NEW DELHI, March 14 - The government on Saturday put the number of coronavirus positive cases in the country at 84 and issued directives to states specifying list of items and norms of assistance for containment of COVID-19 under their disaster funds.
Two persons � a 76-year-old man from Karnataka and a 68-year-old woman in Delhi � have died from coronavirus, which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) and has claimed over 5,000 lives across the globe.
The Home Ministry said funds earmarked under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) can be utilised for procurement of essential equipment and measures taken to quarantine people. It issued a two-page directive to all states specifying �list of items and norms of assistance for containment of COVID-19 virus in India, eligible from SDRF�.
Several states ordered closure of schools, colleges, public institutions and cinema halls. The Jammu and Kashmir administration issued prohibitory orders in Kishtwar and Ramban districts, restricting assembly of more than five persons at any public place.
The Goa government also announced closure of casinos, swimming pools and pubs from Sunday midnight. The Punjab government ordered a shutdown of cinema halls and banned public gatherings including cultural events till further notice to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) suspended all classes, including sessional tests, till March 22 as a precautionary measure. All conferences, workshops, educational tours and sports programmes have been postponed till March 31 though examinations of the university and schools will be held according to schedule.
The last rites of the woman who died here were performed at the CNG crematorium at Nigambodh Ghat here under supervision of medical authorities. Doctors from the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital here and from MCD oversaw the funeral after the crematorium staff reached out to the authorities seeking directives on ensuring that the infection didn�t spread from the body.
The Health Ministry said it has begun working on framing guidelines for handling the bodies of those who die of the disease. Though it is unlikely that coronavirus infection could spread from handling of a body, the guidelines are being drafted to dispel any misconception and raise awareness regarding spread of the disease from a deceased, a ministry official said.
The External Affairs Ministry announced that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lead India at a video conference of all SAARC nations on Sunday at 5 pm to chalk out a joint strategy to fight coronavirus in the region. On Friday, Modi proposed formulation of this joint strategy, a suggestion that was backed by all member states.
According to the Health Ministry, Kerala has reported 19 positive cases, Maharashtra 14, Uttar Pradesh 11, Delhi seven, Karnataka six, Ladakh three, Jammu and Kashmir two, and Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab one case each.
The total number of 84 confirmed cases also includes 17 foreigners � 16 Italian tourists and a Canadian, it said.
Seven persons, who tested positive, including five from Uttar Pradesh and one each from Rajasthan and Delhi, have been discharged after treatment, a senior Health Ministry official said.
Special Secretary in the Health Ministry, Sanjeeva Kumar, said more than 4,000 people who had come in contact with those testing positive have been identified through contact tracing and are under surveillance. He said there have been cases of people not willing to be quarantined despite coming in contact with people testing positive.
He informed that a Mahan Air flight bringing back Indian passengers from Iran will land in Mumbai on Saturday midnight. A special Air India flight is also being sent to Milan in Italy on Saturday to bring back Indian students, he added.
Kumar said all essential facilities like community surveillance, quarantine, isolation wards, trained manpower, rapid response teams are being strengthened further in all states and union territories. � PTI