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New Delhi, March 22, 2020
India today reported three more deaths due to coronavirus (COVID-19), taking the total to seven so far, even as the number of confirmed cases of the disease in the country went up by 45 since last night to 360.
The spike in the number of deaths and new cases came as millions of millions of people across the country observed a "Janata Curfew" as part of the measures to contain the spread of the disease.
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.
At 5 pm, people stood at their windows, in their balconies, on the terraces of their buildings or in their compounds to ring bells, bang vessels and sound conch shells to express their gratitude to doctors and other health workers as well as people working in government, at airports, in municipal services and other areas.
The new deaths reported today included 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.
Bihar reported its first death due to coronavirus as did Gujarat. The patient in Patna, Bihar, had returned recently from Qatar and also had kidney-related problems. He was being treated at the AIIMS in Patna, where he died yestereday.
The man who died in Gujarat was 67 and was undergoing treatment in the Surat Civil Hospital since March 18.
The four deaths reported earlier were from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Delhi and Punjab.
Apart from the seven deaths, the total of 360 cases includes 24 people who have been cured and discharged from hospitals, which means there are 329 active cases in the country.
Of the 360 cases, Maharashtra accounts for the highest number with 67, followed by 52 in Kerala, 29 in Delhi, 27 in Uttar Pradesh, 26 in Karnataka, 24 in Rajasthan, 22 in Telangana, 21 each in Haryana and Punjab, 18 in Gujarat, 13 in Ladakh, seven in Tamil Nadu, five in Chandigarh, five in Andhra Pradesh, four each in Jammu & Kashmir and Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, three in Uttarakhand, two each in Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha, and one each in Chhattisgarh and Puducherry.
Of the 360 cases so far, 319 are Indians and 41 are foreigners, the Ministry said.
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.
Delhi and Rajasthan are among the states which have declared complete lockdowns, while some others have declared partial lockdowns.
Many offices have asked their employees to work from home, schools and colleges are closed, 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.
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.