India’s coronavirus death toll 16, govt says no evidence of community transmission

New Delhi, March 26: Death toll due to coronavirus (COVID-19) rose to 16 in India on Thursday with cases soaring to 694, Union Health Ministry said in its latest update.

The ministry earlier asserted that the rate of increase in the positive cases was “relatively stable” in India.

The Union health ministry officials also said India was at the second stage as there is still no “hard evidence” to say that there has been community transmission of the fast-spreading coronavirus, remarks which may provide anxious citizens much needed assurance and hope.

As the virus kept extending its footprint, the Central and state governments unleashed measures on a war-footing. While the Union finance ministry unveiled a Rs 1.70 lakh crore economic package involving free foodgrain and cooking gas to poor for the next three months, one-time doles to women and poor senior citizens among other benefits, and the health ministry announced that 17 states have started to earmark hospitals for dedicated treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Addressing a media briefing on the COVID-19 situation, health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said “there is still no hard evidence to say there has been community transmission of coronavirus in Indiaā€¯ and assured that the country was geared to tackle the coronavirus challenge.

Though the cases of coronavirus are increasing in India, but “we are realising that the rate at which cases are increasing…seeing relatively a stable trend or little bit reduction in the rate of increase in cases,” he added.

“This, however, does not establish a clear trend. We are hopeful that by following social distancing policy, conducting a proper contact tracing and by ensuring all people at home quarantine are monitored, we will be able to combat the disease,” he said.

India is under a complete lockdown for 21 days since Wednesday, in a desperate measure to contain the spread of the virus. Globally, the death toll from the coronavirus has risen to 21,293 with more than 471,518 cases reported in over 170 countries and territories, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Maharashtra has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases so far at 124, including three foreign nationals, followed by Kerala, where the number of cases has climbed up to 118, including eight foreign nationals, according to the ministry data.

The number of cases in Telangana has gone up to 41, including 10 foreigners.

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