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NOVEL CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK IN INDIA (updated 13th April 2020)

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April 1, 2020 | Number of cases: 1637 | Number of deaths: 38

In the largest increase in a single day so far, India reported over 380 positive cases of COVID-19. The increase is partly due to the identification of the hotspot of Tabligh-e-Jamaat, many of whose attendees in Delhi contracted the virus. The positive cases included 45 attendees of the event in Tamil Nadu and another 48 attendees in Andhra Pradesh. Extensive contact tracing is underway with appeals by various state governments requesting those who attended the gathering to come forward to the local authorities.

Goa is struggling amidst the lockdown to prevent spread of coronavirus, with the availability of essential commodities turning out to be difficult due to the strict orders. The lockdown and movement restriction has made access to essentials and medicines difficult for many, as locals were unable to visit the shops due to restrictions imposed by the police and paramilitary forces.  

With a view to curbing two- and four-wheeler movement on the streets, the Karnataka authorities have begun seizing the vehicles of non-essential services if they violate the lockdown in place. The move came after a large number of people were found to be using their personal vehicles for shopping for essentials or takeout during the lockdown. The orders were issued by the police in order to coerce people into using their local grocery stores and spend limited time on the road. Citizens however point out that in the event that the stores are not in the vicinity or there is non-availability of supplies, they are forced to use the vehicles to procure essentials.

A major cancer hospital in Delhi had to be shut as one of the doctors working there tested positive for COVID-19. The doctor is believed to have contracted the illness from relatives who had returned from the UK. The entire hospital was placed under lockdown and each ward of the Delhi State Cancer Institute had to be sanitised. The doctor in question had failed the isolation guidelines by visiting relatives who had returned from a COVID-19 hotspot in the UK.

Ajit Chak writes from Lucknow:

The decision of the Uttar Pradesh government to transfer Rs 2000 into each Jan Dhan account from Wednesday April 1st, to provide financial relief to migrant labour and factory workers and daily wage earners is causing concern among Lucknow’s banking circles, which fear a rush of customers at banks to withdraw money from their accounts.

According to Dilip Chowhan, General Secretary of the UP Unit of the All India Bank Officers Conference (AIBOC), the district administration has promised that bank branches will get police support in managing the crowd that is expected April 2nd onwards. However, there is a fear that since there are almost 10.45 lakh Jan Dhan accounts in Lucknow’s banks, out of which more than five lakh accounts are active, bank branches all over the city could see a huge rush destroying all norms of social distancing, says Dilip Chowhan.

Each bank branch is likely to be allotted two policemen each, a number totally insufficient, especially given the lack of inexperience of the police constables to handle such situations, to hold back the anticipated crowds or enforce social distancing, feels the bank union leader. A total breakdown of the lockdown is very much a possibility.

While the idea behind the bank transfer is to ensure that the people have money to buy essentials during the lockdown, there is no clarity on how to manage the situation if a large crowd descends on the banks, especially as all bank branches are being manned by a skeletal staff. RBI’s appeal for people to use digital payment is hardly helpful, as the bulk of these account holders are unlikely to have debit cards.

Last updated, April 1st, 5:30 pm

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