New Delhi, May 2 (PTI) The nationwide tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases was seen approaching 40,000 on Saturday with a record number of new cases getting detected in the last 24 hours, but recoveries from the deadly virus infection also crossed 10,000 while efforts to revive economic activities appeared getting stepped up too.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed ways to reform the agriculture sector and give a boost to marketing of the farm produce during his meetings with top ministers and government officials. Sources said discussions were also held for firming up plans for the second stimulus package for sectors impacted by the nationwide lockdown, which began on March 25 and has been extended till May 17 with some relaxations in the third phase beginning Monday.
Another meeting was held to discuss ways to strengthen the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) amid demands for a relief package for this sector.
The Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das also held meetings with top bankers to review the economic situation and implementation of various measures announced by it to reduce stress in the financial system.
Authorities across states also readied plans for various relaxations scheduled to come into effect from Monday, including opening of more categories of shops and business establishments in areas with limited or zero infection. However, air travel, trains and inter-state road transport will remain shut for the general public.
The armed forces have made elaborate arrangements to conduct aerial fly-pasts, light up ships at sea and shower flower petals on several hospitals across the country on Sunday to express gratitude to lakhs of doctors, paramedics, sanitation staff and other front-line workers engaged in fighting the pandemic.
Also, special trains and buses continued to ply to take lakhs of migrant workers and students to their native places.
These workers have been stranded for over a month in different parts of the country, many of them having been rendered jobless and homeless, due to virtually all economic activities coming to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown, which was first imposed for 21 days, then got extended for a 14-day second phase and now for another two-week-long third phase.
Rating agencies and various other organisations have forecast a major dip in the country’s economic growth rate for the current fiscal, while some estimates even suggest an overall decline in the GDP.
To mitigate hardships faced by the bottom of the pyramid, the government in late March had announced a Rs 1.7 lakh crore stimulus package comprising free foodgrains and cooking gas to poor and cash doles to poor women and elderly. Sources said a second dose of relief measures is expected soon for the poor along with a stimulus package for India Inc.
At least 1,233 people have died due to COVID-19 so far across the country, including 71 deaths in the last 24 hours, the evening update by the Union Health Ministry showed.
The 5 PM update also showed the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rising to 37,776, after a record jump of 2,411 cases in the last 24 hours. However, a total of 10,017 people have recovered, resulting in a recovery rate of 26.52 per cent. Nearly 10 lakh tests are said to have been conducted so far across India.
However, a PTI tally of numbers reported by different states and union territories, as of 11.15 PM, showed that at least 39,705 people have got infected so far across the country, with 1,319 deaths and at least 10,222 recoveries.
Maharashtra alone reported 790 new cases, including 547 in Mumbai, taking the state’s overall tally to 12,296, while its death toll also rose by 36 to 521.
In Gujarat also, 333 more tested positive, including 250 in Ahmedabad, to take the state’s tally to 5,054. The state also reported 26 more deaths, including 20 in Ahmedabad alone, taking the overall toll to 262.
Delhi recorded 384 fresh cases of confirmed infection and three more deaths, taking its tally of positive cases to 4,122 with a death toll of 64, while Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu also reported rising number of cases and deaths, among other states.
Ever since its emergence in China last December, the novel coronavirus has killed nearly 2.4 lakh people worldwide and more than 33.5 lakh have been detected with the infection so far. Of these, more than 10 lakh have recovered too.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is planning to study whether the novel coronavirus strain in India has undergone mutation while spreading within the country over the last two months.
Since Friday evening, deaths have been reported from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, among other places.
In the national capital, 41 people residing in a building in southwest Delhi’s Kapashera area tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday. Separately, one more Delhi Police tested positive in the city.
The number of COVID-19 positive personnel in a Delhi-based battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force, the country’s largest paramilitary, has also risen to 122, officials said.
Delhi has recorded the second largest number of cases after Maharashtra and Gujarat, while the entire city has been declared as a ‘red zone’ and will remain so till May 17, for which very few relaxations would be given even in the third phase of the lockdown.
A day after announcing the relaxations, the Union Home Ministry clarified that barber shops and salons will be allowed to open in green and orange zones, while sale of non-essential items by e-commerce platforms will also be permitted in those areas. Liquor sales would be allowed in some ‘red zone’ areas too, subject to various conditions and the store being a ‘stand-alone’ one outside markets or malls.