India's coronavirus cases cross 600; here's all that happened today
Even as India, a nation of 1.3 billion people, observes a total lockdown, the number of coronavirus cases crossed 600 on Wednesday. The coronavirus disease, COVID-19, has also claimed 10 lives, according to the Health Ministry's website. The outbreak continues to accelerate in India, even as healthcare workers report a shortage of medical supplies. Here are the key developments of Wednesday.
The Health Ministry website, updated at 6:45 pm on Saturday, reported a total of 606 coronavirus cases. Out of these 553 are active cases, while 42 cases involve cured/discharged patients. These cases also include one patient who migrated and 10 fatalities. By 10 am on Wednesday, India had tested 22,928 samples from 22,038 persons, the Indian Council of Medical Research said.
22,038 people (16 per million) had been tested in India by 10 a.m. on March 25. Comparatively, other countries like Austria (3,683 per million), Italy (4,917/million) and the US (269/million) have been running more tests pic.twitter.com/6D98ha9rrT— IndiaSpend (@IndiaSpend) March 25, 2020
A 76-year-old man in Karnataka's Kalaburagi marked India's first COVID-19 death. Other coronavirus-related deaths: a 68-year-old woman in Delhi; a 63-year-old man, a 64-year-old man, and a 65-year-old man in Mumbai (Maharashtra); a 72-year-old man in Nawanshahr (Punjab); a 38-year-old man in Patna (Bihar); a 69-year-old man in Surat (Gujarat); a 68-year old man in Kangra (Himachal Pradesh); a 57-year-old in Dumdum (West Bengal).
Notably, the Health Ministry's website is yet to confirm the reported deaths of a 54-year-old man in Madurai (Tamil Nadu) and a 65-year-old woman in Indore (Madhya Pradesh). Separately, a 69-year-old Italian tourist had died of cardiac arrest in Jaipur earlier this month after recovering from COVID-19. A 68-year-old man from the Philippines died on Sunday in Mumbai after recovering from COVID-19.
ICMR on Wednesday notified a list of private labs that can conduct tests for COVID-19. These include nine labs in Maharashtra; four each in Delhi and Telangana; three each in Gujarat, Haryana and Tamil Nadu; two in Karnataka; and one in West Bengal. You can check the names of the labs here. Private hospitals will also start treating COVID-19 patients from Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation from Varanasi and urged people to seek verified information on coronavirus by texting 'Namaste' to the government's WhatsApp helpline 9013151515. Modi also condemned the harassment and ostracization of healthcare workers by landlords and neighbors.
On Wednesday, the first day of the 21-day lockdown, hundreds were booked for violating restrictions despite specific instructions allowing people to only leave their homes when essential. The Delhi Police confirmed that 180 cases were registered and 5,103 people were detained. Kerala, the second worst-hit Indian state, registered 402 cases for lockdown violations. Kerala has 112 confirmed coronavirus cases.
In light of the lockdown that will last until April 15, the first phase of Census 2021 and the updation of the National Population Register (NPR) was postponed until further orders. The two exercises were supposed to be conducted from April 1 to September 30.
India Army headquarters remained closed on Wednesday. Starting tomorrow, only 5-10% of essential staff will work from home. Uttar Pradesh banned pan masala as spitting it can allow the spread of coronavirus. A journalist who attended former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath's press conference last week tested positive for COVID-19. The Centre approved the world's largest food security scheme, benefiting 80 crore people.
According to the Financial Times, the 80 crore beneficiaries will get 7 kg ration per month for the next three months: wheat at Rs. 2/kg instead of Rs. 27/kg, rice at Rs. 3/kg instead of Rs. 37/kg,
To make shopping for food and groceries during the lockdown easier, BigBazaar announced that it will start delivery services right to your doorstep. You can check if your local BigBazaar store is open here. Meanwhile, online delivery platforms BigBazaar and Grofers experienced a disruption of services. Flipkart has suspended its services, while Amazon has limited theirs to essential goods only.