Editorial: Combined efforts needed

A spike in deaths from the coronavirus in Spain has pushed the global toll past 6,000, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources. Meanwhile, in India, the number of novel coronavirus cases rose to 107 on Sunday, with Maharashtra reporting the highest followed by Kerala, while over 450 stranded Indians were flown back from Italy and Iran, the two worst affected countries after China, and quarantined.

Extending the border restrictions in view of the Coronavirus outbreak, the government has suspended travel and registration of pilgrims to Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara through the corridor from Sunday midnight, besides movement of all types of passengers to Pakistan through international border points.

Earlier, the government had announced suspension of all types of passenger movement from 00:00 hours on March 15 through the Indo-Bangla, Indo-Nepal, Indo-Bhutan and Indo-Myanmar borders barring a few specified border checkposts.

In a video conference of SAARC members, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed setting up a COVID-19 emergency fund with India committing USD 10 million initially for it, and asserted that the best way to deal with the pandemic was by coming together, and not growing apart.

Apart from Modi, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Nepalese Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, Bhutanese premier Lotay Tshering, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister on Health Zafar Mirza, participated in the video conference.

According to Union Health Ministry, there are 107 cases in India so far including the two persons who died in Delhi and Karnataka and 17 foreigners.

Twelve more people have tested positive in Maharashtra, taking the number of cases to 31, it said. But state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said there were 32 cases. Delhi has so far reported seven positive cases, Kerala 22 and Uttar Pradesh 11.

Karnataka has six coronavirus patients while Ladakh three and Jammu and Kashmir had two. Telangana reported three cases. Rajasthan also reported two cases.

Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab have reported one case each. In Kerala, 20 Dubai-bound passengers were detained at the Kochi airport after a UK national, who was under surveillance but sneaked out and joined the group, tested positive for novel coronavirus, official sources said.

Earlier, the over 280 passengers of the Dubai-bound Emirates flight, which the group had taken, were offloaded at the airport. The flight left for Dubai in the afternoon after the 20 passengers were detained.

The UK national has been taken to an isolation facility at a nearby government hospital, a Cochin International Airport Limited spokesman said. Combined efforts to combat the pandemic is the need of the hour.

NT Bureau