The Centre on Wednesday announced guidelines for the resumption of Metro rail services in the country, even as COVID-19 caseload in the country surged past 37 lakh with 78,357 fresh infections reported in 24 hours.
The cumulative toll rose to 66,333 with 1,045 more fatalities the recovery rate reached 76.98 percent, said the health ministry in its morning update. The health ministry said 54 percent of the COVID-19 cases reported in India are in the age group of 18-44 years, while 51 percent deaths are among people aged 60 and above.
During the day, several states including Maharashtra and Karnataka released figures showing record daily jumps in cases and deaths. While Maharashtra registered its biggest single-day spike of 17, 433 new cases, Karnataka recorded 9,860 fresh infections — the highest in a day so far. Punjab’s toll mounted to 1,618 with a record 106 deaths reported in 24 hours.
In Uttarakhand, Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat went into self-quarantine for the second time after an officer on special duty tested positive. The state Cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday was also postponed as a result.
Centre issues guidelines for operating Metro trains
The Centre released the Standard Operating Procedures for the resumption of metro rail services, including measures like mandatory face masks and thermal screening of passengers. All states with metro connectivity, except Maharashtra, are set to begin operations from September 7.
The Centre allowed Metro services to resume under the recently released Unlock-4 guidelines.
Resumption of metro rail systems across the country (except Maharashtra) was announced today.
These will resume in a graded & calibrated manner from 7 Sept 2020.
This decision, has been taken after due consideration, & will be implemented with due caution & care. pic.twitter.com/wnN0efOiAj
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) September 2, 2020
Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri said multi-route metro networks will resume services from 7 September in a graded manner in order to make all lines operational by 12 September. However, metro stations in containment zones will continue to remain closed.
The Metro timings will be staggered, to begin with and only a limited number of trains will ply. Adequate dwell time at stations will be provided to enable smooth boarding/deboarding with proper social distancing. Metro rail corporations can also skip stations where social distancing measures are not followed.
The authorities will make suitable markings at stations and inside trains to ensure norms of physical distancing are followed. They will also provide sanitisers at the entrance gates of the station, stated the guidelines.
Passengers will have to wear masks at all times and only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board after undergoing thermal screening at the gates. The use of Smart Cards and cashless/online transactions will be encouraged. Tokens and paper slips/ticket will have to be used with proper sanitization, said the minister.
The Centre also directed that the intake of fresh air into the air-conditioning system be increased as much as possible.
Metro services in Mumbai will remain suspended but Delhi, Noida, Chennai, Kochi, Bangalore, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Maha Metro (Nagpur), Kolkata, Gujarat and UP Metro (Lucknow) have prepared their respective SOPs, Puri said.
Delhi Metro’s Yellow Line to resume from 7 Sept
After the Centre released the SOPs, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) chief Mangu Singh said that Delhi Metro Yellow Line from Samaypur Badli to Huda City Centre will be made operational from 7 September. Initially, the Delhi Metro will run in two shifts — 7-11 am and 4-8 pm and normal operations will resume from 12 September, Singh said.
Inter-district buses to resume in Tamil Nadu from 7 September
Inter-district bus transport and passenger train services within Tamil Nadu would be permitted from 7 September, Chief Minister K Palaniswami announced. While bus transport is allowed only within districts as of now, there were representations from the public to the government seeking facilitation of services to go from one district to another, he said.
“Considering public welfare, following the Standard Operating Procedure, from 7 September, inter-district government and private bus transport will be allowed across Tamil Nadu,” Palaniswami said in a statement.
Similarly, from the same date, passenger train services within Tamil Nadu shall be permitted, he said. Inter-state train services are already operational in permitted routes
Health ministry issues SOPs for exams
The Central government also released SOPs for exams during the COVID-19 pandemic, disallowing staff and students from containment zones, making mask and a health self-declaration mandatory.
The guidelines issued by the health ministry stated that authorities concerned should plan out the examination schedule in a staggered manner to avoid overcrowding at any examination center on any day. Only those examination centers which are outside the containment zone shall be allowed to function, it said.
