New Delhi: The nationwide tally of confirmed Covid-19 cases crossed 2,300 with at least 73 deaths on Thursday. With a huge congregation of Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area emerging as the biggest hotspot of the coronovirus outbreak, authorities said nearly 9,000 people — members of the Jamaat and their primary contacts — were identified and quarantined across the country.
This includes, 1,306 foreigners who are associated with the Jamaat. The figures announced by various States, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Delhi, showed more than 400 positive cases getting detected on Thursday itself — taking the total to 2,360. At least 14 more deaths were reported too during the day.
A majority of the new cases were linked to the congregation, officials said. Earlier on Thursday, the Union Home Ministry said the consolidated nationwide tally of confirmed cases of infection stood at 1,965. It said 328 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 12 new deaths were reported since Wednesday. In the total tally, about 400 Covid-19 positive cases were found whose epidemiological linkage could be traced to the Tablighi Jamaat cluster, said the Union Health Ministry, which asserted there was no evidence to widespread community transmission and 20 existing and 22 potential hotspots were identified across the country.
A Home Ministry official said the Centre had written to all States and Union Territories that “the lockdown measures should be implemented in letter and spirit”.
In the meantime, sporadic attacks on doctors, social workers and police personnel also came to the fore raising concerns over their safety and prompting warnings by authorities. Seven persons were arrested for the alleged attack on health workers in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore city, who had gone there to quarantine relatives and acquaintances of a Covid-19 patient but were attacked with stones by an unruly mob leaving two women doctors injured. A video of the attack went viral on social media.
Authorities also continued to take action against those violating the lockdown, which entered its ninth day on Thursday. Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to all Chief Secretaries of the States and Union Territories to act against those violating the lockdown or making false claims under the Indian Penal Code and the Disaster Management Act. Bhalla said those violating these laws could be punished with jail term of up to two years and fine. However, hopes of the lockdown getting removed, at least partially, after its 21-day period rose further after Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said airlines were free to allow ticket booking for flights after April 14. He also said resumption of international flights would be considered on a case-by-case basis, depending on which countries they were coming from, after the 21-day lockdown ends. Separately, Air India also said it had got approvals from Indian and Chinese authorities to operate cargo flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong to get medical supplies. At the same time, several States, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala, reported significant rise in the number of positive cases. In Maharashtra, at least 81 more tested positive during the day, taking its tally to 416, while two more patients succumbed to the infection increasing the toll to 19. The death of a Covid-19 patient from Mumbai’s Dharavi, one of the biggest slums in Asia, sparked fear of its spread in the highly congested area.
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