Coronavirus cases in India cross 300, restrictions imposed in many states

258 coronavirus cases in India; Maharashtra, Delhi shut down
A man wearing protective mask pushes a shopping cart filled with daily essentials in the wake of coronavirus pandemic outside Kendriya Bhandar in New Delhi, Friday. Photo: PTI

New Delhi: The number of novel coronavirus cases in India crossed the 300-mark on Saturday with several more testing positive as the states went into battle mode to contain the pandemic, announcing partial shutdowns and imposing restrictions on people's movement and gatherings among a slew of precautionary measures.

The country is also set to observe a 'janata curfew' from 7am to 9pm on Sunday after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday pitched for social distancing, asking people, barring those in essential services, not to get out of their homes.

The health ministry said the total number of coronavirus positive cases stood at 283, with 60 fresh cases reported, the highest in a day. However, several states, including Kerala, announced more positive cases after that taking the total to 302.

Maharashtra has reported the highest number of cases at 63, including three foreigners, followed by Kerala at 52, including seven foreign nationals.

Delhi has reported 26 positive cases, which include one foreigner, while Uttar Pradesh has recorded 24 cases, including one foreigner.

Telangana has reported 21 cases, including 11 foreigners. Rajasthan has reported 17 cases, including two foreigners.

In Haryana, there are 17 cases, which include 14 foreigners.

258 coronavirus cases in India; Maharashtra, Delhi shut down
A pedestrian wearing a mask, reads the notice put up on the entrance of a medical outlet during coronavirus pandemic, in Kolkata, Friday. Photo: PTI

Karnataka has 15 coronavirus patients. Punjab and Ladakh have 13 cases each. Gujarat has seven cases while Jammu and Kashmir has four.

Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal have reported three cases each. Odisha has two cases.

Puducherry, Chhattisgarh and Chandigarh have reported one case each.

Tamil Nadu Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar said three foreign nationals under observation have tested positive and the total number of cases has risen to six.

In Gujarat, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the state has 13 coronavirus positive patients, with six new cases reported.

Restrictions imposed

A number of states and union territories announced measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus.

258 coronavirus cases in India; Maharashtra, Delhi shut down
An official uses thermal screening device on Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, in wake of deadly coronavirus outbreak, as he arrives at Raj Bhavan in Mumbai, Friday. Photo: PTI

The Delhi government said the novel coronavirus was causing terrible financial stress to the poor and announced that those receiving ration from fair-price shops would get 50 per cent extra for next month.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal pension for widows, differently-abled and elderly will be doubled for this month.

Urging people to stay indoors, Kejriwal said the government has not imposed a lockdown in Delhi for now, but would have to do it if the need arises in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

The Chhattisgarh government ordered closure of all its offices, except those providing essential and emergency services, till March 31.

In Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced a "near total" shutdown in five districts and eight other prominent towns for a week from Sunday morning.

These districts and towns were identified as over 3,000 residents have returned to these places from abroad in the past few days.

The Goa government imposed section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) across the state to prohibit large gatherings.

258 coronavirus cases in India; Maharashtra, Delhi shut down
Disaster Response Force worker sprays disinfectant as a precaution against a coronavirus outbreak at public places, in Hyderabad, Friday. Photo: PTI

Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said the state government has also issued an order banning inter-state transport, except for the supply of essential commodities, from Saturday night onwards.

Goa shares borders with Maharashtra and Karnataka, where several people have tested positive for coronavirus infection.

Private events, including weddings, have also been banned in Goa till further orders.

The Bihar government ordered shutting down of bus services, restaurants and banquet halls across the state till March 31 while the State Election Commission of Arunachal Pradesh announced that municipal and panchayat elections slated to be held in April-May have been temporarily put on hold.

The Nashik administration in Maharashtra banned the sale of liquor from Saturday till further orders in the district invoking the Epidemic Diseases Act and Disaster Management Act.

The order to close bars, including those located in five star hotels and resorts, and liquor shops was issued by Collector Suraj Mandhare.

The Akola district administration ordered a lockdown between March 22 and 24 during which all establishments except those selling essential items will remain closed.

The move is similar to the sectoral shutdown put in place in Maharashtra's major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Nagpur.

In West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee government ordered all restaurants, bars, pubs, nightclubs, amusement parks, museums and zoos to remain shut till March 31.

The order, which aims to prevent all non-essential social gatherings, comes into effect on Sunday morning. The directive also applies to massage parlours and hookah bars, an official said, adding that strict action would be taken in case of any violation.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration said all its employees with foreign travel history along with their relatives would have to go for quarantine before resuming their duties.

Amid increasing cases of people affected by coronavirus, a couple was de-boarded from a Delhi-bound Rajdhani train after co-passengers noticed a home quarantine seal on the husband's hand. The Railways urged people to avoid non-essential travel for the safety of fellow citizens.

At a press conference, the health ministry said it carried out training for critical care management at 1,000 places through video conference and will conduct nationwide mock drill on Sunday for emergency response to handle coronavirus cases cases.

Health ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said guidelines for coronavirus tests have been revised, directing that asymptomatic direct, high-risk contacts of confirmed cases should be tested once between day 5 and day 14 of coming in contact with an infected person.

UP Health Minister tests negative

In some good news, Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh, who had attended a party with Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor days before she tested positive for coronavirus, tested negative for COVID-19 on Saturday.

The 66-year-old minister had gone into self-isolation after undergoing the testing here on Friday. Samples of 28 people who came in contact with him have also tested negative, King George Medical University spokesperson Dr Sudhir Singh said.

The Uttar Pradesh Police have booked Kapoor for negligence and committing acts that are likely to spread disease dangerous to life. She had attended at least three gatherings in Lucknow, including a party where political leaders were present.

Following Kapoor's announcement, a number of people who came in contact with her directly or indirectly went into self-quarantine. They included BJP leader Vasundhara Raje, her MP son Dushyant Singh and parliamentarians Derek O'Brien and Anupriya Patel.

Former BSP MP Akbar Ahmad Dumpy, whose high profile party in Lucknow was attended by Kapoor, has decided to stay in isolation as a precautionary measure for 14 days at his farmhouse in Utttarakhand, an official said.

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