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New Delhi, March 23, 2020
India today reported two more deaths due to coronavirus (COVID-19), taking the toll to nine, and as many as 108 new cases since last night, taking the total number of persons infected by the disease across the country to 468 so far.
The two deaths and the spike in the number of cases -- the highest in a single day since the outbreak erupted some weeks ago -- came even as more states put in place full or partial lockdowns in a bid to contain the spread of the global pandemic that has claimed more than 13,000 lives worldwide.
"Total number of confirmed cases so far in the country as on 23 March 2020 at 08.15 pm, including foreign nationals is 468," the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on its website. State- and district-wise details are awaited, it said.
Apart from the nine deaths, the total also included 35 cases which had been cured and discharged from hospitals, which means there were 424 active cases of the virus in the country as of this evening.
Meanwhile, many cities and towns across India wore a deserted look as total or partial lockdowns have been declared in various states in a bid to contain the spread of the virus by breaking the transmission chain.
Delhi, Rajasthan, Kerala and Telangana are among the states that have ordered a complete lockdown, though essential services are exempted. By evening, more and more states and districts were announcing similar measures.
Yesterday, all of India observed a "People's Curfew" and stayed indoors in response to a call given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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 on Sunday 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 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.
Most 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 week, urged people, except those performing essential services, to stay at home.
International flights to India have alreay been banned, a ban on domestic flights will come into effect from midnight tomorrow.
States have also been advised to minimise travel by buses and other means of public transport.