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New Delhi, March 22, 2020
India today reported its fifth death due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and nine more confirmed cases since last night, that took the total number of infected persons to 324 so far, even as millions of people across the country observed a "Janata Curfew" to contain the spread of the disease.
Meanwhile, streets in all Indian cities and towns wore a totally deserted look as the country's teeming millions stayed indoors in response to the "People's Curfew" called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for 14 hours from 7 am to 9 pm today to try and prevent transmission of the virus.
The latest death was of a 63-year-old man in Mumbai, who died in a private hospital late last night, making him the second COVID-19 victim in Maharashtra.
He had been admitted to the hospital on March 19 with chronic diabetes and high blood pressure. Late on Saturday, he developed severe breathing problems and succumbed around 11 p.m., an IANS report said.
On March 17, the state's first victim, a 63-year-old man with history of travel to Dubai, had died due to coronavirus.
India's other coronavirus deaths included a man in Kalburgi, Karnataka; a woman in Delhi; and a man in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district in Punjab -- all senior citizens who also had other medical issues. Of the three, the two men had travelled abroad to COVID-affected countries while the woman had come in contact with an infected person -- her son.
Figures put out by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare this morning, on the basis of information received from the States and Union Territories, showed that of the total of 324 cases so far, Maharashtra accounted for the most with 63, followed by 52 in Kerala, 27 in Delhi, 25 in Uttar Pradesh, 24 in Rajasthan, 21 in Telangana, 20 in Karnataka, 17 in Haryana, 14 in Gujarat, 13 each in Ladakh and Punjab, six in Tamil Nadu, five in Chandigarh, four each in Jammu & Kashmir and Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
Apart from the five deaths, the total of 324 includes 23 patients who have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals since late January, which means there are 295 active cases in the country.
Of the 324, 283 are Indians and 41 are foreigners.
Of the 24 persons who have recovered since late January, five are in Delhi, three each are in Kerala and Rajasthan; nine in Uttar Pradesh; two in Karnataka and one each in Tamil Nadu and Telangana. Of them, one foreign national has returned to his country.
As the number of new cases continues to rise, a sense of urgency has come in and the Central Government, the State Governments, local bodies, corporates and other organisations have taken a slew of measures to prevent the spread of the virus through social distancing and other means.
Many offices have asked their employees to work from home, schools and colleges are closed in many parts, cinemas, shopping malls and other such places where people gather have been shut down, and cultural and sporting events have been cancelled.
The Government has advised senior citizens and children below ten years of age to remain indoors and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a broadcast to the nation last night, urged people, except those performing essential services, to stay at home for the next few days as far as possible.
He also urged people to observe a "Janata Curfew" (People's Curfew) from 7 am to 9 pm on Sunday, and there was a hint that more such measures would be needed in the coming days and weeks.
International flights to India have been banned from from tomorrow and, within India, the Government has announced various disincentives for travel by railways and airlines. States have also been advised to minimise travel by buses and other means of public transport.
Rajasthan on Saturday night announced a total lockdown across the entire state till March 31, with Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot ordering that everything, except essential services, shall remain shut during this period.
All government and private offices, shops, shopping malls, factories and public transport shall remain under lockdown, he said.