The number of people infected by coronavirus in India crossed the 600 mark on Wednesday with Maharashtra recording the highest rise of 16 new cases followed by Karnataka with 10 while Mizoram recorded its first positive case.
By the end of Wednesday the count of infected people stood at 606. Two casualties were reported – one each from Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
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There were nine new cases in Kerala , seven in Haryana, six in Madhya Pradesh, five in Delhi, four each in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir, two each in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and one in Uttarakhand.
Despite being the state with the highest number of infections, there was some cheer for Maharastra as a Pune couple – the state’s first coronavirus patients – returned home on Wednesday after 17 days of hospitalisation to a rousing welcome from members of their residential society.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi who addressed the people of his constituency in Varanasi through a video link, reiterated that social distancing and staying indoors were the only way out and the best option to deal with coronavirus.
“People should focus on how deadly this virus is. This disease doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor,” Modi said, a day after he announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown to break the chain of transmission of coronavirus that has affected more than 4.3 lakh people across the world in three months.
Modi underlined the enormity of challenge facing the country. He invoked the Mahabharata, and said the epic war was won in 18 days and his government’s effort is to win the war against coronavirus in 21 days.
“The war of Mahabharata was won in 18 days and our effort is to win this war against the coronavirus in 21 days,” he said.
In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal reiterated his appeal to people to stay at home as part of the nationwide lockdown as five more people tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 pathogen.
In Odisha, the state launched a massive recruitment for thousands of doctors, nurses, paramedics and multipurpose health workers to join the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, while in Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee appealed to NRIs and corporate to donate funds to fight the pandemic.
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Amid the 21-day lockdown, the Union home ministry has indefinitely suspended the exercise to update the NPR and collection of data for Census 2021.
With the lockdown beginning to hit the poor, the Jharkhand government has initiated several welfare measures, including low-price ‘Khichdi’ distribution centres and two months’ ration in advance to beneficiaries of the public distribution system (PDS) to ease the economic burden on them.