New Delhi: The highly infectious COVID-19 has killed 239 people in the country, with 40 new deaths reported in the last 24 hours. The total number of positive coronavirus cases is now 7,447. The highest number of cases has been reported from Maharashtra, with 1,574 people testing positive for the novel coronavirus that was first detected in China in December. A novel virus is one that has not been previously identified in humans. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address the nation again to announce his decision on whether the coronavirus lockdown will end on Tuesday. Before the decision, he will meet with Chief Ministers via video conference today.
Here’s your 10-point cheatsheet to this big story:
- Globally, the number of deaths linked to the novel coronavirus reached one lakh on Friday, as the tally of cases passed 16 lakh, according to a Reuters tally.
- In the national capital, the number of COVID-19 hotspots stands at 30, up from 25 on Thursday, where strict containment measures are being taken including a total ban on people leaving their homes.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) says more testing is a key step in the fight against the virus and cities like Mumbai have ramped up testing with more testing kits being procured and private labs conducting tests as well.
- Random coronavirus tests on patients with severe respiratory diseases are showing that more and more people with no travel or contact history are contracting the virus. Data compiled by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) showed that 38 per cent of such patients, who later tested positive for the virus, had no history of travel.
- The ICMR, the nodal body for the fight against the virus, has amped up testing in hotspots identified and sealed in Delhi and several other states. Now people present in the hotspots, whether connected to the patients or not, will be tested if they are showing symptoms of the disease for at least a week, the medical body said.
- For nearly three weeks, only five categories of people were being tested for coronavirus infection. Now ICMR has revised the strategy, allowing people with fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose in hotspot areas with seven days of illness to be tested.
- The expansion of the scope of the tests comes as the government is considering whether to lift or extend the countrywide lockdown, which is scheduled to end on Tuesday.
- With the number of COVID-19 cases rising, many states have suggested an extension of the lockdown. But with twin pressures of the economy and the harvest season, there have also been suggestions of a phased lifting of the lockdown, keeping the hotspots of the disease sealed.
- “Coronavirus is the biggest threat that the human race has faced in more than a century. Life will not be the same ever. All of us must understand this and face it boldly together. With our sacrifice and with the blessing of Lord Jagannath, this too shall pass,” Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said on Thursday while announcing extension of the lockdown in the state.
- Medical experts in nations that have managed to keep the virus under control, have repeatedly underscored the importance of aggressive testing. South Korea has successfully conducted mass testing of their people, with drive-through kiosks where swabs were taken and the results texted to the patient after six hours