People buying essential items at a general store in Nagaon, Assam, during the complete lockdown imposed in the country as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus, on March 24, 2020.
People buying essential items at a general store in Nagaon, Assam, during the complete lockdown imposed in the country as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the coronavirus, on March 24, 2020. |IANS

India reports 43 new cases, taking total to 562

By Sonny Abraham/NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, March 24, 2020

India today reported 43 new cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) since last night, taking the total number of persons infected by the disease across the country to 562 so far even as the country of 1.3 billion people began an unprecedented 21-day nationwide lockdown in an effort to contain the spread of the global pandemic.

The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare also revised the number of deaths downwards to nine from ten it reported last night, saying that one death reported in Delhi had turned out to be COVID-19 negative.

The nine deaths reported by the Ministry include two in Maharashtra, and one each in Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar.

The Tamil Nadu government reported the death of a coronavirus patient in Madurai this morning, but this does not reflect in the details put out put the Union Health Ministry yet.

The new cases reported since last night included 14 in Kerala, 13 in Maharashtra, four in Karnataka, three each in Jammu and Kashmir and Tamil Nadu, two in Uttar Pradesh, and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Mizoram and Uttarakhand.

The total number of 562 cases includes the nine deaths as well as 41 patients who have been cured and discharged from hospitals, which means there are 512 active cases of coronavirus in the country as of this morning.

The number includes 519 Indians and 43 foreigners.

Of the 562 cases, Kerala accounted for the highest with 109, followed by 101 in Maharashtra, 41 in Karnataka, 35 each in Telangana and Uttar Pradesh, 33 in Gujarat, 32 in Rajasthan, 31 in Delhi, 29 in Punjab, 28 in Haryana, 18 in Tamil Nadu, 13 in Ladakh, nine each in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, seven each in Chandigarh and Jammu & Kashmir, four in Uttarakhand, three each in Bihar and Himachal Pradesh, two in Odisha and one each in Chhattisgarh, Manipur, Mizoram and Puducherry.

Meanwhile, a complete lockdown for 21 days in the entire country began at midnight last night in a bid to contain the spread of the global pandemic, which has claimed more than 16,300 lives across the globe so far.

Soon after the announcement of the lockdown by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a televised address to the nation last night, there were scenes of panic buying of essential items at shops in many cities of the country, including Delhi and Mumbai.

Large numbers of people swarmed outside groceries, chemists and ATMs to stock up for the next few days, ignoring for the time being all the social distancing norms prescribed by the Government and medical experts.

As a result of the lockdown across the country, most cities and towns across India wore a deserted look, with hardly any traffic on the roads. In many places, the police were filing complaints against violators of the restrictions and even wielding the stick and using other harsh measures against some of them.

International flights into India were banned some days ago and all domestic flights have been grounded from midnight last night.

Train services, suburban railways, metro services and bus services across the country have been cancelled. All states have also sealed their borders with neighbouring states.

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

Schools and colleges, cinemas and shopping malls have been closed for many days now and all offices -- government, public sector and private sector -- are also now closed, except for those employees required to maintain essential services.

Most offices have told their employees to work from home and many schools are offering learning-from-home options for their students.

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

The Government has strictly 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.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced some relief measures related to compliance matters and banks yesterday.