Lockdown: The Centre has constituted six Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs), each led by officials of the rank of Additional Secretary, to visit Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and West Bengal to ensure proper implementation of the lockdown. The IMCTs will make on-the-spot assessments and issue directions to the States for redressal if needed. The civil aviation ministry will arrange the air transportation of these committee members. The governments of Delhi, Punjab and Karnataka have all said they will not allow any relaxations till the lockdown ends on May 3. Several other states have begun to allow some economic activity in parts that are designated as non-hotspots, as per the guidelines issued by the Home Ministry last week.
Covid Watch: The number of positive coronavirus cases reported from India stood at 18,277 at the time of publishing this newsletter, with the death toll at 588. There have been 283 new COVID-19 positive cases in Maharashtra over a 12-hour span, taking the State’s tally to 4,483. 43 more cases have been reported from Tamil Nadu, taking the total to 1520. The Health ministry said that the overall recovery rate in COVID-19 cases stand at 14.75%, and that in the last seven days, the doubling rate for new cases was 7.5, as compared to 3.4 days before the lockdown. Based on data till 19th April, 18 States have shown better performance than the national average.
Faulty Kits: Amid claims by the West Bengal Department of Health and Family Welfare that testing kits being supplied by ICMR-NICED about two weeks ago have started to
“throw up a large number of inconclusive results”, representatives of NICED (National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Disease) admitted that the kits may have some glitches. “This has been noted by the ICMR as well….. It is unfortunate that the kits are not standardised by the manufacturer to give exact results… The matter is being seriously addressed by the ICMR,”NICED director Shanta Dutta
Journalists test positive: At least 53 journalists have tested positive for COVID-19 in Mumbai, according to a BMC health committee member. Samples of 167 journalists had been collected for testing, of which 53 came out positive. These include reporters, photojournalists, as well as cameramen of various news organisations.
Mallya loses appeal: Liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya has lost his appeal against his extradition to India in relation to charges of fraud and money-laundering, amounting to an alleged Rs. 9,000 crore.
“We consider that while the scope of the prima facie case found by the SDJ [Senior District Judge] is in some respects wider than that alleged by the Respondent in India [Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Enforcement Directorate (ED)], there is a prima facie case which, in seven important respects, coincides with the allegations in India,”the judges of the Royal Courts of Justice in London, who presided over the appeal, ruled.
Oil prices: US oil prices crashed today to nearly $11 per barrel, the lowest level since 1998. Traders are concerned that oil storage facilities are reaching their limits and stockpiles are continuing to build owing to the crash in demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.