Total cases 1.16 lakh, up by 50% in 14 days; deaths 3494

TNN Bureau. Updated: 5/22/2020 12:56:45 PM Front Page

One-third domestic flights to resume from Monday

NEW DELHI: India's COVID-19 tally crossed 1.16 lakh on Thursday with more than half of it getting reported in just about a fortnight amid large-scale movement of migrants in special trains and arrival of stranded Indians and expatriates from abroad. The government, however, stressed that the mortality rate in India has remained less than half of the global average of 6.65 per cent.
Authorities also announced detailed guidelines for resumption of domestic flights after a gap of two months, while business activities and public movement gained further momentum on the fourth day of the much-relaxed fourth phase of the nationwide lockdown that has been in place since March 25.
The nationwide death toll due to the deadly virus infection has neared 3,500 with a mortality rate of about 3 per cent, while more than 47,000 have recovered so far. At least 15 other countries have recorded more deaths than India so far.
In its morning 8 AM update, the Union Health Ministry said the death toll due to COVID-19 has risen to 3,435 and the number of confirmed cases to 1,12,359 in the country, registering an increase of 132 deaths and 5,609 cases in the last 24 hours. It put the number of active cases at 63,624 and recoveries at over 45,000.
However, a tally of figures announced by different states and union territories, as of 9.30 PM, showed a higher number of confirmed cases at 1,16,295 and the death toll at 3,494. It showed an increase of 5,705 cases and 139 fatalities since Wednesday evening, while recoveries also rose during this period by more than 2,700 to 47,487.
More than half of this cumulative number of confirmed cases have been reported since May 8 -- the day when the morning update by the Union Health Ministry had put the number of confirmed cases at 56,342.
India reported its first COVID-19 case on January 30, while the 100-mark was reached 45 days later on March 15. However, the 1,000-mark was reached much faster on March 29 and the 10,000-mark was breached on April 13. The 50,000-mark was breached on May 6, while it took less than two weeks for the next 50,000 cases with the one-lakh mark being reached on May 18.
Globally, more than 50 lakh people have tested positive for the deadly virus infection since its emergence in China last December, while nearly 3.3 lakh have lost their lives. More than 19 lakh people have recovered so far.
The government officials have said that the time taken in India for the case count to move from 100 to one lakh has been much better at 64 days, which was better than many other badly-hit countries and actually double the time taken in the US and Spain.
After a two-month hiatus, one-third of the scheduled domestic flights would be flying from Monday after the airlines adhere to the government-prescribed limits on airfares categorised in seven bands based on flight duration, even as the Civil Aviation Minister indicated that the ministry was not in favour of quarantining passengers on short-haul flights.
Unveiling a set of detailed pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight guidelines on Thursday, the civil aviation ministry advised people vulnerable like the elderly, pregnant women and passengers battling health issues to avoid air travel till the coronavirus pandemic abates.
Noting that all stakeholders such as airlines, airports have cooperated, Puri said,"operations will start on 1/3 of the approved Summer schedule for domestic routes in a calibrated manner from 25 May 2020 and will be scaled up gradually. After domestic travel has been eased, we will address the issue of international travel depending on the evolving situation."
Claiming that a lot of "fuss" was being made over quarantine of passengers on domestic flights, Puri "I don't know why we are making such a fuss on the quarantine issue. This is domestic travel. Same laws will apply here that applies when you travel by train or a bus... People who are positive will not be allowed to board the flights."
"If I go to Kerala, will I be put under quarantine for 14 days? Then on my return, will I be put under quarantine again for 14 days? This is not practical," he added.
Puri said all the air travel routes have been divided into seven bands based on the duration of flights ranging from 40 minutes to 210 minutes. The aim of the exercise is to prescribe upper and lower limits of fares and the caps on fares would be in place till August 24.
Later, DGCA issued the government-decided fare limits for these bands --domestic flights with less than 40-minute duration to have lower and upper limit of Rs 2000 and Rs 6000, for 40-60 minutes Rs 2,500 and Rs 7,500, for 60-90 minutes Rs 3,000 and Rs 9,000, for 90-120 minutes Rs 3,500 and Rs 10,000, for 120-150 minutes Rs 4500 and Rs 13000, for 150-180 minutes Rs 5500 and Rs 15700.
Flights with duration between 180-210 mins, like ones on Delhi-Coimbatore route, to have lower and upper limit of Rs 6500 and Rs 18600, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said in its circular.
As per the Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs), there would be no meals on board, while rules include mandatory temperature checks for all passengers and allowing only one check-in bag for each passenger. People who were tested positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel. All the passengers will have to wear masks while entering the airports and thereafter.

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