Coronavirus: 682 dead in India; over 21,300 cases reportedLast updated on Apr 23, 2020, 02:32 am
On Wednesday, the number of coronavirus infections in India crossed 21,000, according to data compiled from official state and union territory statistics.
The death toll due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) now stands at 682.
Meanwhile, the Union Cabinet has proposed strengthened laws to prosecute growing attacks on healthcare workers, allowing up to 7 years' imprisonment.
Here are more details.
India's Health Ministry confirms 20,471 cases, 652 deaths
According to the Health Ministry's latest update, by 5 pm on Wednesday, India had reported a total of 20,471 COVID-19 cases.
These included 652 deaths and 15,859 active cases along with 3,959 cured/discharged patients and one patient who migrated out of India.
Data compiled from state and UT official statistics showed that the coronavirus has infected over 21,300 people in India and killed 682.
Maharashtra reports 5,600 cases; doubling time slows to 7.1 days
Maharashtra reported 431 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the state's total tally to 5,649.
269 people have died from the disease in Maharashtra while 789 have recovered.
State capital Mumbai alone reported 3,683 cases, including 161 deaths. These include the 189 cases and 12 deaths in Dharavi, Asia's largest slum.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the state's doubling time is 7.1 days.
6 other states report 1,000+ cases
As of Wednesday, six other states in India reported over 1,000 cases. Gujarat, the second worst-hit state, reported 2,407 COVID-19 cases, including 103 deaths.
Gujarat is followed by Delhi (2,238 cases, including 48 deaths), Rajasthan (1,888 cases, including 27 deaths), Tamil Nadu (1,629 cases, including 18 deaths), Madhya Pradesh (1,587 cases, including 80 deaths), and Uttar Pradesh (1,449 cases, including 21 deaths).
Laws to protect doctors, nurses, other health staff against violence
The Union Cabinet promulgated an ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, to strengthen laws to protect healthcare workers against increased violence and harassment.
A jail term of up to seven years is proposed along with a penalty of up to Rs. 5 lakh.
The development came after the Indian Medical Association (IMA) planned a protest, which has now been called off.
ICMR issues protocol over rapid testing kits
After complaints of faulty rapid antibody tests, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued a protocol, reiterating that the kits were meant for COVID-19 surveillance and not for diagnosis.
Earlier on Tuesday, the ICMR had asked states to stop using the kits for two days.
The two Chinese firms that supplied the kits are now subject to investigations by the ICMR.
No usable testing kits provided, claims West Bengal
West Bengal has refuted the allegations of low testing, claiming that the Centre has not supplied any usable testing kits (rapid antibody, RT-PCT, or antigen kits).
The ICMR said that till 9 pm on Wednesday, India had tested 4,62,621 samples from 4,47,812 individuals.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that no decision on resumption of flight operations has been taken yet.