A Srinagar Municipal Corporation worker uses a tractor equipped with disinfectants to sanitise different parts of the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic, on the 10th day of the 21-day nationwide lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the virus, on April 3, 2020.
A Srinagar Municipal Corporation worker uses a tractor equipped with disinfectants to sanitise different parts of the city amid the COVID-19 pandemic, on the 10th day of the 21-day nationwide lockdown imposed to stop the spread of the virus, on April 3, 2020. |IANS

India COVID-19 toll rises to 68, total number of cases crosses 2,900

By Sonny Abraham/NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, April 4, 2020

India today reported six more deaths due to coronavirus (COVID-19), raising the toll to 68, and 355 new cases of infection since last night, which have taken the total number so far to 2,902.

Three of the new deaths were reported from Maharashtra, two from Delhi and one from Gujarat, figures put out by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said this morning.

Of the total 68 deaths so far, Maharashtra accounted for the highest number at 19, followed by nine in Gujarat, seven in Telangana, six each in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh, five in Punjab, three each in Karnataka and West Bengal, two each in Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

The total number of 2,902 cases includes the 68 deaths and 184 patients who have been cured, which meant there were 2,650 active cases of the virus in the country as of this morning.

Of the total 2,902 cases, Maharashtra accounted for the highest number at 423, followed by 411 in Tamil Nadu, 295 in Kerala, 386 in Delhi, 179 in Rajasthan, 174 in Uttar Pradesh, 161 in Andhra Pradesh, 158 in Telangana, 128 in Karnataka, 104 in Madhya Pradesh, 95 in Gujarat, 75 in Jammu & Kashmir, 63 in West Bengal, 53 in Punjab, 49 in Haryana, 29 in Bihar, 24 in Assam, 18 in Chandigarh, 16 in Uttarakhand, 14 in Ladakh, 10 in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, nine in Chhattisgarh, six each in Himachal Pradesh and Goa, five each in Odisha and Puducherry, two each in Jharkand and Manipur and one each in Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.

Meanwhile, there continued to be serious concern about the religious congregation that was held under the aegis of the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) in the national capital in mid-March after some of the participants tested positive for COVID-19 in recent days.

Many of the participants of that event have returned to their homes in different states and, after Telangana reported late on Monday night that six of them had died and several more had tested positive for COVID-19, there is worry that the attendees may have infected many of their contacts.

This is borne out by the sharp rise in the number of cases in states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Telangana and the fact that many of them had attended the Delhi event or had come in close contact with the returnees.

The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said today there were at least 647 confirmed cases of coronavirus which have been found to have links with the Tablighi Jamaat in the last two days.

The states from which these cases of linkage with Tablighi Jamaat congregation have been reported are Andaman & Nicobar, Assam, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, said the Health Ministry.

The Home Ministry has blacklisted at least 960 Tablighi Jamaat-related foreign nationals who were in India on tourist visas. At least 360 people who participated in Tablighi Jamat activity but have gone back to their countries and the Ministry is in the process of blacklisting them as well.

The police in all States have been instructed to take strict action as per the Disaster Management Act and the Foreigners Act against all visa violations.

Several hundred of the participants were staying at the Tablighi Jamaat headquarters here after the lockdown came into effect on March 25 and the authorities earlier this week cleared the complex and screened all of them. Many of them have been sent into quarantine while those who have tested positive for the virus have been hospitalised.

Meanwhile, as the 21-day nationwide lockdown, imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus, entered the tenth day on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a video message to the people, urging them to show solidarity with each other in the fight against the pandemic.

He urged the the 1.3 billion people of India to light candles, lamps or torches for nine minutes from 9 pm on Sunday, April 5, to dispel the "darkness" spread by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

"Friends, amidst the darkness spread by the corona pandemic, we must continuously progress towards light and hope. We must continuously strive to take those of us most affected, our poor brothers and sisters, from disappointment to hope. We must end the darkness and uncertainty emanating from the crisis, by progressing towards light and certainty. We must defeat the deep darkness of the crisis, by spreading the glory of light in all four directions," he said.

This was the third address to the nation by Modi in recent days. On March 19, he had urged people to observe a "People's Curfew" on March 22 as part of social distancing measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus. He had also asked people to ring bells and bang vessels at 5 pm on that day, from the balconies and entrances of their houses, as a token of gratitude to the doctors, paramedical personnel, policemen and all others who were serving the nation in the crisis.

On March 24 night, Modi had, in a televised address, announced the 21-day nationwide lockdown from March 25 to contain the spread of COVID-19.