26 Indian Navy personnel test positive (Photo Credit: File Photo)
At least 26 Indian Navy personnel have tested positive for coronavirus, in the first major case of COVID-19 outbreak in country's armed forces, even as the Centre asserted Saturday that 30 percent of all cases in the country are linked to the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi.
As the country completed 25 days of the nationwide lockdown on Saturday, with 15 more days to go till May 3, Union Home Minister Amit Shah reviewed the situation across India, including taking stock of the supply of essential commodities even as state governments continued to take steps to mitigate the hardships arising due to the shutdown.
Amidst spiralling numbers of coronavirus cases in India with 14,792 confirmed infections and 488 deaths on Saturday, Union health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said positive trend has been noted in 47 districts across 23 states and UTs, and also there are 22 new districts in 12 states that have not reported any fresh cases during the last 14 days. All these are the 170 hotspot and 207 non-hotspot districts identified by the government.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal also said there has been a "slight decrease" in the number of COVID-19 cases in the national capital in the last three days, but appealed to people living in containment areas to follow rules and don't step out of their homes as he noted that 26 members of one family tested positive for coronavirus in an area in Jahangir Puri, declared as containment area.
At a daily media briefing about the COVID-19 situation in the country, Agarwal said, "a total of 4,291 COVID-19 cases or 29.8 per cent of the 14,378 coronavirus infections reported till Saturday morning are linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation." Most of the Tabligihi Jamaat event-related cases have been found in states with high burden of the disease, such as Tamil Nadu (84 per cent), Telengana (79 per cent), Delhi (63 per cent), Uttar Pradesh (59 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (61 per cent), he said, adding some states which have reported fewer COVID-19 infections, also had cases with links to the Nizamuddin event.
The only coronavirus case reported in Arunachal Pradesh till now is related to the Nizamuddin event. Similarly, 32 of the 35 cases reported in Assam and 10 out of 12 cases from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are linked to the same congregation, he said.
"The reason I drew your attention to this event is to highlight that even if one person does not follow the guidelines of social distancing and the lockdown, the entire country has to suffer the consequences," Agarwal said.
The outbreak of coronavirus at a key naval shore-based facility in Mumbai where 26 sailors have tested positive for the virus may also impact the overall growth rate of cases in the country as sources indicated that the numbers are likely to go up.
The incident is a wake-up call for stricter implementation of all laid down norms to insulate around 15 lakh armed forces personnel from the pandemic, military officials said.
All the three forces have already enforced a "no movement" policy under which almost all their bases have been put under total lockdown barring the wings handling key operational matters and strategic surveillance, they said, adding the top brass in the defence ministry is reviewing the overall preparedness of the armed forces to deal with the pandemic.
While the union health ministry placed the total number of coronavirus cases in the country at 14,792 and the death toll at 488 in its Saturday evening update, according to a PTI tally based on figures from states, the total number of cases was 14,848 with 2,067 recovered while the death toll crossed the 500-mark.
According to Agarwal, the mortality rate due to COVID-19 in the country was around 3.3 percent, while the recovery rate stood at 13.85 percent with 1,992 people cured of the total tally of 14,378 cases.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government decided to pay Rs 2,000 each to over 12 lakh registered construction workers in the state who have lost their livelihoods due to the ongoing coronavirus lockdown, the Uttar Pradesh sent buses to get back students stranded in Rajasthan's Kota area.
Nearly 3,000 students stranded in Kota due to the ongoing lockdown left for their home in 100 buses sent by the UP government but another 7,000 were waiting for their turn in the Rajasthan city on Saturday.