Coronavirus: India's death toll crosses 80; over 2,500 infected
India on Friday witnessed a record single-day growth in the number of coronavirus infections, with 478 new cases emerging in the past 24 hours. The cumulative cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have now surged past 2,500 and the death toll stands at 86. Meanwhile, the Centre released Rs. 17,287 crore to help states in their fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the latest update from the Health Ministry, by 6 pm on Friday, India had reported a total of 2,547 COVID-19 cases. These include 62 deaths and 2,322 active cases, along with 162 cured/discharged patients, and one patient who has migrated out of India. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said 8,000 samples were tested for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.
Several state officials independently reported a higher death toll than listed on the Health Ministry's website. Apart from the 62 deaths confirmed by the Ministry, 24 additional deaths have been reported in the states of Maharashtra (total death toll: 26), Telangana (11), Gujarat (9), Madhya Pradesh (8), West Bengal (7), Delhi (6), and Himachal Pradesh (2). The total death toll is at least 86.
The Health Ministry said 14 states in India have reported cases linked to the Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation held in Delhi's Nizamuddin in mid-March. A total of 647 positive cases in India found in the last two days have been traced to the congregation.
Maharashtra remains the worst-hit state with 490 cases and 26 deaths. Tamil Nadu has reported the second-highest number of COVID-19 cases, 411, and one death. Delhi's COVID-19 cases jumped to 386 after 93 fresh cases were reported on Friday—259 are linked to the Tablighi Jamaat event. Six people have died in Delhi. Kerala has reported 295 COVID-19 cases and two deaths.
Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry released Rs. 17,287.08 crore to buttress the fight against coronavirus in several states. It includes Rs. 6,195.08 crore as 'revenue deficit grant' under the 15th Finance Commission recommendations to 14 states. The remaining Rs. 11,092 crore—directed towards all states—is an advance payment of the Centre's share of the first installment of State Disaster Risk Management Fund for the year 2020-21.
On a related note, India's oldest COVID-19 survivor, aged 93, and his 88-year-old wife were discharged from the Kottayam Medical Hospital in Kerala after recovering from the viral disease. A third case was reported from Mumbai's Dharavi—Asia's largest slum—where a man died on Wednesday. The person infected is a 35-year-old doctor. Further, the Election Commission has postponed the Rajya Sabha polls in view of the outbreak.
Separately, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre over a plea seeking orders to Central and state government to ensure payment of wages to migrant workers. The court dismissed a separate plea seeking orders to convert hotels into quarantine facilities for the workers.
The ICMR will collaborate with the World Health Organization in a multi-country "solidarity trial" which will be co-ordinated by Dr. Sheela Godbole in India. It is a randomized trial of additional treatments for COVID-19 in hospitalized patients. An official told PTI that over 30,000 doctors—including retired government, armed forces medical services, and private physicians—have volunteered to help fight against COVID-19.
Earlier in the day, PM Modi addressed the nation. He requested everyone to turn off all lights at 9 pm on Sunday and light a candle, diya, torch, or a mobile phone's flashlight, to "light our lives with hope amid the darkness of coronavirus pandemic."