India reports 7,466 COVID-19 cases, 175 deaths in 24 hours; Jan-March GDP figures paint a gloomy picture ahead

FP Staff

The number of COVID-19 cases in India climbed to 1,65,799 while toll reached 4,706 with the country registering over 7,000 new cases. According to the health ministry, India registered 175 deaths and a record 7,466 fresh coronavirus infection cases in the last 24 hours till Friday 8 am.

The number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 89,987, while 71,105 people have recovered so far and one patient has migrated, data from the ministry showed.

"Thus, around 42.89 percent patients have recovered so far," a senior Health Ministry official said.

However, a PTI tally of figures announced by states and Union Territories, as of 9.40 pm showed a higher number of 1,68,386 confirmed cases and the nationwide death toll of 4,784. It also showed at least 81,702 recoveries, leaving nearly 82,000 active cases across the country.

Though the increase in recoveries is a positive news for the country fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic, official data showed India's GDP growth tumbling to 3.1 percent in the March quarter €" the slowest pace since the global financial crisis more than a decade back.

But expert warned that the worst is yet to come as the full impact of the lockdown will get accounted for only in the numbers for the ongoing April-June quarter. As another key data, the combined output of eight core infrastructure sectors, showed a decline by a record 38.1 percent in April.

"In view of nationwide lockdown during April 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic, various industries - coal, cement, steel, natural gas, refinery, crude oil, etc, experienced substantial loss of production," the Commerce and Industry Ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, a senior government official told PTI that states may have more say in the fifth phase of lockdown (startingfrom 1 June) on imposing restrictions or giving relaxations, including on decisions to open schools, resume public transport, as well as open religious places, which have been shut since 25 March.

The central government may, however, advise state authorities to continue with strict curbs in COVID-19 containment zones in the worst-affected 30 municipal areas that account for 80 per cent of the positive cases in the country.

These 30 municipal areas are from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Odisha.

The central government may also continue with the suspension on operation of international flights and political gatherings as well as closure of malls and cinema halls, besides ordering mandatory wearing of face mask by people in public places and maintenance of social distancing norms everywhere, according to PTI.

Cases from states

According to the health ministry data updated in the morning, the highest number of confirmed cases in the country are from Maharashtra at 59,546 followed by Tamil Nadu at 19,372, Delhi at 16,281, Gujarat at 15,562, Rajasthan at 8,067, Madhya Pradesh at 7,453 and Uttar Pradesh at 7,170.

Of the total deaths, Maharashtra tops the tally with 1,982 deaths followed by Gujarat with 960 deaths, Madhya Pradesh with 321, Delhi with 316, West Bengal with 295, Uttar Pradesh with 197, Rajasthan with 180, Tamil Nadu with 145, Telangana with 67 and Andhra Pradesh with 59 deaths.

However, these figures do not reflect the cases confirmed by states on Friday.

Delhi reported 1,106 new cases to take its tally to over 17,000, while its toll rose to 398, though the Arvind Kejriwal government in the National Capital appealed to the people not to panic.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Friday, "My Delhiites do not worry if you contract corona. Most of you can be treated in home quarantine itself. Still, if you need to be admitted to hospital, we have full preparations for it. I pray to the god for your good health and happiness."

"Corona patients who have no or mild symptoms can recover at their home. They need not get admitted to hospital," he said.

As many as 11 healthcare workers, including two resident doctors, also tested positive at the country's premier medical institution AIIMS in the national capital, taking the total number of hospital staff infected so far to 206. However, more than 150 healthcare personnel have recovered and have joined back duties.

In the national capital, a Rajya Sabha Secretariat official also tested positive, making it the fourth such case reported from the Parliament complex. Two floors of the Parliament Annexe building have been sealed, officials said.

Doordarshan News has also shifted its operations from Mandi House to its studio in Khelgaon after samples of a  53-year-old video journalist, who had passed away, came positive after his death.

In Kerala, 62 new cases were reported and the toll rose to eight after a 65-year-old who had returned from West Asia succumbed to the virus. Those testing positive included a health worker, two cabin crew of Air India and two prisoners also, taking the infection count in the state to 1,150.

Maharashtra, the worst-hit state, recorded 2,682 new cases and 116 deaths on Friday, it also saw 8,381 COVID-19 patients getting discharged from hospitals across the state.

In Gujarat, the number of confirmed cases grew to 15,944 after 372 new cases were detected in the last 24 hours, while 20 patients succumbed to the infection to take the state's death toll to 980,

In Tamil Nadu, nine more people succumbed to COVID-19, while its tally of confirmed cases saw a spike of 874 cases.

Odisha reported 63 new cases, of which 61 had recently returned to the state from various parts of the country and were in different quarantine centres. Two persons were detected with the infection following contact-tracing exercises.

A minister in West Bengal has also tested positive for COVID-19, a source in the state government said.

In Kolkata, a Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel posted at a warship manufacturing facility succumbed to the novel coronavirus. This was the fourth COVID-19 death in the force and the second from the unit posted at this Kolkata-based PSU.

While 41 CISF personnel from this unit have tested positive so far, 38 of them have been discharged and only one is under treatment at present, sources said.

In Kolkata, at least four healthcare workers at a hospital and 10 police personnel also tested positive.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, in the meantime, announced a slew of relaxations from the lockdown from 1 June, including for restarting of private and public sector offices with full attendance and reopening of religious places.

Government offices in Uttarakhand, including the state secretariat and the Vidhan Sabha, will also revert to normal working hours from 1 June, a state government order said.

Uttarakhand reported a record number of 216 new cases, while West Bengal recorded 277 fresh cases and seven more deaths.

Elsewhere, New Zealand has all but eradicated the coronavirus with just one person in the nation of 5 million known to be infected, said The Associated Press. But developments were grim in Pakistan and Russia, which registered a record number of deaths.

In the first major increase since it started gradually reopening on 11 May, France reported more than 3,000 new daily virus infections. It was not immediately clear if the spike was due to a greater availability of testing.

Authorities in Singapore said Friday that city-state is planning to establish "travel bubbles" with countries where coronavirus is under control, even as it reported 611 new COVID-19 cases, a majority of them foreign workers living in dormitories.

Singapore's tally of infections now stands at 33,860 and majority of them are foreign workers holding work permit and residing in the dormitories, the Health Ministry said.

Meanwhile, South Africa said that it has a backlog of nearly 100,000 unprocessed tests for the coronavirus, a striking example of the painful shortage of testing kits and reagents across Africa as cases steadily rise.

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 58 lakh people and killed about 3.6 lakh, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

With inputs from agencies

Also See: COVID-19 Impact: GDP growth dips to 3.1% in Jan-Mar quarter, slowest growth in 8 years; economy grows at 4.2% in FY20

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