The New Delhi Railway Station bears a deserted look amid restrictions imposed in the wake of increasing cases of coronavirus, on March 21, 2020.
The New Delhi Railway Station bears a deserted look amid restrictions imposed in the wake of increasing cases of coronavirus, on March 21, 2020. |IANS

India reports fifth coronavirus death as total cases go up to 341

By Sonny Abraham/NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, March 22, 2020

India today reported its fifth death due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and 26 more confirmed cases since last night, that took the total number of infected persons to 341, so far even as millions of people across the country observed a "Janata Curfew" as part of the measures 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.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said the number of cases that had tested positive for coronavirus in the country had gone up to 341.

"Total number of confirmed cases so far in the country as on 22 March 2020 at 02.30 PM including foreign nationals is 341," the Ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise details were awaited.

Earlier, in the morning the Ministry had, on the basis of information received from the States and Union Territories, put the total number of cases at 324, with Maharashtra accounting 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 included 24 patients who have recovered and been discharged from hospitals since late January, which means there were 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.

In a major decision, the Indian Railways today cancelled all passenger trains in the country, including suburban rail services, till midnight on March 31. Goods trains will, however, be exempted.

Similarly, the Government has also decided to close down metro rail services on all operational networks across the country till March 31.

At a meeting with Chief Secretaries of all States to review the situation, chaired by the Cabinet Secretary, it was also decided that Inter State passenger transport will also be suspended till the end of this month.

The Centre has advised State Governments to issue appropriate orders to allow only essential services to operate in the 75 districts which have reported confirmed cases or casualties relating to COVID 19. The State Governments may expand the list depending on their assessment of the situation. It was noted that several State Governments have already issued orders in this regard, an official press release said.

All the Chief Secretaries informed the meetinng that there was an overwhelming and spontaneous response to the call for "Janata Curfew" given by the Prime Minister.

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 airlines have reduced services.

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.