People waiting in a queue to buy vegetables and fruits in their residential colony which has been sealed as one of the hotspots for COVID-19 cases, in Noida on April 11, 2020.
People waiting in a queue to buy vegetables and fruits in their residential colony which has been sealed as one of the hotspots for COVID-19 cases, in Noida on April 11, 2020. |IANS

India reports 31 more COVID-19 deaths, 918 new cases

By Sonny Abraham/NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, April 12, 2020

India today reported 31 more deaths due to coronavirus (COVID-19), raising the toll to 273, and 918 new cases of infection in the past 24 hours, taking the total number to 8,447 so far, even as the Government continued to weigh its options on easing or extending the 21-day nationwide lockdown that will end on April 14.

Figures released by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare this evening showed that the 31 new deaths included 17 in Maharashtra, five in Delhi, three each in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, two in Tamil Nadu and one in Uttar Pradesh.

Of the total of 273 deaths so far, Maharashtra accounted for the highest number at 127, followed by 36 in Madhya Pradesh, 22 in Gujarat, 19 in Delhi, 11 in Punjab, ten in Tamil Nadu, nine in Telangana, six each in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, five each in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, four in Jammu & Kashmir, three each in Haryana and Rajasthan, two in Kerala, and one each in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha.

The total number of 8,447 cases includes the 273 deaths and 765 patients who have been cured. This means that the number of active cases stood at 7,409 as of this evening.

Of the total of 8,447 cases, Maharashtra accounted for the highest at 1,761, followed 1,069 in Delhi, 969 in Tamil Nadu, 700 in Rajasthan, 564 in Madhya Pradesh, 504 in Telangana, 452 in Uttar Pradesh, 432 in Gujarat, 381 in Andhra Pradesh, 374 in Kerala, 226 in Karnataka, 224 in Jammu & Kashmir, 185 in Haryana, 151 in Punjab, 134 in West Bengal, 64 in Bihar, 54 in Odisha, 35 in Uttarakhand, 32 in Himachal Pradesh, 29 in Assam, 25 in Chhattisgarh, 19 in Chandigarh, 17 in Jharkhand, 15 in Ladakh, 11 in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, seven each in Goa and Puducherry, two each in Manipur and Tripura and one each in Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.

Meanwhile, all indications were that the Government will extend the three-week nationwide lockdown, that was imposed on March 25 to contain the spread of the pandemic, by two weeks, with or without some relaxations in some areas.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video conference with the Chief Ministers of all States yesterday to consider various options in this regard and several of the participants felt that the lockdown should be extended till the end of this month in order to flatten the curfew.

The 21-day lockdown, imposed to contain the spread of the virus, will end on April 14 unless it is extended.

Meanwhile, various state governments have started announcing containment measures such as complete sealing of localities which had been identified as "hotspots" of coronavirus infections.

The Delhi government, for instance, announced on Wednesday that it has sealed several coronavirus hotspots across the city and all movements in these areas are completely barred.

In Uttar Pradesh, the state government on Wednesday decided to seal hotspots of COVID-19 infection in 15 districts. As soon as the announcement was made, large numbers of people in places like Noida and Ghaziabad came out to stock up on food articles, medicines and other essential items.

Some states have made wearing of face masks compulsory for people when they step out of their homes for any reason.

The Odisha Government on Thursday extended the lockdown in the state till the end of April and urged the Centre to do likewise. Punjab announced on Friday that it was extending the lockdown in the state till May 1. Two other states -- West Bengal and Maharashtra -- have also decided on Saturday in favour of a two-week extension.

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said today that, to augment capacity for COVID-19 testing in all Government and private medical colleges of the country on an urgent basis, it has been directed to distribute the responsibility evenly across various institutions of eminence all across the country.

These institutions are expected to serve as mentors of the medical colleges in their allotted area and facilitate the establishment of COVID-19 testing facilities in the respective States. All these institutions have been directed to work in close coordination with the respective State Governments.

Government is also focussing on increasing the capacity of primary medical infrastructure which includes dedicated hospitals, isolation beds, ICU beds, and quarantine facilities. As of today, while the requirement of beds for is estimated to be about 1700 (20% of confirmed cases with moderate and severe/critical clinical symptoms), the present availability of beds is 1,05,980 in 601 dedicated COVID-19 hospitals across the country. The number of isolation beds in dedicated hospitals across the country is being further augmented.

Dedicated hospitals for management of COVID-19 patients have increasingly been set up across the country. Along with Government hospitals, various private sector hospitals, public sector units, military hospitals and Indian Railways are contributing in these efforts. Ordnance Factory Board has manufactured specialized tents to augment medical infrastructure in remote areas.

As part of the preparedness efforts, training of health staff is also an area of focus through the institutes of national importance like AIIMS, NIMHANS. Online training modules and webinars for ventilator management, clinical management, infection prevention control, bio-medical waste management, and epidemiology have been organized by these institutions. To prepare the frontline medical workers, mock drills too have been organized, the Ministry added.