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As many as 43 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported across India, after six people were tested positive for the virus in Kerala. Kerala Health Minister K.K. Shailaja said the State had been put on high alert in the wake of the new cases.

Meanwhile, China, the epicentre of the virus, has reported 22 new deaths from the deadly coronavirus, the lowest number of fatalities in more than a month, taking the death toll to 3,119.

AI Express to offer free rescheduling of tickets

Air India Express on March 9 said passengers can reschedule their tickets free of cost for all bookings made between March 12-31, in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.

“In view of the uncertain travel situation due to COVID-19, free date change will be permitted up to three days prior to the flight departure, for all new bookings effected between March 12, 2020 to March 31, 2020, for travel up to April 30, 2020,” the airline said in a statement.

Cancellations charge would be applicable.

Iran death toll rises to 237

Iran on March 9 reported 43 new deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall toll to 237 dead.

Confirmed cases in Germany top 1,000

The number of COVID-19 cases in Germany has passed 1,000, official data from the Robert Koch Institute disease control centre showed on March 9.

There are now a total of 1,112 confirmed cases in Europe’s biggest economy, with the region of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) reporting 484 infections — the highest number among Germany’s 16 states.

In a bid to slow contagion, Health Minister Jens Spahn has called for gatherings of more than 1,000 people to be scrapped across Germany, which could affect many events including Bundesliga football matches.

Govt prepared to deal with coronavirus, Health Ministry sending directives to states: Vardhan

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday said the government is prepared to deal with novel coronavirus and his ministry is sending directives, including guidelines, to states in all the languages on ways to contain it.

“We are sending detailed guidelines to all states on ways to contain coronavirus. Have asked states to strengthen laboratories and manpower to effectively deal with coronavirus and form early rapid action teams,” Mr. Vardhan told reporters adding, that the government is prepared to deal with the infection.

The Health Minister chaired a review and coordination meeting with Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, mayors of the Municipal Corporations of Delhi and senior officials of various departments.

“We can’t take it easy or be over confident. We have to be ready, monitor regularly and ensure robust contact tracing,” Mr. Vardhan added. He urged people to avoid mass gatherings and explained: “Mask is not for all. Only those unwell need to use it.”

Mr. Vardhan stressed on coordinated action between all concerned departments and agencies for activities such as contact tracing, community surveillance, hospital management, identification of isolation wards, ensuring adequate personal protection equipment and masks and risk communication for mass awareness.

 Telcos using caller tune to spread awareness

The government has ordered all telecom firms to make a 30-second audio clip on coronavirus as a caller tune of mobile phone users to create awareness among masses — an order that state-owned BSNL and Reliance Jio have fully complied with while other telcos are yet to follow.

Top sources said on a request from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) ordered superseding of the phone ringing tone that one hears on dialling a number, with the 30-second information clip.

The only exception to not hearing the coronavirus message is when a user has subscribed to a particular tune, they said.



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