The total number of COVID-19 cases in India has crossed 24,000. It is 24,434. The death toll is more than 780. More than 5,000 people have recovered.
Across the world, total number of confirmed cases has reached 2,766,611. The death toll is now 194,456. The total number of recovered people is 760,047.
The rate of doubling of COVID-19 cases in India has reduced because of the lockdown, said Niti Aayog member and head of a Central panel on the pandemic, according to the Chairman of Empowered Group Dr. V.K. Paul. The cases are now doubling in 10 days, compared to five days during the first week of lockdown, and three days before the lockdown was imposed.
Until March 29, the doubling rate stayed at about five, but after April 6, it went down to 10 days. This is the effect of lockdown, Dr. Paul said, referring to a graph maintained by independent researchers.
If the lockdown had not been implemented, the number of coronavirus cases would have soared to more than a lakh, instead of the current 23,000 cases, Dr. Paul added. Pointing out that the centrepiece of India’s strategy against COVID-19 was close surveillance, he said 9.45 lakh suspected cases were under watch and upon detection of symptoms, samples were being taken for testing.
But there are places in the country where situations are serious. Major hotspots or emerging hotspots are Ahmedabad and Surat (Gujarat), Thane (Maharashtra), Hyderabad (Telangana), and Chennai (Tamil Nadu). After taking stock of the situation in West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, ministry of Home Affairs have hence formed five more teams to inspect the hotspots in the states of Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. One more district, Thane in Maharashtra, has been put under observation.
At least nine Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel, who had recently visited Delhi for some urgent official work, tested positive for the virus, an official from the South Eastern Railway (SER) said on Friday.
According to the official, the personnel were part of a 28-member RPF contingent from the Kharagpur division of SER, which had returned on April 14 from the national capital with a consignment of arms and ammunition aboard a parcel express train.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Abhijit Banerjee said in an interview to the BBC that India has not “done anything close to enough” to support its poor during the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that the pandemic was a “double whammy”, as it made the poor lose their earning capacity just when the economy was facing a demand slump.
His remarks concern the Centre’s welfare package of around Rs.1.7 lakh crore – equivalent to 0.8% of GDP – to provide extra food grain and cash support to vulnerable sections of the population. Relief packages rolled out by other countries such as the U.S., Canada, Spain and Germany amount to a much higher percentage of their GDP.
Earlier he suggested that India should print money to fund the expansion of the relief package so that people have cash to spend when the supply of goods and services return to a semblance of normalcy. While a fear of inflation might be holding the government back, this was the best way to bridge the income gap, he said. Ensuring the poor have adequate cash would lift the “mood for demand” after the lockdown ends, added the economist, known for his advocacy of universal basic income.
Meanwhile, the US President Donald Trump peddled dangerous cure for coronavirus.
In an eye-popping moment, Trump claimed that sunlight and the festering humidity of high summer could kill the virus.
He also asked, aides on camera whether zapping patients with light or injecting disinfectant into the lungs to clean sick patients from inside could cure them of the disease.
Meanwhile, in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, Muslims around the world began marking Ramzan. It is the holiest month, in which the Muslims fast during daylight hours, congregate for prayers and share meals as a community.
But this time it is different. Mosques are closed and people are asked to pray taraweeh from home, instead of mosques, to limit the spread of deadly virus.
But history tells us, in the past too, Muslims have adapted to change because of epidemics and wars.