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Govt data shows 149 cases in 24 hrs, Covid-19 count hits 873

Confirmed Covid-19 cases shot up by 149 in India on Saturday morning, taking the total count to 873 as the country recorded its biggest jump in a 24-hour period, according to the Union health ministry data.

The data said 19 people have died in India, where a 21-day nationwide lockdown has been enforced to stop the fast-spreading SARS-Cov-2 virus, which causes the deadly infection. Maharashtra tops the list with 177 cases, followed by Kerala (165).

The health ministry’s Friday morning data said there were 724 cases and 17 deaths in the country.

According to worldometer, a global case tracker which says it gives live statistics, India has 887 infections and 20 deaths as of Saturday morning.

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 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.

India has taken unprecedented steps to fight the disease – the latest being a complete lockdown and increased surveillance.

“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 on Friday.

Hospitals across the country have also started preparing for a possible surge in the number of cases.

In Delhi, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Friday 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.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, is also keeping its 800-bed National Cancer Institute in Jhajjar, ready to accommodate a higher number of patients.

There are four main stages of the outbreak. Stage I is usually when cases are imported and are not of local origin. Stage II is when there is local transmission, which means a section of people testing positive have come in contact with a positive patient having a travel history. Stage III is community transmission. Stage IV is an epidemic, when there several clusters of the infection.

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.

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