Addressing people of Varanasi via a video link, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated that social distancing and staying indoors were the only way out and the best option to deal with coronavirus. "Around one lakh people infected with coronavirus are recovering, this also needs to be highlighted," he said. "People should focus on how deadly this virus is. This disease doesn't discriminate between rich and poor," the prime minister said, a day after he announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown to try halt the spread of the coronavirus. The lockdown came into effect from Tuesday midnight.
Coronavirus cases in the country crossed 600 on Wednesday as authorities beefed up preparedness to fight the pandemic with the Army ordnance factories and central paramilitary forces earmarking over 2,000 beds in their chain of hospitals for isolation and treatment of people affected by COVID-19. In addition, the Hamirpur district administration in Himachal Pradesh took over all the ten hostels with 2,000 rooms of the National Institute of Technology (NIT) for creating an isolation centre. A 2,200-bed state-run hospital in Kolkata has stopped admitting new patients who are suffering from other diseases and was discharging patients whose condition had improved as part of efforts to create a dedicated isolation centre.
Nearly 90 more coronavirus positive cases were reported in India taking the total number of cases to 606 on Wednesday while the number of deaths was 10, according to health ministry data. The number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 553 while 43 people have been cured, discharged or migrated. The 606 positive cases includes 43 foreign nationals, the ministry said. On Tuesday, the number of cases was 519. The death toll due to the virus increased to 10 with another death being reported from Maharashtra, according to the data. In its updated figures at 6.45pm on Wednesday, the ministry stated that Maharashtra has reported three deaths and one death each was reported from Bihar, Karnataka, Gujarat, Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh.
The ministry said Maharashtra has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases so far at 128, including three foreign nationals, followed by Kerala which has recorded 109 cases, including eight foreign nationals. Karnataka has reported 41 cases of coronavirus patients, while cases in Gujarat rose to 38, including one foreigner. Cases in Uttar Pradesh rose to 37, including a foreigner.The number of cases in Rajasthan increased to 36, including two foreigners, while the positive cases in Telangana stood at 35, including 10 foreigners. Cases in Delhi rose to 31, including one foreigner. Punjab reported 29 cases while In Haryana, there are 28 cases, including 14 foreigners. Madhya Pradesh recorded 14 cases, Ladakh has 13, while Tamil Nadu has reported 18 cases, including two foreigners. West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh have nine patients each. Chandigarh as well as Jammu and Kashmir have reported seven cases each so far. Uttarakhand has four cases, including one foreigner. Bihar also has four cases. There are three cases in Himachal Pradesh while there are two cases in Odisha. Puducherry, Mizoram, Manipur and Chhattisgarh have reported a case each.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a complete nationwide lockdown for 21 days from Tuesday midnight, asserting in an emotional appeal "with folded hands" that unless India's 130 crore people practise social distancing, the country will lose the war against coronavirus outbreak and slide back 21 years.
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-Inputs from PTI