COVID-19: Nationwide tally crosses 60k; Fresh outbreaks abroad raise concerns over lockdown easing

The nationwide tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases crossed 60,000 on Saturday and the death toll neared the 2,000 mark after more people tested positive for the deadly virus infection across states, while worries mounted globally about re-emergence of the outbreak after reopening of locked down economies.
The Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the testing capacity for COVID-19 has been ramped up to around 95,000 tests per day and a total of over 15 lakh tests have been conducted so far across hundreds of government and private labs.
But a large number of cases continued to get detected in several states and union territories, barring Kerala and a few smaller states including in North-East that reported nil or single-digit fresh cases.
In its daily update, the Union Health Ministry said the COVID-19 death toll has risen to 1,981 and the number of cases has climbed to 59,662, registering an increase of 95 deaths and 3,320 cases in 24 hours till Saturday morning.
The number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 39,834, while 17,846 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, it said.
However, a PTI tally of numbers reported by different states and UTs, as of 6.45 PM, showed at least 60,266 confirmed cases across the country. This showed an increase of nearly 4,000 confirmed cases since Friday morning.
On Saturday, fresh cases were reported from Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Bihar and Assam, among other places.
Globally, nearly 40 lakh people have tested positive for the deadly virus since its emergence in China last December, while approximately 2.75 lakh people have lost their lives. However, nearly 13 lakh people have recovered too, including nearly 2 lakh in the US and over 1.4 lakh in Germany.
Germany and South Korea are among those countries that have been seen as having successfully avoided large number of deaths by their extensive testing and contact tracing measures. But, worries mounted on Saturday about fresh outbreaks in both the countries following various lockdown relaxations, thus raising the risks associated with reopening of economies.
In India also some relaxations have been given from the nationwide lockdown, which has been in place since March 25 and is scheduled to end on May 17 as of now.
The Goa government may allow holding of music classes and reopening of some state-run libraries in a phased manner on the condition of maintaining strict social distancing norms, the state’s Art and Culture Minister Govind Gawade said on Saturday.
Goa is classified as a green zone with no coronavirus positive case as of now.
Special trains and buses are also being run to help lakhs of migrant workers reach their native places, while special flights are bringing back Indians stranded abroad.
But the ongoing lockdown is also estimated to have hit the economic hard with several experts forecasting zero to very low GDP growth for the current fiscal, while a few have even forecast a decline in the GDP if the lockdown restrictions continue longer.
While fuel prices have already been hiked, an industry body of real estate developers said cement and steel rates have increased by 40-50 per cent in the last few weeks and alleged price cartelisation and unfair trade practices by their manufacturers.
Some industrial establishments have begun opening their facilities as per the available relaxations. Among other companies, Hyundai Motor India said its Chennai-based manufacturing facility rolled out 200 cars on the first day of resuming production on Friday.
Tamil Nadu reported four more deaths during the day, taking its death toll to 44, while 526 more people tested positive for the virus to take its tally to over 6,500.
In the national capital also, 224 new COVID-19 cases were recorded to take its tally to 6,542.
In Delhi, there was also confusion over the death toll as the data from the four hospitals showed more fatalities than the number reported by the Delhi government. Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendar Jain said there is no reason to hide anything and not a single case will go unaccounted for, but gave no explanation for the discrepancy.
There has been a mismatch in the numbers of West Bengal also for several days with the state government’s figures being lower than that of the Union Health Ministry.
On the outskirts of the national capital, Noida reported its second COVID-19 death while its total cases rose to 216. The overall figure for Uttar Pradesh also rose.
Rajasthan recorded 76 more cases, while 36 new cases were detected in Karnataka too.
In Bihar, five Bihar Military Police (BMP) personnel tested positive, taking the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 579. In Assam, a dental college student’s test came positive.
The Union Health Ministry has also revised its policy for discharge of COVID-19 patients under which only those developing severe illness or having compromised immunity will have to test negative through RT-PCR test before being discharged by a hospital.
Moderate cases of COVID-19 and pre-symptomatic, mild and very mild cases need not undergo tests before being discharged after resolution of their symptoms.
According to the rules till now, a patient was considered fit to be discharged if he or she tested negative on day 14 and then again in a span of 24 hours.