Udayavni Special

COVID-19: Nationwide tally crosses 26,000; Govt says daily growth rate lowest at 6%

PTI, Apr 26, 2020, 8:11 AM IST

New Delhi: The nationwide tally of coronavirus positive patients crossed 26,000 on Saturday, April 26 with fresh cases getting detected in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and the national capital among other places, but the government said the daily growth rate has dipped to 6 percent and some states began relaxing some lockdown conditions by allowing more shops to open.

At least 56 more deaths have been reported since Friday evening the highest so far in a span of 24 hours to take the death toll across the country to at least 779, according to the Union Health Ministry figures.

However, a PTI tally of figures reported by various states and union territories, till at 10 PM, but the nationwide death toll at 824, and the total number of confirmed cases at 26,194.

In its evening 5 PM update, the Union Health Ministry had said that 24,942 people have tested positive while more than 5,200 have recovered — giving a recovery rate of over 20 percent. It also said the rate of daily growth in new cases has fallen to 6 percent, which is the lowest since the country crossed 100 cases.

While an estimated 5.8 lakh tests have been conducted so far, the government has put on hold the use of rapid test kits procured from two Chinese firms to check their efficacy after some states including Rajasthan reported they were giving inaccurate results.

On a positive note, the Delhi government said that it has seen encouraging results from the plasma therapy trial on more patients. Karnataka also began similar trials on Saturday, while Rajasthan said it was also ready to conduct these trials.

Some states, taking cue from a late Friday night order from the Union Home Ministry, said they are taking steps to open more categories of shops, including those selling garments, mobile phones, hardware, and stationery items.

However, these relaxations would not be allowed for shops located in market places, malls, and COVID-19 hotspots and containment zones. In rural areas, all shops barring those in malls have been allowed to open.

Liquor and cigarette shops would remain closed everywhere irrespective of their location, while the sale of non-essential items through e-commerce platforms continue to remain shut. Restaurants, hair salons, and barbershops will not be allowed to open as these render services and do not fall under the shop category.

The Delhi government said it will implement the Home Ministry order on the opening of shops in the national capital, but Maharashtra ruled out any immediate relaxation saying the lockdown guidelines will remain unchanged in the state till May 3. Gujarat, on the other hand, decided to follow the directive, while Assam said it will make a decision on Monday. Haryana and Nagaland also said they will implement the relaxations.

Amid rising coronavirus cases in the national capital, with 111 new cases during the day taking its tally to 2,625, a top official in the Delhi government’s COVID-19 committee has, however, suggested that the lockdown in the national capital will have to be continued till mid-May for the epidemic curve to flatten.

A nationwide lockdown has been in place since March 25, which was first scheduled to end on April 14, but was extended till May 3 to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to interact with various chief ministers on Monday, April 27, where some clarity is expected on the lockdown and further course of action on the COVID-19 situation. Before that, Modi’s monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio broadcast is scheduled for Sunday.

Maharasthra saw its tally of positive cases rising to 7,628, followed by over 3,000 in Gujarat. Rajasthan has reported more than 2,000 cases, while Madhya Pradesh is also nearing this mark. Madhya Pradesh has crossed 1,900 while Tamil Nadu has more than 1,800 cases and Uttar Pradesh is also nearing that mark.

In Andhra Pradesh, the tally crossed 1,000 and new positive cases included frontline healthcare professionals.

Of the total 779 COVID-19 deaths also, Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of 323 fatalities, followed by Gujarat (133), Madhya Pradesh (99), Delhi (54), Rajasthan (33), Andhra Pradesh (31), Uttar Pradesh (27) and Telangana (25).

Uttar Pradesh, where at least 177 new cases emerged and two more died during the day, has decided to ban all public gatherings till June 30.

West Bengal also reported 38 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking its total to 541. At least 18 people have died in the state, a health department bulletin said.

Special teams sent by the Centre, in the meantime, assessed ground situations in Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Telangana, but a political stand-off continued in West Bengal on this front.

The team visiting West Bengal alleged that non-cooperation on the part of the state government over providing logistical support and other relevant information, while the state’s ruling party Trinamool Congress described it as “India’s Most Callous Team” and accused it of trying to spread the political virus “shamelessly”.

On the political front, Congress President Sonia Gandhi also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking urgent steps to help the MSME sector, including a Rs 1 lakh crore ‘Wage Protection’ package. She said the MSME crisis has the potential of having a devastating and expansive ripple effect on our economy.

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