New Delhi: Fighting the COVID-19 crisis on a war footing, the government Monday reported 92 new confirmed cases of infection and at least four deaths across India but maintained it was still in the local transmission stage. The Supreme Court, however, cautioned that fear and panic are becoming a bigger problem than the coronavirus.
The government also said there was no immediate plan to extend the 21-day lockdown period, which entered its sixth day Monday, while the Indian Army dismissed as ‘fake’ social media posts about a possible emergency declaration next month.
Interacting with organisations involved in social work via video conferencing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked them to counter misinformation and superstition on coronavirus as he observed that people have been flouting social distancing norms in the name of belief.
As fresh cases of coronavirus cases were reported from various parts of the country including in Rajasthan, Haryana, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, including in Noida in the national capital region, the Delhi Police cordoned off a major area in Nizamuddin where several people showed symptoms of coronavirus after taking part in a religious gathering a few days ago.
However, some good news came in the latest update from the Union Health Ministry which said the COVID-19 is still in local transmission stage in India and it took 12 days for cases of infection to rise from 100 to 1,000 at a rate of increase slower than some of the developed countries.
Addressing the daily press briefing on the actions taken, preparedness and updates on COVID-19, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Lav Agarwal said 92 new cases and four deaths due to coronavirus have been reported in India since Sunday, taking total cases to 1,071 and the number of deaths to 29.
“It took 12 days for cases to rise from 100 to 1,000 in our country, whereas seven other developed nations having lesser population than us have seen multiple increases,” Agarwal said, while asserting that there has been no community transmission as yet.
Agarwal attributed the slow pace of rise in cases in India to people’s participation in strictly following the social distancing guidelines and the collective preemptive actions taken by the Centre in tandem with state governments.
The worldwide tally of deaths has crossed 34,600, with more than 25,000 people dying in Europe. Globally, more than 7,28,000 people have been detected positive so far, out of which nearly 1,42,300 have recovered, as per various reports.
The government however, had to clarify that there was no immediate plan to extend the 21-day lockdown amid fears that shutdown of businesses across the country to counter the spread of the virus may trigger severe economic and social distress.
The Supreme Court also stepped in amid a crisis created by thousands of migrant workers trying to return to their native places after being rendered jobless and homeless due to the lockdown.
The apex court observed that the panic and fear are becoming a ‘bigger problem than coronavirus’, and sought a status report from the Centre by Tuesday on the measures taken to prevent the exodus.
Separately, the government told all its departments to pay high priority to public grievances related to coronavirus.
The Railway Board told its zonal units to be ready to convert up to 20,000 train coaches into isolation wards for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Steps have also been initiated for releasing thousands of prisoners in overcrowded jails across the country on interim bail or parole in an unprecedented step to prevent the spread of coronavirus and also to avoid any clashes.
Among new cases, 16 new coronavirus positive cases were reported in Uttar Pradesh, taking the total tally in the state to 88. Of this, 14 have fully recovered and been discharged, while the national capital’s adjoining Gautam Buddh Nagar district alone has reported 36 cases, officials said.