Little room for relaxing Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in India as cases rise sharply

A migrant worker carries his son as they walk along a road with others to return to their village, during a 21-day nationwide lockdown. (Photo courtesy: Reuters)

(, Apr20’20) – With a total of 86,306 infections as of Apr 20 at 2:38 PM (GMT+8), Turkey has become the seventh country in the world to overtake China, the original epicentre, in the number of people infected by the Covid-19 global pandemic, with the USA being the worst hit. But while the cases are reported to be flattening out in New York, the worst affected area in the USA, as well as in the worst affected countries in Europe, India continues to see sharp daily increases.

The cumulative total of infections across the world was 2,411,553 and the deaths 165,338 as of Apr 20 at 2:08:19 PM (GMT-4) according to data from the Johns Hopkins University. The worst hit countries in terms of number of infections were USA (759,786), Spain (198,674), Italy (178,972), France (154,098), Germany (145,743), United Kingdom (121,173) and Turkey (86,306).

India suffered its biggest single-day spike yet in the past 24 hours as of Apr 20 at 8AM with 1,553 new infections, taking the country’s cumulative total to 17,265. The country also saw 36 deaths, taking the total deaths to 543.

Seven states in India now have more than 1000 cases with Maharashtra leading by a wide margin. The state had, as of Apr 20 at 8AM, 4,203 (+552) infections, followed by Delhi with 2,003 (+110) infections, Gujarat with 1,743 (+367) infections, Rajasthan with 1,478 (+127) infections, Tamil Nadu with 1,477 (+105) infections, Madhya Pradesh with 1,407 (+0) infections, Uttar Pradesh with 1084 (+115) infections, Telangana with 844 (+35) infections, Andhra Pradesh with 646 (+43) infections, Kerala with 402 (+2) infections, Karnataka with 390 (+6) infections, Jammu & Kashmir with 350 (+9) infections, West Bengal with 339 (+29) infections, Haryana with 233 (+8) infections, and Punjab with 219 (+17) infections.

Other badly hit states/Union Territories were Bihar, 93 (+7); Odisha, 68 (+7); Uttarakhand, 44 (+2); Jharkhand, 42 (+8), Himachal Pradesh, 39 (+0); Chattisgarh, 36 (+0), Assam, 35 (+0); Chandigarh, 26 (+3); Ladakh, 18 (+0); Andaman and Nicobar Islands, 15 (+1); and Meghalaya 11 (+0).

Besides, Puducherry (7), Goa (7), Manipur (2), Tripura (2), Mizoram (1), and Arunachal Pradesh (1) and had reported cases. One case in Nagaland was transferred to Assam.

Maharashtra also had the most number of deaths at 223 (+12), followed by Madhya Pradesh, 70 (+0); Gujarat, 63 (+10); Delhi, 45 (+3); Telangana, 18 (+0); Tamil Nadu 15 (+0); Andhra Pradesh, 15 (+0); Punjab, 16 (+3); Karnataka, 16 (+2); Uttar Pradesh, 17 (+3); West Bengal, 12 (+0); Rajasthan, 14 (+3); Jammu & Kashmir, 5 (+0); Haryana, 3 (+0), Kerala, 3 (+0); Jharkhand, 2 (+0); and Bihar 2 (+0). Besides Odisha, HP, Meghalaya, and Assam had 1 death each. (Source:

The ministry of Health data is somewhat lower than that reported by the country’s media and other sources such as and Johns Hopkins University (17,615). For example, media reports say Himachal Pradesh had 40 cases and 2 deaths whereas the Health Ministry data shows 39 infections and 1 death.

India declared an initial three-week nationwide lockdown from Mar 24 to Apr14 and extended it till May 3 as cases continued to surge sharply.

The worsening situation has left little room for relaxing the existing lockdown restrictions after Apr 20 otherwise promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Indeed states like Punjab, Delhi, Karnataka and Telangana have made it clear that they won’t relax the restrictions for at least another week. State relaxations cannot exceed those announced by the centre, although they can implement additional restrictions at local levels in keeping with the local situation.

Delhi has declared 79 containment zones, also known as red zones, across the city’s 11 districts. They are the areas sealed by the district administrations after at least three coronavirus cases are found in the locality.

In Himachal Pradesh, police chief Mr Sita Ram Mardi said Apr 19 that interstate and inter-district movement in the state during the lockdown will continue to remain suspended after Apr 20 “till further instructions”.

The state’s chief minister Jai Ram Thakur has directed officers to get people with permits issued by authorities entering the state tested with rapid diagnostic kits at border entry points. Those found positive should be shifted to quarantine centres and further confirmed for coronavirus with the RT-PCR test. In addition, he has said that only persons with negative reports should be allowed to enter the state borders but they should be kept under strict vigil during home quarantine, reported Apr 19.

Chamba, Kangra, Solan, Hamirpur and Una are all districts in the state with hotspot areas, subjected to red-zone restrictions, noted a report Apr 20.


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