India witnesses surge of 591 cases in 24 hours, total positive cases stand at 5,865
New Delhi/IBNS: India recorded fresh 591 positive Novel Coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours taking the tally across the country to close to 6,000, informed the Union Health Ministry on Thursday.
The Ministry said 5,865 people have been infected across the country with Maharashtra suffering the most with 1,135 cases followed by the southern state of Tamil Nadu (738) and Delhi (669).
While 478 people have been cured, 169 COVID-19 patients have lost their lives so far in the country.
Health Ministry's Joint Secretary Lav Aggarwal said the Indian Railways are converting 5,000 coaches into isolation units to make 80,000 isolation beds.
The Health Ministry's bulletin came amid the growing possibility of an extension of the ongoing 21-day unprecedented lockdown which was called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Mar 24 with an aim to stem the spread of the pandemic.
After at least six states appealed to the Centre to extend the lockdown, Odisha on Thursday set Apr 30 as the due date for the lifting of the shutdown in the eastern state of India.
The lockdown which was called by the Prime Minister is scheduled to end on Apr 14 midnight.
Announcing the lockdown, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said as quoted by media, "During ongoing lockdown period amid Covid-19 crisis, your discipline and sacrifice has provided us the strength to fight Covid-19."
"At this crucial juncture, one has to decide between protecting the lives of people and economic activity. We will recommend to Government of India to extend the national lockdown up to April 30. In addition to this, we will also request the Union Government not to start airline and railway services till April 30," a government statement has said.
The state government has said activities related to agriculture, animal husbandry and MGNREGS will be conducted during the lockdown period following the social distancing norms.
All educational institutions in the state will remain shut till Jun 17.
Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of Odisha's neighbouring state West Bengal, has also hinted at the continuation of the lockdown despite the strains in the economic sector of her state.
Holding a meeting with the representatives of the business community, Banerjee at state headquarters Nabanna said, "Lockdown can't be stopped now because the COVID-19 cases are increasing. The coming few weeks are crucial. Nothing is more important than people's lives. Despite a lot of problems, we have to bear it."
"We will support any decision which will be taken by the central government on lockdown," she said much being arrested in a Catch-22.
Despite a total decline in economic output, the Uttar Pradesh government had ordered a complete shutdown in 15 districts of the state till Apr 13.
The 15 districts are Lucknow, Agra, Ghaziabad, Gautambudh Nagar (Noida), Kanpur, Varanasi, Shamli, Meerut, Bareilly, Bulandshahar, Firozabad, Maharajganj, Sitapur, Saharanpur and Basti.
Though the Centre was not keen to extend the 21-day lockdown which began on Mar 25, at least six states have urged the union government to increase the lockdown period to save people's lives amid the COVID-19 threat.
Maintaining suspense, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called a meeting with all the Chief Ministers on Saturday to take a call on the extension of the lockdown.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao earlier said he was in favour of the extension of the lockdown to save the lives.
"We can recover from the economic problem. But, we cannot get back lost lives," Rao had told media.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, "We can bear the lockdown. We can also revive economy but we cannot get back the lost lives."
Rajasthan, Punjab are also among the states which have favoured the extension of the shut down that has impacted hard on daily wagers and migrant workers.
(Image Credit: UNI and Unsplash)