The toll in the coronavirus epidemic in India rose to 10 on Wednesday, and the total number of infections increased to 606, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Of these, 553 patients are still undergoing treatment.
Globally, over 4.41 lakh people have been infected by the disease, and over 19,700 have died, according to an estimate by the Johns Hopkins University.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown starting midnight. The number of people under lockdown worldwide increased to three billion on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the toll in Spain crossed that in China, with 3,434 deaths as compared to 3,163. It is now second only to Italy.
On Wednesday, Modi addressed his home constituency of Varanasi via video conferencing. He said that the fight against the pandemic is a war that Indians will fight for 21 days and emerge victorious. Modi said the 130 crore people of India will play the role that Krishna played in the Hindu epic Mahabharata, guiding the Pandavas to victory in war.
“Today, the entire country is fighting a war against Coronavirus...Mahabharata was won in 18 days but the war against coronavirus will take 21 days,” Modi said. Modi reiterated his advice for people to follow the lockdown orders and stay indoors to fight against Covid-19.
Modi chaired a Cabinet meeting to discuss strategies of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. In the meeting, senior ministers were seen sitting at a distance from each other, to follow social distancing norms.
Meanwhile, establishments selling essential commodities, such as groceries and milk, adopted innovative ways of practicing social distancing on the first day of the lockdown. Shopkeepers demarcated boundaries by drawing squares and circles in white paint for people to wait. Each circle was spaced at a distance from the other and individuals were seen standing inside their mark.
E-commerce firm Flipkart and online grocery delivery companies Grofer and Bigbasket partially resumed services after assurance from authorities. In the morning, reports had come in of law and order authorities stopping deliveries of goods by e-commerce and online retail firms. However, the Delhi Police said in the evening that they had held a meeting with representatives of e-commerce firms.
The government postponed the first phase of the Census and National Population Register exercise in light of the pandemic. The exercises were scheduled to take place between April 1 and September 30.
Congress leader P Chidambaram asked the people, who he called the “foot soldiers” to support “Modi the commander”. Chidambaram suggested a 10-point plan to ensure that vulnerable groups do not miss out on food and money during the lockdown.
A report said that over 2,000 daily wage workers and migrant labourers in Gujarat travelled on foot for several hours to reach Rajasthan’s Bichhiwara tehsil on Tuesday and early Wednesday. Men, women and children began their journey from several parts of Ahmedabad between 7 pm and 9 pm to reach Rajasthan’s Dungarpur village, the nearest border, after which they received some assistance from the administration.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray assured the public that the state has adequate inventory of essential commodities, and appealed to people to not step out of their homes during the lockdown. “I appeal to employers not to cut wages of their workers or stop their services,” Thackeray added. Covid-19 has infected 128 people in the state so far, and killed three.
The Kerala government closed all outlets of its state-run liquor corporation BEVCO. Despite the lockdown in the state and police presence, people had continued to line up outside the outlets, sparking fears about the spread of Covid-19 infection. Kerala has 109 coronavirus cases so far, of whom four have recovered.
The Delhi Police arrested a man for allegedly spitting at a woman from Manipur, and calling her “corona”. The accused was identified as Gaurav Vohra, a resident of Model Town locality.
Domestic benchmark indices rallied nearly 7% to log their biggest single-day gain since 2009, after crashing on Tuesday. The markets shook off concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, buoyed by hopes of receiving an economic stimulus package.
Meanwhile, chef Floyd Cardoz, who tested positive for Covid-19, died of the infection in a hospital in New Jersey on Wednesday. He was the co-owner of two popular restaurants in Mumbai – the Bombay Canteen and O Pedro. He had recently launched his third venture, the Bombay Sweet Shop.