New Delhi: Novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 195 on Friday after 22 more people were infected with the fast-spreading virus in various parts of the country, according to Health Ministry data.
However, according to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) data updated on March 20, a total of 206 individuals have been found positive among suspected cases and contacts of known positive cases.
Among those found positive for coronavirus are 32 foreign nationals, including 17 from Italy, three from the Philippines, two from the UK, one each belonging to Canada, Indonesia and Singapore.
The figure also includes four deaths reported from Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra so far.
"The total number of active COVID 2019 cases across India stands at 171 so far," the ministry said, adding that 20 others have been cured/discharged/migrated while four have died.
"A total of 14,376 samples from 13,486 individuals have been tested for SARS-CoV2 as on March 20," according to ICMR.
Delhi has, so far, reported 17 positive cases which includes one foreigner, while Uttar Pradesh has recorded 19 cases, including one foreigner.
Maharashtra has 47 cases, including three foreigners, while Kerala has recorded 28 cases which include two foreign nationals.
Karnataka has 15 coronavirus patients. The number of cases in Ladakh rose to 10 and Jammu and Kashmir four. Telangana has reported 16 cases which include nine foreigners.
Rajasthan has also reported seven cases including that of two foreigners. Tamil Nadu has three cases so far while Andhra Pradesh has two.
In Haryana, there are 17 cases, which include 14 foreigners.
Infections have not reached community level: Vardhan
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said coronavirus infections had not reached the "community level" and asserted the government is trying to use "good information" in the best manner to deal with the situation.
"We are in touch with everything going on the research front," he said.
The minister told Lok Sabha that there is a well-defined protocol and scientific advice on who needs to be tested for the coronavirus infection.
Measures have been taken for detailed tracing of contacts and that the ICMR is conducting tests, he said.
He also said that the coronavirus infection has not reached "community level".
"We are trying to use good information... for best use of our country," Vardhan said during the Question Hour about the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
Noting that the government is in regular contact with the World Health Organisation (WHO), the minister said that as per information available, "I don't think there is any need for apprehensions".
Rail official who hid her COVID-19 positive son suspended
An official of South Western Railway has been suspended for "hiding" her son, who returned from Germany and later tested positive for coronavirus, at a railway guest house in Bengaluru, officials said in Bengaluru on Friday.
She not only failed to inform authorities about her son's return from Germany but also endangered the lives of others by lodging him in a railway rest house near the main Bangalore railway station, railway spokesperson E Vijaya told PTI.
The Assistant Personnel Officer (Traffic) has been suspended, Vijaya said.
The 25-year-old man, who came from Germany via Spain and was instructed to be in home quarantine after he landed at the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru on March 13, later tested positive for COVID-19 on March 18, a railway spokesperson told PTI.
"She virtually hid her son to protect her family but endangered all of us," a South Western Railway official said.
In a statement, Vijaya said as per the recent Karnataka Epidemic (the Karnataka Epidemic Diseases, COVID-19 Regulations, 2020) Act, any person with a travel history to a country affected by COVID-19 or coming in contact with such person shall declare the same and intimate the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Karnataka.
"She came in contact with her son who recently returned from Germany via Spain and she did intimate the state government or the Railways about the same. "The officer chose to quarantine her son in a government rest house frequented by railway officials, posing a potential public health hazard," the statement said.
Officials said the suspended officer had also visited her office.
"The boy stayed in a rest house from Friday to Sunday (March 13-March 15). He himself went for a check up at a hospital and his test reports later revealed he is positive for coronavirus.
"As a preventive measure, the rest house has now been closed and the cleaning staff are kept under quarantine. All the officers and families who stayed in the rest house are being informed to be on look out and be alert for symptoms, if any. Details of people who stayed have been shared with state government too. Fumigation is being done," the spokesperson said.
SC stays Kerala HC order of not levying taxes till April 6
The Supreme Court on Friday stayed a Kerala High Court order asking authorities not to levy taxes and recover banks' dues from people till April 6 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
A bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar took note of the submissions of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the Centre, that the Kerala High Court order needed to be stayed.
Mehta told the bench that a similar order had been passed by the Allahabad High Court too.
He said the authorities were conscious of the difficulties faced by the people amid the coronavirus situation and they would be evolving a proper mechanism to ensure people don’t face problems.
Mehta said various taxes, including the goods and services tax, were also payable online and the high court should not have passed such an order.
The apex court granted an ex-parte order on Centre's plea and issued notice to the persons who had moved the Kerala High Court with the plea.