Migrant workers in large numbers seen at the Anand Vihar bus terminal close to Delhi's border with Uttar Pradesh on Day 5 of the 21-day countrywide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, on March 29, 2020.
Migrant workers in large numbers seen at the Anand Vihar bus terminal close to Delhi's border with Uttar Pradesh on Day 5 of the 21-day countrywide lockdown imposed to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, on March 29, 2020. |IANS

India reports five more COVID-19 deaths, 227 new cases

By Sonny Abraham/NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, March 30, 2020

India today reported five more deaths due to coronavirus (COVID-19), taking the toll to 32, and 227 new cases of infection in the past 24 hours, raising the total to 1251.

Of the total 32 deaths so far, Maharashtra has reported the highest number at eight, followed by six in Gujarat, three each in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, two each in Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir, and one each in Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal, figures put out by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare this evening showed.

The total number of 1251 cases includes the 32 deaths and 102 patients who have been cured and discharged from hospitals, which meant there were 1,117 active cases of the virus in the country as of this morning. The total includes 49 foreigners.

The 1251 cases include 202 in Kerala, followed by 198 in Maharashtra, 87 in Delhi, 83 in Karnataka, 82 in Uttar Pradesh, 71 in Telangana, 69 in Gujarat, 67 in Tamil Nadu, 59 in Rajasthan, 48 in Jammu and Kashmir, 47 in Madhya Pradesh, 38 in Punjab, 36 in Haryana, 23 in Andhra Pradesh, 22 in West Bengal, 15 in Bihar, 13 in Ladakh, nine in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, eight in Chandigarh, seven each in Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, five in Goa, three each Himachal Pradesh and Odisha, and one each in Manipur, Mizoram and Puducherry. The remaining 46 cases were being assigned to states to initiate contact tracing, the Ministry said.

Meanwhile, as thousands of migrant workers continued their efforts to return to their home towns and villages from their places of work, especially in the big cities, the Centre on Sunday directed the States to ensure that there is no movement of people across cities or on the highways.

After reports of large-scale exodus of migrant workers from places such as Delhi to their homes in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh, the Cabinet Secretary and the Union Home Secretary held video conferences with the Chief Secretaries and Directors-General of Police of all States.

"It was noted that, by and large, there has been effective Implementation of guidelines across all states and UTs. Essential supplies have also been maintained. Situation is being monitored round the clock and necessary measures are being taken as required," an official press release said.

"However, there has been movement of migrant workers in some parts of the country. Directions were issued that district and state borders should be effectively sealed. States were directed to ensure there is no movement of people across cities or on highways. Only movement of goods should be allowed. DMs and SPs should be made personally responsible for implementation of these directions which have been issued under the Disaster Management Act.

"It has been advised that adequate arrangements for food and shelter of poor and needy people including migrant laborers be made at the place of their work. Centre had yesterday issued orders for use of SDRF funds for this purpose. Sufficient funds are available with States in this head," the release said.

States have been also told to ensure timely payment of wages to labourers at their place of work during the period of lockdown without any cut. House Rent should not be demanded from the labourers for this period. Action should be taken against those who are asking labourers or students to vacate the premises, the release said.

"Those who have violated the lockdown and traveled during the period of lockdown will be subject to minimum 14 days of quarantine in government quarantine facilities. Detailed instructions on monitoring of such persons during quarantine have been issued to States.

"It was impressed upon all the States that three weeks of strict enforcement is essential to contain spread of corona virus. This is in the interest of everyone," the release added.

Despite these orders, large numbers of migrant workers continued to get into buses or trucks or just march on foot to travel to their homes. Several of them, on reaching their villages, found to their consternation that they were not allowed to enter unless they went into quarantine first.

The workers had decided to leave for home because the 21-day lockdown imposed from March 25, and the resultant closure of thousands of small and big businesses, has left them without jobs and without money to pay rent or buy food.

Many of those trudging on the highways were accompanied by their families, including women, young children and aged parents.

Meanwhile, the Central and State Governments, which have their hands full with the task of staving off the pandemic, now have an equally big challenge in handling the exodus of the workers and also ensuring that they do not become carriers of the virus.

In Uttar Pradesh, orders have been issued to quarantine for two weeks the nearly one lakh workers who have returned to the state in recent days.

The outbreak which began in December in China, where it has claimed 3,304 lives, has spread to more than 200 countries, territories and areas around the world and claimed more than 33,000 lives worldwide so far.