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Coronavirus: 92 new confirmed cases nationwide; Govt says no community transmission yet


Press Trust of India New Delhi
Fighting the COVID-19 crisis on a war footing, the government on Monday reported 92 new confirmed cases of infection and at least four deaths across India but maintained it was still in the local transmission stage. The Supreme Court, however, cautioned that fear and panic are becoming a bigger problem than the coronavirus.
The government also said there was no immediate plan to extend the 21-day lockdown period, which entered its sixth day on Monday, while the Indian Army dismissed as "fake" social media posts about a possible emergency declaration next month.
Interacting with organisations involved in social work via video conferencing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked them to counter misinformation and superstition on coronavirus as he observed that people have been flouting social distancing norms in the name of belief.
As fresh cases of coronavirus cases were reported from various parts of the country including in Rajasthan, Haryana, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, including in Noida in the national capital region, the Delhi Police cordoned off a major area in Nizamuddin where several people showed symptoms of coronavirus after taking part in a religious gathering a few days ago.
Police said the gathering of around 200 people was organised without permission from authorities.
However, some good news came in the latest update from the Union Health Ministry which said the COVID-19 is still in local transmission stage in India and it took 12 days for cases of infection to rise from 100 to 1,000 at a rate of increase slower than some of the developed countries.
Addressing the daily press briefing on the actions taken, preparedness and updates on COVID-19, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health Lav Agarwal said 92 new cases and four deaths due to coronavirus have been reported in India since Sunday, taking total cases to 1,071 and the number of deaths to 29.
"It took 12 days for cases to rise from 100 to 1,000 in our country, whereas seven other developed nations having lesser population than us have seen multiple increase," he said, while asserting that there has been no community transmission as yet.
He urged all to maintain social distancing, saying even one person's carelessness may lead to spread of coronavirus pandemic.
Agarwal attributed the slow pace of rise in cases in India to people's participation in strictly following the social distancing guidelines and the collective preemptive actions taken by the Centre in tandem with state governments.
The worldwide tally of deaths has crossed 34,600, with more than 25,000 people dying in Europe. Globally, more than 7,28,000 people have been detected positive so far, out of which nearly 1,42,300 have recovered, as per various reports.
In UK, Prince Charles appeared recovering and moved out of self-isolation, but Israeli Prime Minister entered quarantine after an aide tested positive for the deadly virus.
Raman R Gangakhedkar, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said 38,442 tests have been conducted till now in India, out of which 3,501 were done on Sunday.
He said 47 private laboratories have been given approval for conducting COVID-19 tests and in the last three days, 1,334 tests have been done in private labs.
However, the government had to clarify that there was no immediate plan to extend the 21-day lockdown amid fears that shutdown of businesses across the country to counter the spread of the virus may trigger severe economic and social distress.
The Indian Army also clarified that no effort is being initiated to rope in services of retired personnel, the National Cadet Corps and the volunteers enrolled under the National Service Scheme in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.
The Supreme Court also stepped in amid a crisis created by thousands of migrant workers trying to return to their natives places after being rendered jobless and homeless due to the lockdown.
The apex court observed that the panic and fear are becoming a "bigger problem than coronavirus", and sought a status report from the Centre by Tuesday on the measures taken to prevent the exodus.
Hearing two separate petitions through video conferencing, the court said it would not create more confusion by issuing directions on measures which the government is already taking, before looking at the status report from the Centre.
Separately, the government told all its departments to pay high priority to public grievances related to coronavirus.
The Railway Board told its zonal units to be ready to convert up to 20,000 train coaches into isolation wards for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Steps have also been initiated for releasing thousands of prisoners in overcrowded jails across the country on interim bail or parole in an unprecedented step to prevent the spread of coronavirus and also to avoid any clashes.
Among new cases, 16 new coronavirus positive cases were reported in Uttar Pradesh, taking the total tally in the state to 88. Of this, 14 have fully recovered and discharged, while the national capital's adjoining Gautam Buddh Nagar district alone has reported 36 cases, officials said.
In West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee warned that any one ostracizing healthcare workers treating COVID-19 patients will be arrested.
In Uttar Pradesh, a some officials were seen forcefully sanitising a group of migrants with 'chemicals", which prompted the apex child rights body NCPCR to demand disciplinary and penal action against officials responsible for this.
The Congress and other opposition parties also demanded action on such behaviour.
The main opposition party also demanded that the central government bring in a law or rule to ensure there is no retrenchment of workers in the private sector for six months till August in the wake of lockdown due to coronavirus.

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First Published: Mar 30 2020 | 7:16 PM IST

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