Coronavirus (COVID-19): While the lockdown is still continuing, the number of new cases, as well as the number of deaths being reported every day, has been steadily rising for the last few days. On Saturday, over 2500 new cases were reported for the first time, while the number of deaths was at least 93.
By the end of Saturday, India had just a little below 40,000 cases, while the death figures had crossed 1300.
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There were no new surprises on Saturday, and the numbers simply reinforced the trend that we have been witnessing for a few days now. The bulk of new cases, as well as deaths, are being reported from the top five or seven states, while the others contributing very modest numbers.
Maharashtra and Gujarat both reported the highest number of deaths on any single day. While there were 37 deaths in Maharashtra, Gujarat counted 26 dead.
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In the south, Tamil Nadu has been seeing a rapid rise in its case numbers in recent days. On Saturday, it added 231 new cases, its biggest single-day jump, to reach a tally of 2757, the highest among the five southern states. On four previous days, it had increased its numbers by 121, 104, 161 and 203. The state now has the fifth-highest caseload in the country, after Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, and Madhya Pradesh. In the southern region at least, Tamil Nadu remains an outlier, as the other four states are growing their numbers at a considerably slower rate.
On Saturday, Delhi’s total caseload crossed 4000 after an unusually high daily increase of 384 cases, while Gujarat’s numbers went over 5000.
The infection amongst pilgrims returning from Nanded in Maharashtra has seen a sudden surge in the numbers for Punjab. On Saturday, 187 new cases were detected in the state, of which 142 were those who had returned from Nanded. Over 3500 Sikh pilgrims have returned from Nanded in the last few days, of which 242 have so far been found to be infected.
Maharashtra PWD minister Ashok Chavan, who represents Nanded district in the state assembly, said that it was possible that some of the drivers of the vehicles who ferried the pilgrims from Maharashtra to Punjab might have been responsible for spreading the infection. He said the pilgrims had been transported in 78 buses, each of which had two drivers. But on Saturday, at least 20 sewadars of the Gurudwara Langar Sahib in Nanded, where the stranded pilgrims from Punjab had stayed during the lockdown, also tested positive for novel Coronavirus.
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Meanwhile, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh directed his officials to rapidly scale up testing facilities in the state, to at least 6000 every day. Punjab has been carrying out 1500 to 2000 tests every day right now.
(*State government has said it was not counting 72 deaths of Coronavirus positive patients, because an expert committee had ascertained that they could be attributed to other pre-existing illnesses. State government now providing only daily number of deaths, and not the total number.)