COVID-19 cases in India soar to 606; Modi likens lockdown to ‘Mahabharata war’


Slum dwellers mostly without face masks sit idle say hunger will kill them not coronavirus, as they are not earning a penny for the last four days, as a nationwide lockdown continues after the coronavirus outbreak on March 25, 2020 in New Delhi, India.  (Photo by Yawar Nazir/Getty Images)
Slum dwellers mostly without face masks sit idle say hunger will kill them not coronavirus, as they are not earning a penny for the last four days, as a nationwide lockdown continues after the coronavirus outbreak on March 25, 2020 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Yawar Nazir/Getty Images)

THE number of novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 606 on Wednesday (25) with 10 deaths being recorded across the country, a health ministry official said.

The number of active cases is 553.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi warned of tough action against those misbehaving with people on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus like doctors and airline crew, and sought the cooperation of citizens with the administration to deal with the crisis.

Modi chose a video interaction with residents of Varanasi, the constituency he represents in Parliament, to respond to several queries related to the pandemic and his government’s response to it, and asserted that focusing on a few incidents of shortcomings will not help at this hour.

“The difficulties being faced are only for 21 days. But if the coronavirus crisis is not over and its spread is not stopped, then we cannot imagine the harm it will cause,” Modi said.

“The war of Mahabharata was won in 18 days and our effort is to win this war against the coronavirus in 21 days,” he added.

Indian health minister Harsh Vardhan chaired a Group of Ministers meeting to assess the situation in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

While assuring that the government is making efforts to ensure personal protective equipment (PPE) and N-95 masks are available in adequate numbers to help the medical fraternity in their job, health ministry officials said 29 private laboratories with over 16,000 sample collection centres have been registered so far for testing of COVID-19.

“PPEs and masks have some imported components. There are disruptions with respect to import of certain items. The government is trying to address the issue,” the official said.

According to officials, the ministry of home affairs is monitoring the lockdown through a control room.

The health ministry in its updated figures on Wednesday morning, stated the second death reported in Delhi was COVID-19 negative, thus bringing down the death toll to nine in India.

When quizzed about this, the official said, “Second reconfirmatory test of Delhi patient who died on Tuesday, came negative and so we reduced the death toll.”

Tamil Nadu in southern India reported its first death du to coronavirus on Wednesday.