The Union Ministry of Health and Family Wlefare said on Wednesday that 32 people have died and 773 persons have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in India since Tuesday, taking the death toll due to COVID-19 to 149 and cases to 5,194 so far.
Going by the health ministry’s data, the increase in number of cases between 9 am on Tuesday and 9 am on Wednesday is the highest in a 24-hour period.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country is facing a “social emergency” like situation as well as serious economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After an interaction with Modi via video conference, several political leaders said that the lockdown might not be lifted completely after 14 April.
“Prime Minister Modi made it clear that the lockdown is not being lifted and also that the life pre-corona and post-corona will not be same,” Biju Janata Dal leader Pinaki Misra told PTI.
Maharashtra continues to lead among states
New cases were reported from Maharashtra (including in Mumbai’s densely-populated Dharavi slums), Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir, among other places.
Ladakh’s Lok Sabha member Jamyang Tsering Namgyal said the virus spread has been successfully contained in the Union Territory, while Sikkim government said not a single case has been detected so far in the state.
The highest number of confirmed cases in the country are from Maharashtra at 1,018, followed by Tamil Nadu at 690 and Delhi with 576 cases.
Telangana has reported 364 COVID-19 cases followed by Kerala at 336. Rajasthan has 328 cases, Uttar Pradesh has 326 and Andhra Pradesh reported 305 coronavirus cases. The novel coronavirus cases have risen to 229 in Madhya Pradesh, 175 in Karnataka and 165 in Gujarat.
Haryana has 147 cases, Jammu and Kashmir has 116, West Bengal has 99 and Punjab has 91 positive patients so far. Odisha has reported 42 coronavirus cases.
Sixteen deaths were reported from Maharashtra, two each from Delhi, West Bengal, Haryana and Tamil Nadu and one from Andhra Pradesh.
In total, Maharashtra has reported the most coronavirus deaths at 64, followed by Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh at 13 each and Delhi at 9. Telengana, Punjab and Tamil Nadu have reported seven fatalities each.
Modi interacts with Opposition leaders, other parties
Interacting with floor leaders of Opposition and other parties via video conference, Modi said states, district administrations and experts have suggested extension of the ongoing lockdown beyond 14 April to contain the spread of the virus.
Modi told the leaders that the country is facing “serious economic challenges as a result of COVID-19, and the government is committed to overcoming them.”
After the meeting, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said around 80 percent of political parties suggested extension of the lockdown.
The leaders were told by the prime minister that he is receiving requests for extending the lockdown and will talk to chief ministers and experts before taking a decision in the nation’s best interest, Azad said.
Modi is scheduled to interact with all chief ministers on 11 April.
Uttarakhand and Goa joined several other states to favour extending the lockdown, while Punjab Government said it will take a call on 10 April on whether to extend the ongoing curfew in the state beyond 14 April.
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa told PTI that his government is in favour of lifting the lockdown in districts which have remained free of the infection, subject to approval from the Centre.
He also said that the state intends to relax liquor sales, stopped since the 21-day lockdown was imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19, after 14 April in a bid to increase state revenues.
Doctors are warriors, have to be protected: SC
Doctors and healthcare professionals are “warriors” in fight against coronavirus and have to be protected, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday even as the Centre assured that it is doing its best by providing them personal protective equipment (PPE) and other facilities.
The apex court suggested that the government should create a mechanism to solicit suggestions from people about how to go ahead on the issues related to COVID-19, including on providing treatment, regulatory mechanism for people working from home and also on lockdown.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and S Ravindra Bhat, hearing through video-conferencing three petitions seeking protective kits for doctors and healthcare workers amid coronavirus pandemic, was informed by the Centre that PPE kits and other requisite things are being arranged and it is taking steps in this regard.
Analyst predicts significant economic damage
An adverse impact of the pandemic on economic activities was reported from various segments. Global financial giant Goldman Sachs said the Indian economy might see a GDP growth of just 1.5 percent in the current fiscal.
Indian Railways, which was on its way till February to not just meet but surpass its freight loading target, will end 2019-20 with 15.7 million tonnes less than the previous financial year’s 1,212.56 million tonnes, official figures showed.
As business has dried up due to the pandemic with operations having been virtually shut down, earnings from freight loading have also plummeted — from Rs 1,25,354 crore in 2018-19 to Rs 1,23,225 crore in 2019-2020 fiscal, a loss of Rs 2,129 crore.
Sizeable chunk of hydroxychloroquine bought by US came from India: Trump
A sizeable chunk of the 29 million doses of hydroxychloroquine bought by the US to combat the coronavirus pandemic is from India, President Donald Trump has said as he acknowledged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “great” when he sought his help to allow the sale of the anti-malaria drug to treat the growing number of COVID-19 patients in America.
Trump and Modi spoke over the phone last week. During the call, Trump requested Modi to lift the hold on the American order of hydroxychloroquine, of which India is the major producer.
Hydroxychloroquine has been identified by the US Food and Drug Administration as a possible treatment for the COVID-19 and it is being tested on more than 1,500 coronavirus patients in New York.
Anticipating that it will work, given initial positive results, Trump has bought more than 29 million doses of hydroxychloroquine for potential treatment of COVID-19 patients.
“I bought millions of doses (of hydroxychloroquine). More than 29 million. I spoke to Prime Minister Modi, a lot of it (hydroxychloroquine) comes out of India. I asked him if he would release it? He was Great. He was really good,” Trump told Sean Hannity of the Fox News on Monday night.
Late on Wednesday, Trump also tweeted thanking the Indian government.
“Extraordinary times require even closer cooperation between friends. Thank you India and the Indian people for the decision on HCQ. Will not be forgotten!” Trump said, thanking Modi as well.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Apr 09, 2020 00:07:59 IST