Pandemic: Cases doubling every 4 days

As many as 472 new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed and 11 more deaths reported in the country, taking the total number of cases to 3,374 and the death toll to 79, the health ministry said on Sunday.

However, a tally of figures reported by states showed at least 106 deaths, while the number of confirmed cases touched 3,624. Of them, 284 have been cured and discharged.

Officials attributed the discrepancy to procedural delays.

Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, said the number of cases in India is doubling every 4.1 days. “But if cases reported due to the Tablighi Jamaat event, had not come, then the doubling rate would have been 7.4 days,” he said.

At least 9,000 people had participated at the congregation at Tablighi Jamaat’s headquarters in Nizamuddin West, Delhi, last month, after which many travelled to various parts of the country for missionary works. So far, more than 400 Covid-19 cases and 15 deaths have been linked to the meet.

Asked about the scarcity of personal protective equipment in several states, Agarwal said, “We have already allocated PPE to states. The allotment is based on the number of cases reported. The procurement procedure has started and we will not face any problem regarding PPE but their usage should be optimised by using them rationally.”

He said the Ministry has discussed this with all health secretaries, chief secretaries and district magistrates.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday contacted top leaders from across the political spectrum, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, to discuss the situation arising out of the coronavirus outbreak.

He also spoke to former presidents Pranab Mukherjee and Pratibha Patil, and former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda, sources said. Details of the discussions were not disclosed.

The PM telephoned the leaders of other political parties as well, including Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, Odisha CM and Biju Janata Dal leader Naveen Patnaik, Telangana CM and Telangana Rashtra Samithi leader K Chandrasekhar Rao, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader MK Stalin and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal.

Modi is scheduled to interact with leaders of various political parties via a video conference on Wednesday. The TMC has said it will not attend this meeting.

Meanwhile, eight Malaysian nationals, who attended the Nizamuddin meet, were caught at the Delhi airport while trying to flee the country through a special flight arranged for stranded travellers. They were barred from boarding the flight as the Centre has directed all state police forces to take action against those foreigners who had come to India on a tourist visa and participated the Tablighi Jamaat congregation. The government has already blacklisted 960 foreigners and cancelled their visa for violating visa conditions.

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