India records highest one-day rise of coronavirus cases; PM says COVID-19 fight truly people-driven, cautions against complacency

New Delhi, Apr 26 (PTI) As India recorded the highest one-day rise of 1,975 coronavirus cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said the country’s fight against COVID-19 was truly 'people-driven' and this was the 'only way' to overcome the pandemic with the road ahead expected to figure in his upcoming discussions with chief ministers.

Amid indications that his third round of video interaction with the chief ministers on Monday since the COVID-19 outbreak could also focus on a graded exit from the 40-day lockdown, Modi asked people to shun any complacency that they will not be infected by coronavirus because it has so far not affected the places where they live or work. The lockdown is due to end on May 3.

In his monthly 'Mann ki Baat' broadcast, Modi said the country is in the middle of a 'yudh' (war) and asserted people have to continue being careful and take precautions.

He reiterated his advice to people to maintain a distance of two yards from each other to keep healthy.

“Do gaz doori, bahut hai zaroori(Maintain a distance of two yards and keep yourself healthy).' With the country under a lockdown since March 24 midnight, the prime minister said India's people-driven battle against the pandemic will be discussed when the world community debates the crisis later.

'India's fight against the coronavirus is people-driven in the truest sense of the term. Along with people, government and administration are fighting it as well... This is the only way we can win over the virus,' he said.

In his 30-minute address, Modi also referred to a popular Hindi idiom 'Sawdhani hati, durghatna ghati' (accident happens when caution is lowered) to make his point.

'I urge you not to get overconfident. You should in your over-enthusiasm not think that if the coronavirus has not yet reached your city, village, street or office, it is not going to reach now. Never make such a mistake. The experience of the world tells us a lot in this regard,' he said.

The countrywide COVID-19 death toll rose to 826 with 47 more fatalities being reported while the number of cases climbed to 26,917 on Sunday, according to the Union Health Ministry. A total of 5,914 people (21.96 per cent) have recovered from the infection, it said.

The total number of cases on Sunday went up by 1,975 since the ministry last updated its data on Saturday evening. The previous highest single-day jump of 1,752 was recorded on April 24.

According to a PTI tally based on reports from states, the COVID-19 cases crossed the 27,000 mark to touch 27,451 and the death toll stood at 873.

Union Health minister Harsh Vardhan said the doubling rate of the infection has shown regular improvement and now stands at 10.5 days when seen over a period of three days.

'It is 9.3 days over a period of seven days and 8.1 days over a period of 14 days. These indicators may be taken as positive effects of the lockdown in the country along with the cluster management and containment strategies,' Vardhan was quoted as having said in a health ministry statement.

The mortality rate in COVID-19 patients in India is 3.1 per cent as compared to 7 per cent globally, Vardhan said while asserting the coronavirus situation in the country is improving as many hotspot districts are moving towards becoming non-hotspots.

He further said that as on date, 283 districts have not reported any coronavirus infections so far. There are 736 districts in the country.

Also, 64 districts have not reported any new case in the last seven days while 48 districts did not report any fresh case in the last 14 days. Besides, there was no fresh case in 33 districts in the last 21 days and 18 districts had not reported any new case in the last 28 days, he said in the statement.

At 7,628, the highest number of confirmed cases in the country is from Maharashtra, according to the Union health ministry. Other states where the cases have crossed one thousand are Gujarat (3,071), Delhi (2,625), Rajasthan (2,083), Madhya Pradesh (2,096), Uttar Pradesh (1,843), Tamil Nadu(1,821) and Andhra Pradesh(1,097).

But according to a Maharashtra health department official, the number of COVID-19 cases in the state crossed the 8,000-mark on Sunday after 440 more people--358 from Mumbai alone--were found infected. The state now accounts for 8,068 cases, the official said. On Saturday, it reported a jump of 811 cases, the highest single-day rise in the state.

Hailing states, emergency workers and civil society groups for their contribution in combating the pandemic, Modi in his address said the resolve shown by the people of the country has led to the beginning of a transformation with businesses, offices, educational institutions, medical sector rapidly undergoing new changes.

The prime minister said wearing masks will now become a part of a civilised society and also exhorted people to stop spitting in public places, saying it was high time to get rid of this 'bad habit' once and for all.

This will not only boost our basic hygiene standards but also help in preventing the spread of the coronavirus infection, he added.

Modi also greeted people on Akshaya-Tritiya and noted that the holy month of Ramzan had also begun.

'We should pray more than ever before so that prior to the celebration of Eid the world is rid of the coronavirus and we celebrate Eid with enthusiasm and gaiety like earlier times,' Modi said, urging people to adhere to guidelines of local administration.

The prime minister hoped there may be some good news in the fight against the coronavirus during his next 'Mann ki Baat' episode, usually the last Sunday of every month. The last Sunday next month falls on May 31 and Eid is likely to fall on May 25.

In a pat for authorities and citizens, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said the country has handled this pandemic effectively as government and people responded proactively to this crisis. “We have to be patient and calm....Follow all guidelines and precautions,” he said in his video address to RSS workers from the Sangh headquarters in Nagpur.

Senior BJP leader and Union minister Prakash Javadekar said the prime minister has asked people to remain steadfast in following the coronavirus guidelines and expressed confidence that the nation will follow the path shown by him.

Sources in the union government indicated that besides discussing the way forward in dealing with the pandemic, the prime minister’s discussion wth chief ministers could also focus on a 'graded' exit from the lockdown.

The Centre and the state governments have been giving gradual relaxation in various fields and sectors to boost economic activities as also to provide relief to the people.

But some states like Maharashtra are mulling extending the lockdown beyond May 3 in cities like Mumbai and Pune to ensure that coronavirus cases remain under control.

The Congress said it hopes the prime minister puts out a comprehensive and holistic plan as regards the exit strategy during his discussions with the chief ministers.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said till the time there is no national plan to deal with disasters or pandemics, states cannot formulate plans to deal with issues post-lockdown.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh said that without aggressive testing facilities, India cannot conquer challenges posed by COVID-19.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also urged Modi to clear 'bottlenecks' and ramp up testing.PTI ASG PLB NAB KR SKC JTR PM MR GSN GSN GSN