Doctors and municipal workers, accompanied by police personnel, going from door to door to screen people for COVID-19, in Amritsar, Punjab, on April 12, 2020.
Doctors and municipal workers, accompanied by police personnel, going from door to door to screen people for COVID-19, in Amritsar, Punjab, on April 12, 2020. |IANS

India reports 51 more COVID-19 deaths, toll rises to 324

By Sonny Abraham/NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, April 13, 2020

India today reported 51 more deaths due to coronavirus (COVID-19), raising the toll to 324, and 905 new cases of infection in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 9352 so far, even as the Government will make an announcement tomorrow about the extension of the nationwide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the pandemic.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation tomorrow morning when he is likely to announce the government's decision on the extension of the 21-day lockdown, slated to otherwise end at midnight tomorrow, with or without relaxations.

Figures released by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare this evening showed that the 51 new deaths included 22 in Maharashtra, seven each in Madhya Pradesh and Telangana, five in Delhi, four in Gujarat, two in West Bengal, and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Of the total of 324 deaths so far, Maharashtra accounted for the highest number at 149, followed by 43 in Madhya Pradesh, 26 in Gujarat, 24 in Delhi, 16 in Telangana, 11 each in Punjab and Tamil Nadu, seven each in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, six in Karnataka, five in Uttar Pradesh, four in Jammu & Kashmir, three each in Haryana, Kerala and Rajasthan, two in Jharkhand, and one each in Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha.

The total number of 9,352 cases includes the deaths as well as 980 patients who have recovered, which meant that the number of active cases in the country has gone past the 8,000-mark and stood at 8,048 this evening.

Of the total of 9,352 cases, Maharashtra accounted for the highest at 1,985, followed by 1,154 in Delhi, 1,075 in Tamil Nadu, 812 in Rajasthan, 604 in Madhya Pradesh, 562 in Telangana, 539 in Gujarat, 483 in Uttar Pradesh, 432 in Andhra Pradesh, 376 in Kerala, 247 in Karnataka, 245 in Jammu & Kashmir, 185 in Haryana, 167 in Punjab, 152 in West Bengal, 64 in Bihar, 54 in Odisha, 35 in Uttarakhand, 32 in Himachal Pradesh, 31 each in Assam and Chhattisgarh, 21 in Chandigarh, 19 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, Mizoram and Nagaland.

Meanwhile, people across the country are waiting anxiously for the Government's decision on the duration of the lockdown.

Prime Minister Modi held a video conference with the Chief Ministers of all States on Saturday 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 curve.

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.

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.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health said today that it is using cutting-edge technology at all levels for timely response at the district administration level to COVID-19. Live case tracking, case management and implementation of containment plans are also being done through technology. GIS mapping of positive confirmed cases, identification of active interventions areas, use of heat mapping and predictive data analysis are being used for monitoring implementation of containment plans. Such technology aids have been deployed very effectively by the Bengaluru War Room, it said.

The Integrated Command and Control Centres are coordinating with the dedicated Rapid Response Team (RRT) to help facilitate on the field screening, providing ambulances and quarantine management. A few districts have also initiated remote digital medical consultation that connects local medical stores.

The implementation of the action plan has started yielding appreciable results in 25 districts across 15 States which reported cases earlier. These districts have no case reported since the last 14 days and constant vigil is being maintained to ensure that no new cases occur in the future. These districts are Gondia (Maharashtra), Rajnandgaon, Durg, Bilaspur (Chattisgarh), Davangiri, Kodagu, Tumkuru, Udupi (Karnataka), South Goa (Goa), Wayanad and Kottayam (Kerala), West Imphal (Manipur), Rajouri (J&K), Aizawl West (Mizoram), Mahe (Puducherry), SBS Nagar (Punjab), Patna, Nalanda and Munger (Bihar), Pratapgarh (Rajasthan), Panipat, Rohtak, Sirsa (Haryana), Pauri Garhwal (Uttrakhand) and Bhadradari Kothagudem (Telangana).

The Government also said that, as on April 10, under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package more than 30 crore poor people have received financial assistance of Rs 28,256 crore to protect them from the impact of the lockdown due to COVID-19.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked all States to implement the lockdown guidelines in letter and spirit to ensure smooth movement of inter- and intra-state cargo, trucks and workers and functioning of warehouses and cold storage plans.

This follows reports that trucks carrying essential and non-essential goods are being detained in some places; workers needed for operation of manufacturing units of essential goods, and other exempted categories are not getting authorizations/ passes for their movement; inter-State movement of goods and personnel related to above two categories is getting impeded as passes/ authorizations issued by authorities of one State/ UT Government are not being respected by the authorities of other States/ UTs; and operations of cold storage and warehouses are not being allowed.

"Such restrictions, with regard to activities specifically permitted by MHA, have the potential of creating shortages of essential commodities," the MHA said.

The MHA has also written to all States and Union Territories (UTs) asking them to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court's directions on welfare of migrant labourers housed in relief camps.

The court had directed that adequate medical facilities besides proper arrangements for food, clean drinking water and sanitation be ensured for migrant workers at relief camps/shelters across the country. Further, trained counsellors and/ or community group leaders belonging to all faiths should visit the relief camps/ shelter homes and deal with any consternation that the migrants might be going through.

The court had also observed that the anxiety and fear of the migrants should be understood by the police and other authorities, and that they should deal with the migrants in a humane manner. Further, the State Governments/ UTs should endeavour to engage volunteers along with the police to supervise the welfare activities of the migrants.