India sees highest single day rise in coronavirus cases as number rises to 236

Metro services to be closed in Delhi on Sunday; grocery stores witness panic buying

New Delhi, March 20

COVID-19 cases rose to 236 in India after 63 fresh cases were reported in a day, as per the ICMR on Friday while the Union health ministry figure stood at 223, as the governments in the national capital and Maharashtra announced shutdown of public places to contain the spread of coronavirus that has claimed more than 10,000 lives globally.

"A total of 15,404 samples from 14,514 individuals have been tested for SARS-CoV2 as on 20th March 2020 6 PM. A total of 236 individuals have been confirmed positive among suspected cases and contacts of known positive cases," Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) said.

A day after he addressed the nation on coronavirus during which he asked people to remain indoors and only come out if it was extremely necessary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video call with chief ministers and discussed ways to check and prevent the spread of the virus.

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A spike in numbers prompted the states and UTs to reinforce its efforts to contain the spread. While the Maharashtra Chief Minister said all workplaces in major cities, including in country's commercial hub Mumbai and Pune, will remain closed till March 31, the Delhi Chief Minister announced shutting down of all malls in the national capital, but exempted grocery stores and pharmacies in them.

Despite appeals by leaders not to panic and not to hoard items, long lines were seen at grocery stores, pharmacies and outlets selling other essential stuff, throwing the caution of ‘social distancing' to the wind.

Many in public dealing, including traders, responded to Modi's call for a ‘janata curfew' on Sunday, saying they will shut their establishments while a number of people opted for self-isolation as a precaution.

According to sources, no passenger trains will ply from 00:00 hours till 10 pm on Sunday while all suburban train services to be reduced to a bare minimum during 'janata curfew'.

As per the Union health ministry, 223 in 32 foreign nationals, including 17 from Italy, three from the Philippines, two from the UK, one each belonging to Canada, Indonesia and Singapore. The figure also included four deaths reported from Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra so far.

"The total number of active COVID 2019 cases across India stands at 196 so far," the Union health ministry said, adding that 23 others have been cured/discharged/migrated while four have died.

Meanwhile, a 69-year-old Italian tourist who had "recovered" from the novel coronavirus died at a private hospital in Jaipur after suffering a massive cardiac arrest late on Thursday night, SMS Medical College principal Sudhir Bhandari said.

As per ministry data, Delhi has, so far, reported 17 positive cases which included one foreigner, while Uttar Pradesh has recorded 23 cases, including one foreigner.

Maharashtra has 52 cases, including three foreigners, while Kerala has recorded 28 cases which included two foreign nationals.

Karnataka has 15 coronavirus patients. The number of cases in Ladakh rose to 10 and Jammu and Kashmir four. Telangana has reported 17 cases which included nine foreigners. Gujarat has reported five cases so far.

Rajasthan has also reported 17 cases including two foreigners. Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC were also imposed in Rajasthan's Bhilwara district from Friday after a doctor at a private hospital was tested positive for COVID-19.

While Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand and Andhara Pradesh have reported three cases each, there are 17 cases, including 14 foreigners in Haryana.Odisha, West Bengal and Punjab have reported two cases each while Puducherry, Chhattisgarh and Chandigarh have reported one case each.

During the video call, issues such as capacity building of the states and extending training to local health officials were also discussed in the call which was among others attended by chief ministers of Punjab Amrinder Singh, Maharashtra Uddhav Thackeray, Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath, sources said.

The prime minister has been pitching for involvement of people and local authorities to check the spread of the virus.

The Uttarakhand government banned the entry of domestic and foreign tourists into the state till further orders to contain the spread of coronavirus. Uttarakhand is the second state to do so after Sikkim.

With a Punjab woman, who had tested positive for the coronavirus, fleeing from the hospital and subsequently booked for doing so, Union minister G Kishan Reddy urged family members to not resist the government move to test and quarantine people returning from countries battling coronavirus.

Tamil Nadu shuts land border with neighbouring states

The Tamil Nadu Government on Friday said its borders with neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala will be shut till March 31 from tomorrow for road traffic except for transportation of essential commodities.

The government, as part of its measures to prevent spread of coronavirus, said only vehicles carrying essential commodities — milk, petrol, diesel, vegetables, medicines and LPG cylinders — will be allowed into Tamil Nadu and go beyond the state’s boundaries.

Also, ambulances, individuals travelling in light motor vehicles like cars for unavoidable reasons like death, and cargo trucks shall have to and fro access, an official release said. PTI

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