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India's Coronavirus cases surge, death toll reaches 62

Image: An Indian border guard on patrol wearing a mask in Tripura. UNI Photo

India's Coronavirus cases surge, death toll reaches 62

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 03 Apr 2020, 11:12 pm

New Delhi/IBNS: India completed the tenth day of a nationwide 21-day lockdown to curb the spread of Coronavirus as the official death toll touched 62 and the number of positive cases spiked up, partly propelled by a Muslim religious gathering last month that led to a massive hunt to track the participants scattered across the country.

However, US-based John Hopkin University Coronavirus live tracker map and put the number of deaths in India at 72, a significant difference from the government data.

According to both these live trackers, the number of COVID-19 positive cases have crossed 2500-mark in India. The present infected tally is 2567 with 192 recoveries.

Of this, a huge number of 647 people affected have been traced to be among the attendees of Tablighi Jamaat at Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz, which has emerged as a new hotspot of Coronavirus spread in the country.

The day was also marked by a much-derided video address by Prime Minister Narendra Modi where he asked people to switch off lights at their homes, stand at the doorsteps or balconies and light candles or switch on mobile flashlights for nine minutes to stand united as a nation.

Unlike his previous appeals, Modi's address this time sparked a flurry of criticism with the Opposition accusing him of promoting superstition and his critics on social media booing his idea at a time the health workers need protective gears and testing kits to fight the contagion.

960 foreign nationals on tourist visa blacklisted for attending Tablighi Jamaat:

Taking a strong note of the flagrant violations of the tourist visa conditions, the government banned 960 foreign nationals from 41 countries, including the US, who were present in Tablighi Jamaat at Delhi's Nizamuddin Markaz,  a Hindustan Times report said.

As many as 960 foreign nationals, who were blacklisted, were from Indonesia (379), Bangladesh (110), Kyrgyzstan (77), Myanmar (63) and Thailand (65). Several Jamaatis came to attend the congregation from as far as Djibouti in East Africa and Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean Islands in North America, have also been banned, the HT report added.

In a statement on Thursday night, the Home Ministry said that 960 foreigners had been blacklisted for flouting tourist visa norms and taking part in activities of Tablighi Jamaat.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry in a statement confirmed that the 647 coronavirus cases reported in the last two days emanated from the Tablighi Jamaat.

The infected Jamaatis had travelled to their native states after the congregation and are present in the 14 states across in India.

At a time the idea of social distancing was embraced both by the Centre and the state governments, Tablighi Jamaat, an "orthodox" missionary, congregated around 3,000 people at Alami Markaz Banglewali Masjid in Nizamuddin here flouting all norms of self-isolation.

Reports suggest around 2000-3000 preachers had congregated at the event of Tablighi Jamaat preachers in mid-March, just days after the Delhi government had banned the gatherings of 200 people at any place in the wake of the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus.

PM Modi's video message:

In his video message to the nation, Indian PM Narendra Modi on Friday asked people to switch off lights in their homes at 9 pm on Sunday and light up candles, clay lamps, torch or mobile flashlights for nine minutes to show their solidarity at a time when the country is under a 21-day lockdown to fight against COVID-19 outbreak.

Modi had addressed the nation twice in recent times.

In his first address, he had asked people to follow Janata Curfew on Mar 22 and then announced 21-day lockdown in his next.

"To defeat the darkness of despair and light our lives with hope, let's switch off all lights for 9 minutes at 9 pm on Sunday 5 April & illuminate our surroundings with candles, Diyas, Torch or Mobile flashlights. Let's maintain social distancing during this period," he said.

He asserted that people should not gather on roads and maintain social distancing during that period.

Congress reaction:

The country's oldest political outfit, Congress, has accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of promoting "superstition" by appealing to people to light candles in the midst of the COVID-19 spread in India, triggering a fresh war of words between the ruling dispensation and the main opposition party.

Following Modi's announcement, which was speculated by plenty of people to be something big, Congress leader and former Union Minister Kapil Sibal tweeted, "Modiji Learnt nothing about government’s steps to 1) contain the virus 2) protect our medical practitioners 3) provide testing kits 4) reach food and supplies to the poor 5) finance migrant labour, the jobless Light the ‘ Diya ‘ of reason Not that of superstition !"

Not finding much substance in the Prime Minister's 9 am video message on Friday, Congress Lok Sabha MP from Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor, tweeted, "Listened to the Pradhan Showman. Nothing about how to ease people’s pain, their burdens, their financial anxieties. No vision of the future or sharing the issues he is weighing in deciding about the post-lockdown. Just a feel-good moment curated by India’s Photo-Op PrimeMinister!"


India's Coronavirus cases surge, death toll reaches 62

India Blooms News Service
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