Coronavirus cases near 1,400 in India amid lockdown; toll rises to 35

Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) workers carry out fumigation in city center Lalchowk during nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the spread of the coronavirus | Photo: ANI
After a week of the lockdown, the active coronavirus cases in the country stood at 1,397 against the global tally of 803,541.

The death toll in India has risen to 35 from 10 at the time lockdown was announced on March 24. While big cities such as Delhi and Mumbai are witnessing a sharp spike in Covid-19 positive cases, Nizamuddin in the national capital was clearly the centre of attention on Tuesday. Even at the routine press conference on the virus, the questions revolved around the cases originating from a religious congregation in Nizamuddin earlier this month and how they might impact the national tally going forward.

The Union government has maintained that the country has not progressed to community transmission phase of the pandemic. However, a spike in cases across the country hints at cluster formations, and authorities remain on the edge while undertaking stringent contact tracing and cluster management strategies.

Speaking to the media, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the Union health ministry, held “lack of people’s support and delay in detection of cases’’ responsible for the rise in cases across the country.

With the cases rising, the number of hotspots in the country has increased, he said. ‘

’The government is using cluster containment strategies and doing rigorous contact tracing in these hotspots to check the virus from further spreading," he added. Even a single case of Covid-19  is as good as a hotspot for the government, according to the ministry of health.

On Tuesday alone, Maharashtra saw as many as 72 new coronavirus cases, with most of them from Mumbai alone, taking the total number of Covid-19 cases in the state to over 300. The country's financial capital is now trying to contain the spread and avoid cluster formations by locking down parts of the city like chawls in Worli, the business hub of the city. With densely packed houses and common toilets, thousands living in these chawls now are at risk with multiple positive cases being reported from that area.

A similar situation is brewing in Delhi's Nizammuddin, where test results are awaited from suspected persons. As many as 2,100 foreigners visited India for Tablighi activities since January 1 and all of them first reported at its headquarters in Nizamuddin where a congregation happened earlier this month.

The home ministry said while approximately 824 of them, as on March 21, were dispersed in different parts of the country, 216 of them were staying at Nizamuddin Markaz, where several of them tested positive. The Delhi government added that of the 1,500 plus who were evacuated from the Markaz in the past 48 hours, 441 remained in hospital and so far 24 were tested positive.

The spillover effect continued to be demonstrated in other parts of the country with the Andhra Pradesh government saying that of the 17 new cases of the dreaded pandemic on Tuesday, 13 traced back the source of infection to the religious meeting in Delhi. Similarly, new cases in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand emerged with the source of infection being traced to the same event.

Among the southern states, Tamil Nadu reported a jump in the number of cases with 57 reporting positive. Of this, 50 have a travel history to Delhi.

Meanwhile, crisis continues at the state borders where migrant workers are stuck in no-man's land. In Rajasthan-Gujarat border, it is learnt that the former denied entry to non-Rajasthani workers and sent them back to Gujarat. Over 500 such labourers are now being sent to shelter homes across Gujarat.

In an evening presser, the home ministry sidestepped a question on an intelligence failure allowing the organizers to proceed with the event at Nizamuddin. The government was silent on two key questions: the number of hotspots in the country and how many health professionals were infected during treatment.


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