Domestic flights will resume today across India after a day of “hard negotiations”, the federal civil aviation minister said yesterday after some states sought to limit the number of flights.
Flights will restart under an easing of restrictions imposed over the coronavirus, though the number of new cases rose yesterday by a record 24-hour number. The 6,767 new cases took the total to over 131,000. Airlines are preparing to resume about a third of their domestic flight operations from today, without clarity over what quarantine rules may apply to passengers.
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal — business hubs and home to India’s busiest airports — had said they were not prepared to open for flights as coronavirus cases rose, state government officials said.
Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu agreed to operate limited flights from today while Andhra Pradesh would allow flights from tomorrow, federal Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter yesterday evening.
“It has been a long day of hard negotiations with various state government to recommence civil aviation operations in the country.....Domestic flights will recommence across the country from tomorrow,” he said.
The federal health ministry yesterday asked states to design quarantine plans based on symptoms of passengers where those with moderate or severe symptoms would be taken to dedicated facilities. Those with mild symptoms must stay at home.
Airlines including IndiGo, India’s biggest carrier, SpiceJet Ltd and Vistara, a joint venture between Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, are preparing to restart some operations from today.
Budget carrier GoAir said it would resume flight operations from June 1 as it awaits clarity on the readiness of states and airports.
Surge in Kerala
With 53 new Covid-19 positive cases registered yesterday and 62 on Saturday, Kerala saw a surge of over 100 positive cases in the past two days, the highest registered so far, but termed it “expected”, attributing it to the returnees.
Out of these cases, 18 were among those who returned from abroad and 29 from those coming back from various states of the country.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in a Facebook post, said that as on date, the state has 322 active cases, while 520 have been cured of the disease.
With more cases being reported from across the state, the number of hot spots shot up yesterday from 37 to 55.
State Health Minister K.K.Shailaja, however, said that the rise was expected with more and more people coming back from abroad and within the country.
“All what one needs to do is to ensure that all those who are in isolation/quarantine stay indoors....if not, things will be more complicated. We managed the first two phases and the third phase is currently on and each and everyone has to ensure that they do not do anything which is not in tune with the directives of the health authorities,” she said.
Out of around 600,000 people — 400,000 from abroad and 200,000 from within the country — registered to return to Kerala since travel was permitted, so far 93,404 people have come, including 9,400 by air and sea and the rest by train and road.
Currently, 94,662 people are under observation in homes, while 732 are in hospitals.
There are more challenges for tomorrow, as the postponed Class 10 and 12 examinations begin with a record 1.3mn students having to come out of their homes and head to various schools in the state for them.
Minister tests positive
Maharashtra PWD Minister Ashok Chavan is reported to have tested Covid-19 positive, party sources said in Mumbai yesterday.
The former chief minister’s condition has been described as asymptomatic and he is under treatment in Nanded, his home town.
He is the second minister in the Maha Vikas Aghadi govermnent to test positive after Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad was diagnosed last month.
After nearly a month’s treatment, Awhad was fully cured and discharged
Maharashtra saw its Covid-19 tally crossing the 50K mark with the highest single-day infections of 3,041 patients catapulting the number of cases to 50,231, besides 58 deaths, health officials said yesterday.
This comes to roughly one death every 25 minutes, and a staggering average 127 new cases recorded every hour in the state.
The state has been recording over 50 fatalities and over 2,000 new patients for the past one week now, with the previous highest figure standing at 2,940 cases on May 22.
With 58 fatalities — down by 18 from highest 76 notched on May 19 — the state death toll has touched 1,635.
The Health Department said with the new cases, 33,988 were ‘active cases’.
Of the total 58 fatalities, 39 were recorded in Mumbai alone, taking the city deaths up from 949 to 988 now, while the number of Covid-19 positive patients here shot up by 1,725 cases to touch 30,542.
Besides Mumbai’s 39 deaths, there were six each in Pune and Solapur, four in Aurangabad, two in Thane (Thane City and Mira-Bhayander) and one in Latur.
On the positive side, 1,196 fully cured patients returned home yesterday, taking the number of those discharged to 14,600.
Addressing the state yesterday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has warned of cases spiking in the next few days besides hinting at an extension of the lockdown 4.0 and flight restrictions.
With 130 new positive cases, Karnataka’s tally rose to 2,089-mark, while 46 were discharged from hospitals taking the number of cured persons to 654, said an official said in Bengaluru yesterday.
The number of active cases in the state is 1,391 and Covid-19 deaths 42, including two for non-Covid cause.
No death was reported during the last 24 hours in the southern state.
Spike in NE states
Sikkim reported its first coronavirus case and Arunachal Pradesh a fresh case while Assam registered 64 new cases in the past 24 hours, taking the state’s total tally to 392 as of yesterday night.
In Gangtok, Sikkim Health Secretary Pemba T Bhutia said that the Himalayan state reported its first coronavirus case when a 25-year-old student who returned from Delhi last week tested positive on Saturday.
The student from Rabangla in South Sikkim district is admitted at Sir Thutob Namgyal Memorial Hospital in Gangtok. Hospital sources said his condition was stable.
A month after Arunachal Pradesh became coronavirus free, an Arunachal student who has returned back to the state from Delhi by bus along with 33 other people on May 18 has tested Covid-19 positive yesterday.
The border state had become coronavirus free after its lone patient, a 31-year-old man who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi, was discharged from hospital on April 24.
In Manipur, three people, including a woman, tested positive on Saturday night taking the state’s total cases to 32 with 28 of them active.
In Tripura, three people, who recently came from Delhi, tested positive yesterday night taking the state’s total Covid-19 positive cases to 194, which included 161 Border Security Force personnel and their kin.
However, only 27 cases are active.
In Guwahati, Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that 90% of the 392 Covid-19 patients in the state have been reported from quarantine centres across the state.
He said out of 33 districts, Dhemaji in eastern Assam has reported no coronavirus case, while Hojai in central Assam, had the highest number — 77 — of cases.
“So far by train and by road, 60,000 people, mostly from southern and western India, returned to Assam. Over 1.2mn people of the state are residing in different parts of the country,” the minister told the media yesterday evening.
Out of the total cases, 57 people have been discharged from hospitals after they recovered from the disease and three migrated to other states, while four died, including a 16-year-old girl.
The Meghalaya government in a notification said that after arrival by aircraft and railways up to Guwahati, the Transport Department would arrange buses to pick up the Meghalaya-bound people, who would be taken to Shillong or Tura for testing.
These people would be kept in institutional quarantine for up to 48 hours till the test results of the samples are known.
A Mizoram government notification said that no person shall board any flight bound for Lengpui Airport in Aizawl without obtaining prior permission from Mizoram Home Department and any person arriving there without a movement permit shall not be allowed to leave the airport.
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