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World India's coronavirus cases tick up despite immense lockdown

14:33  26 march  2020
14:33  26 march  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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India ' s coronavirus cases tick up despite immense lockdown .

The number of coronavirus deaths on Tuesday ticked up to nine from six a day earlier, all in Washington state, where officials are battling a cluster of cases . The total number of cases nationwide is least 108 - with a New York man among the latest diagnosed.

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Three more people infected with coronavirus died overnight in India as the government sought on Thursday to improve basic services to 1.3 billion people locked indoors to slow the spread of the disease.

Streets were silent across India's cities and towns on the second day of a three-week, 24 hour shutdown as people heeded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call not to step out of homes except in emergencies or to buy food and other necessities.

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The number of coronavirus deaths on Tuesday ticked up to nine from six a day earlier, all in Washington state, where officials are battling a cluster of cases . The total number of cases nationwide is least 108 - with a New York man among the latest diagnosed.

The lockdown in India affects 1.3 billion people and closes all private businesses and government offices deemed nonessential. From spraying down subways to locking down entire cities, governments around the world are using similar measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Lines of people, wearing masks and some with gloves, could be seen outside small neighborhood shops in Delhi and Mumbai, among other cities. 

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Trucks were stranded at state borders and public transport was withdrawn. Police have strictly enforced the lockdown even though Modi said essential services would be maintained. 

Ram Prakash, a shopkeeper in Delhi's Nizamuddin area, said supplies of some essential goods had improved although bottled water was still a problem.

"We are still facing supply issues with a few things, but slowly things are getting better,” he said.

The health ministry said the number of cases of coronavirus had risen to 649, of which 13 had died.

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On 24 March, the government of India under prime minister Narendra Modi ordered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, limiting movement of the entire 1.3 billion population of India as a preventive

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The numbers are still small compared with those in China, Italy and Spain, but health experts have warned that the world's second most populous country faces a tidal wave of infections if tough steps are not taken.

Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO's top emergencies expert, told a Geneva news conference that with the lockdown in place, India had a window of opportunity to expand testing, surveillance and quarantine facilities and said its success with eliminating polio was an example.

"India got rid of polio by breaking it by breaking it down to the village level. All the way through the system, it broke down the problem, it went after the polio virus district by district by district by district. And India won."

"If India does the same thing, breaks down the problem, puts in place the measures that are needed, then there is a way out."

India has tested 24,254 people as of Wednesday, according to the government run Indian Council of Medical Research, a small number compared to the population.

Only recently has the government authorized the private sector and some nongovernmental research laboratories to run the tests for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

HIKERS STRANDED NEAR EVEREST

The number of cases rose to 1,102 in neighboring Pakistan with eight deaths, with most cases in Sindh province that is under a lockdown. But infections in Punjab, the most populous province, are picking up now, government data showed.

On Wednesday, Pakistan said it was seeking a fresh $1.4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help it deal with the economic slowdown from the coronavirus.

Pakistan is already on a three-year rescue package that began last year as the country of 208 million people wrestles with a balance-of-payments crisis.

In Nepal, authorities were trying to evacuate tourists stranded in different parts of the country due to a nationwide lockdown, bring them to Kathmandu and arrange to send them home, the government said.

Shyam Thapa of the Himalayan Expedition company said about 125 foreign hikers were stranded at Lukla, the gateway to Mount Everest. “They are safe and have no problem,” Thapa told Reuters.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Gibran Peshiman in Islamabad, Aftab Ahmad in Delhi and Gopal Sharma in Kathmandu; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

India holds one-day curfew to test coronavirus defences .
Millions of Indians went into lockdown Sunday as the country brought most of its vast railway network to a halt in a bid to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. In a sign of growing anxiety, Indian Railways, one of the world's biggest networks, cancelled all services except suburban and goods trains until March 31. The move will affect more than 20 million passengers a day and comes after several people tested positive for the virus after trips. Modi also urged Indians to thank medical workers and other emergency personnel by clapping or banging pots and pans for five minutes at 5:00 pm.

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