606 cases in India as 21-day lockdown begins

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 11, 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 6.45 pm 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. 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.

India enters 21-day lockdown:

Anxious people made a beeline for grocery stores on Wednesday as the 21-day national lockdown kicked in from midnight shortly after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced this unprecedented measure as the only way out to break the coronavirus transmission chain.

Prime Minister Modi in a nationwide broadcast on Tuesday night asserted in an emotional appeal “with folded hands” that unless India’s 130 crore people practice social distancing, the country will lose the war against coronavirus outbreak and slide back 21 years. Amid reports of panic purchase of essential commodities, the Union Home Ministry asked state governments to check the spread of rumours about shortage of food items.

In a communication to chief secretaries and DGPs of all states, the ministry asked them to take action to allay apprehensions and maintain peace and tranquillity, and inform people about the availability of food, medicine and other essential commodities. According to reports from states, roads wore a deserted look but people resorted to panic buying at several markets in violation of the advice for social distancing. Despite a complete ban on large gatherings, people in some parts of Kolkata were seen jostling in markets to buy essential commodities for the next few days.

People were also seen queuing outside gas agencies to buy additional LPG cylinders.

In Delhi, several Mother Dairy outlets and local grocery shops witnessed queues to buy essential food items. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said authorities will ensure essential services during the lockdown period and requested people not to panic.

“We will issue e-passes to vegetable-sellers, grocers among others to ensure essential supplies during the lockdown,” Kejriwal said at a joint press conference with Lt Governor Anil Baijal, amid reports of alleged harassment of vegetable sellers by the police.

“We will ensure strict implementation of lockdown in Delhi,” Baijal said.

Union Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said the government is monitoring the availability of essential commodities in the market.

Paswan warned manufacturers and traders against profiteering during the lockdown period. The Centre is also in touch with the state governments to ensure there is no shortage of essential commodities, he said.

Mahabharata war lasted 18 days, this war will take 21 days: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said he was very pained by the misbehaviour of some people against doctors, airlines crew and staff of essential services who are at the forefront of combating coronavirus.

He also asserted that the deadly virus does not differentiate between the rich and the poor asked people to be at home and practice social distancing. Addressing people of his parliamentary constituency of Varanasi via video, he said the Mahabharata war was won in 18 days but this war against coronavirus will take 21 days. He was referring to the 21 day nation-wide lockdown announced by him on Tuesday.