Health Ministry issues SOP on preventive measures to be followed while conducting examinations to contain the spread of #COVID19
SOPs state, arrangements for personal protection gears like masks, hand sanitizers etc. to be made available by the relevant authorities pic.twitter.com/8V2d7R0Ke4
— ANI (@ANI) September 2, 2020
The guidelines also detailed sanitisations procedures for both pen-and-paper and computer-based exams.
The JEE exams kicked off on Tuesday while the NEET is scheduled to be held on 13 September. The UGC has also directed universities to hold final year exams before the end of September.
Maharashtra, Karnataka see record spikes; Uttarakhand CM goes into self quarantine
Meanwhile, states like Maharashtra, Haryana, Uttarkhand and Karnataka reported record spikes in their respective case tallies. Maharashtra’s COVID-19 case load surged to 8,25,739 with record 17,433 cases detected in a single day while the toll rose to 25,195 with 292 more fatalities.
Haryana reported 15 more COVID-19 fatalities on Wednesday, taking the toll to 721 as the state recorded its biggest single-day jump of 1,792 new cases, the health department’s daily bulletin said. With this, the infection count in the state rose to 68,218.
Uttarakhand also witnessed the highest single-day rise of 836 coronavirus cases, which took the state’s COVID-19 tally to 21,234, while 11 more people died of the disease. The toll due to the disease mounted to 291 in Uttarakhand, a state health department bulletin said.
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant said that he had tested positive for the viral infection and was in home isolation.
I wish to inform all that I have been detected COVID19 positive. I am asymptomatic and hence have opted for home isolation. I shall continue to discharge my duties working from home. Those who have come in my close contact are advised to take the necessary precautions.
— Dr. Pramod Sawant (@DrPramodPSawant) September 2, 2020
Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat once again quarantined himself as his OSD tested positive, sources told news agency PTI. A meeting of the state Cabinet was also postponed for the second time. Rawat had gone into quarantine on 25 August after one of his advisors tested positive. The chief minister has tested negative for the viral infection on 30 August
Karnataka registered a jump of of 9,860 new COVID-19 cases, propelling its overall case count to 3,61,341. 113 more fatalities in the last 24 hours took the state’s toll to 5,950. State capital Bengaluru saw its biggest single-day spike as well with 3,420 new cases, taking its overall tally to 1,35,512.
In Delhi, which saw a rise of 2,509 fresh COVID-19 cases, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baija directed officers to increase the testing capacity by implementing measures such as providing ”testing on-demand”, setting up testing facilities at the National Capital’s border points and carrying out screening at major construction sites.
Goa logged 636 new cases while Punjab’s toll climbed to 1,618 with record 106 deaths reported in a single day.
Fatality rate dips to 1.76, says health ministry
In its morning update, the health ministry said that India has so far reported 37,69,523 cases of the viral infection. The total number of recoveries in the country has surged to 29,01,908, while the fatality rate has further declined to 1.76 percent. There are 8,01,282, active cases in the country comprising 21.26 percent of the total caseload, the data updated at 8 am showed.
— Ministry of Health (@MoHFW_INDIA) September 2, 2020
The ministry also said that 36 percent of the fatalities reported are in the age group of 45-60 years, 11 percent in the age group of 26-44 years and 1 percent each among people aged 18-25 years and those below 17 years. As far as cases of coronavirus infection are concerned, 54 percent are in the age group 18-44 years, 26 percent among those aged 45 to 60 years, eight percent among those below 17 years and 12 percent among those 60 years and above, it stated.
Beijing to receive international flights
Globally, the viral infection has affected over 2.58 crore people and claimed the lives of over 8.58 lakh, according to John Hopkins University’s coronavirus tracker.
In China, where the first cases surfaced, authorities said the flights from low caseload countries will be allowed into Beijing starting on Thursday, after a freeze of over five months.
The new rules will apply to flights from Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, Greece, Denmark, Austria, Sweden and Canada, all with low numbers of imported cases of the virus, reported news agency AFP.
But travellers would be subject to centralised quarantine on arrival for 14 days and have to take two coronavirus tests, an official said.
“Starting 3 September, international passenger flights to Beijing, which previously had their entry points diverted, will gradually resume,” the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a statement.
Since late March, as many as 511 Beijing-bound international flights have been diverted to other Chinese cities where passengers are screened for the coronavirus before being allowed to travel on to Beijing, the political heart of the country.
With inputs from agencies