People being provided with hand sanitisers at a supermarket during the complete lockdown for 21 days imposed by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19 in India, in New Delhi on March 25 2020.
People being provided with hand sanitisers at a supermarket during the complete lockdown for 21 days imposed by the government to contain the spread of COVID-19 in India, in New Delhi on March 25 2020. |(ANS

India reports one more COVID-19 death, 30 new cases of infection

By Sonny Abraham/NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, March 27, 2020

India today reported one more death due to coronavirus (COVID-19), taking the toll to 17, and 30 new cases of infection since last night, raising the total to 724, even as the 21-day nationwide lockdown clamped since Wednesday to contain the spread of the global pandemic entered the third day.

Of the 17 deaths, Maharashtra accounted for four, followed by three in Gujarat, two in Karnataka and one each in Bihar, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.

Apart from the 17 deaths, the total number of cases includes 67 patients who have been discharged from hospitals, which means there are 640 active cases of coronavirus in the country as of this morning, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said.

The total of 724 cases includes 677 Indians and 47 foreigners, the Ministry said in details posted on its website.

Of the 724 cases, Kerala accounted for the highest number with 137, followed by 130 in Maharashtra, 55 in Karnataka, 45 in Telangana, 43 in Gujarat, 41 each in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, 36 in Delhi, 33 in Punjab, 30 in Haryana, 29 in Tamil Nadu, 20 in Madhya Pradesh, 13 each in Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, 12 in Andhra Pradesh, ten in West Bengal, seven in Chandigarh, six each in Bihar and Chhattisgarh, five in Uttarakhand, three each in Himachal Pradesh and Goa, two in Odisha, and one each in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Manipur, Mizoram and Puducherry.

Meanwhile, a complete lockdown for 21 days in the entire country which began on Wednesday as part of the efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic, entered its third day today.

The outbreak which began in December in China, where it has claimed 3,287 lives, has spread to 199 countries, territories and areas around the world and claimed more than 21,000 lives worldwide so far.

People in different parts of the country faced some difficulties in getting supplies of food items, including vegetables. The government is making efforts to ensure that such items are available through the home delivery systems of e-commerce marketplaces.

As a result of the lockdown across the country, most cities and towns across India continue to wear 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.

All flights into and from India as well as all domestic flights are banned. All train services, suburban rail services, metro rail services and bus services in the entire country have come to a halt. All states have sealed their borders with neighbouring states.

Many migrant workers who are forced to return home because of loss of work are now walking the long distances to their villages in states like Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the absence of any other means of transport. Several of them are accompanied by their families.

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 and colleges are offering learning-from-home options for their students.

Overall, there is a sense of urgency 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. Many newspapers are trying to hold on to their readers by popularising their e-papers and websites.

With it becoming increasingly clear that the crisis could severely affect the poorer and more vulnerable sections of society, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman yesterday announced a Rs. 1.70 lakh crore relief package under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana for the poor to help them tide over the difficulties.

As part of the package, 80 crore poor people will get 5 kg of wheat or rice and 1 kg of preferred pulses for free every month for the next three months, while there will be an insurance cover of Rs 50 lakh per health worker fighting COVID-19.

She also announced at a press conference here that 20 crore women Jan Dhan account holders will get Rs 500 per month for next three months, an increase in MNREGA wage to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182 to benefit 13.62 crore families, and an ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 to 3 crore poor senior citizen, poor widows and poor disabled.

The Government will front-load Rs 2,000 paid to farmers in first week of April under existing PM Kisan Yojana to benefit 8.7 crore farmers.

Sitharaman also said the Central Government has given orders to State Governments to use the Building and Construction Workers Welfare Fund to provide relief to construction workers.