls, shopping complexes, theatres stay closed. Social, political and other events, religious centres and gatherings will also not be allowed.
The country’s top medical Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Wednesday said that a research study in China has shown that the coronavirus strain at the heart of the global COVID-19 pandemic is a mutated form of its variant found in bats.
“As per a research in China, it was found that coronavirus might have mutated in bats so as to infect humans,” said ICMR’s head scientist Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar. “There is also a possibility that bats might have transmitted it to pangolins, and from pangolins it got transmitted to humans,” he said.