Number of COVID-19 positive cases in India rises to 223; Country sees biggest jump in a day

The number of COVID-19 positive cases in the country has risen to 223, including 32 foreign nationals, it was revealed on Friday. At least 50 fresh cases were reported on Friday, making it the largest single-day jump since the outbreak began weeks ago.
At least four deaths have been linked to the virus. On Friday evening the Health Ministry urged people to follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a “janata” curfew on Sunday, saying “a day’s cooperation will help break the chain of transmission”. The ministry also said people could call on 1075 – a toll free number – if they had questions about the outbreak. In a televised address on Thursday night, the Prime Minister called for a “janata” (public) curfew from 7 am to 9 pm. The centre has shut borders to international flights and suspended incoming visas, while states have closed public spaces and asked people to work from home.
In Friday’s press briefing Health Ministry officials said there was no shortage of essential goods and urged people not to panic. Senior ministry official Lav Agarwal also said people had been advised to stay away from large religious gatherings and such festivals had been requested to be postponed. The ministry’s comment came hours after a Ram festival in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya was “suspended”.
The Health Ministry also responded to concerns over suspected COVID-19 patients jumping quarantine and spreading the infection. “States have the power to take action against those who jump quarantine. We have asked states to implement all such steps. We are dealing with a very infectious disease,” Agarwal said.
India is still only testing at 10 per cent of its capacity, Dr Raman Gangakedhkar of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) said in the briefing. Medical experts have expressed worry over the low rate of testing in the country, suggesting mass-level aggressive testing, like that by South Korea, could be key to containing the virus. On Wednesday the ICMR said private labs could be roped in to increase testing facilities.
India is still in Stage 2 of the outbreak, as per the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR). This means transmission is via local means – through individuals who have travelled abroad or their family members or acquaintances, which can be traced. Stage 3 involves community transmission and an exponential growth in the number of cases.