AGENCIES, New Delhi: As the confirmed COVID-19 cases shot up by 194 in India on Saturday, taking the total count past the 1,000-mark as the country recorded its biggest jump in a 24-hour period, India also witnessed a harrowing day when thousands of migrant workers gathered at Delhi’s Anand Vihar bus stand to get back to their villages. On Saturday morning, the UP government said it had organised 1,000 buses and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said 200 DTC buses would also be pressed into service. However, the scene at the bus stand was completely different with thousands of migrant workers desperate to return to their villages and towns in Uttar Pradesh. The bus stand didn’t even have a single space to stand with the crowd pushing to get into the buses, thus defying all rules of social distancing.
Out of work & facing an uncertain future, millions of our brothers & sisters across India are struggling to find their way back home. It’s shameful that we’ve allowed any Indian citizen to be treated this way & that the Govt had no contingency plans in place for this exodus. pic.twitter.com/sjHBFqyVZk
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 28, 2020
On Satuday, meanwhile, Union health ministry data said 19 people have died in India, where a 21-day nationwide lockdown has been enforced to stop the fast-spreading coronavirus. Maharashtra tops the list with 180 cases, followed by Kerala with 176.
The number of cases in India has spiked to over 800 from just 50 a little over two weeks ago. The first death was reported on March 11.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) maintains that there is no community transmission in the country. Community transmission is that phase of the outbreak when the source of an individual’s infection can’t be traced and isolated.
On Friday, Kerala reported 39 new cases, sparking fears of community transmission. Kasargod district reported 34 of the 39 cases, in an indication that the disease may have spread deep.
“When the disease has spread to 192 countries, it means screening at entry points will serve no purpose. India anyway is in a state of lockdown that will show benefits if people follow the dos and don’ts. Since the disease is here, what we need to do now is improve our case management and strengthen surveillance within the community. Our efforts now are concentrating on not letting it spread further,” Lav Aggarwal, joint secretary in the Union ministry of health and family welfare, said.
Hospitals across the country have also started preparing for a possible surge in the number of cases. In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the government is equipped to handle up to 100 new cases a day, and is working to ensure that it is prepared even if the numbers go up to 500-1,000 new cases.
To prepare for Stage III, the government has prohibited export of ventilators and asked two PSUs to manufacture 40,000 ventilators. The government is also ensuring adequate supply of personal protection equipment (PPE), N-95 masks and hand sanitizers, which are crucial in infection control.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a special contributory fund. Akshay Kumar made a donation of Rs 25 crore and BCCI contributed Rs 51 crore to to the Prime Minister’s new relief fund.
In the world, nearly 645, 194 people have been infected by the virus. According to Aljazeera, Spain’s death toll from the coronavirus pandemic jumped to 5,690 on Saturday, with 832 patients dying in the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry. The announcement came as the number of people infected with the virus in the United States hit more than 104,000, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, with deaths surpassing 1,700.