An overcrowded bus with migrant workers returning home amid COVID-19 outbreak, seen during complete lockdown in the country in a bid to curtail the spread of coronavirus, in Kolkata on March 23, 2020.
An overcrowded bus with migrant workers returning home amid COVID-19 outbreak, seen during complete lockdown in the country in a bid to curtail the spread of coronavirus, in Kolkata on March 23, 2020. |Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS

India reports 24 new coronavirus cases, taking total to 492

By Sonny Abraham/NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, March 24, 2020

India today reported 24 new confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) since last night, taking the total number of persons infected by the disease across the country so far to 492 even as most parts of the country were put under a complete lockdown as part of measures to contain the spread of the global pandemic.

Nine people have so far died of the disease in India, while it has claimed nearly 15,000 lives across the globe.

Of the nine deaths, two were in Maharashtra and one each in Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab, Bihar, Gujarat, West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh.

The total number of 492 cases includes the nine deaths as well as 37 patients who have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals. One of the discharged patients is a foreigner who has since left for his country. This means there were 446 active cases of the virus in the country as of this morning.

Of the total of 492 cases, 451 are Indians and 41 are foreigners.

Of the 492 cases so far, Kerala accounted for the highest with 95, followed by 87 in Maharashtra, 37 in Karnataka, 33 each in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, 32 in Telangana, 31 in Delhi, 29 in Gujarat, 26 in Haryana, 21 in Punjab, 13 in Ladakh, 12 in Tamil Nadu, seven each in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, six in Chandigarh, four in Jammu & Kashmir, three each in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, two each in Bihar and Odisha, and one each in Chhattisgarh and Puducherry.

As the number of infected persons continued to rise, 30 States and Union Territories in the country have imposed a complete lockdown in their entire areas, covering a total of 548 districts.

Official sources said that three States and UTs had imposed a partial lockdown, covering certain areas of their territories, adding up to 58 districts. These states are Uttar Pradesh (16 districts), Madhya Pradesh (37 districts) and Odisha (5 districts and 6 municipal jurisdictions).

Lakshadweep has imposed a partial lockdown in one district, where the movement of ships has been banned and Section 144 of the CrPC has been invoked to gatherings of five or more people.

Two States -- Sikkim (4 districts) and Mizoram (8 districts) -- are yet to issue orders in this regard, the sources said.

As a result of these moves, most cities and towns across India wore a deserted look, with hardly any traffic on the roads.

International flights into India have already been banned, while all domestic flights will stop with effect from midnight tonight.

Train services, suburban railways and metro services across the country have been cancelled and public transport bus services in most states have been curtailed, if not cancelled altogether. In Rajasthan, even private vehicles have been banned.

Essential services have been exempted from the lockdown in all the states.

All states have also sealed their borders with neighbouring states.

Schools and colleges, cinemas and shopping malls have been closed for many days now and most offices -- government, public sector and private sector -- are either shut down or functioning with only skeletal staff as more and more organisations have switched to the "work from home" mode.

Overall, a sense of urgency is creeping in across the country though there continue to instances of people violating the lockdown and ignoring the calls for social distancing.

The Government has advised people, except those providing essential services, to remain indoors for the next few weeks.

Residential colonies in cities have also imposed restrictions on entry of people, including visitors, domestic helps, drivers and so on. Some colonies have temporarily barred the delivery of newspapers.