India’s COVID-19 death toll has reached 1,698 with a rise of almost three hundred in just two days. The total number of positive coronavirus cases has also risen sharply inching closer to 50,000. This despite India remaining under one of the harshest nationwide lockdowns for over 40 days.
Maharashtra has continued to remain the worst-hit Indian state with 617 coronavirus deaths. Not far behind is Gujarat with 368 deaths and nearly 8,000 positive cases. This number could increase sharply as the state government tends to release its data later in the day. US President Donald Trump had visited the state with the Indian government arranging for hundreds of thousands of people to line up on both sides of streets to welcome the visiting dignitaries. Over one lakh people had assembled inside a stadium in Ahmedabad to listen to Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the peak of the pandemic in Europe and China.
Madhya Pradesh has registered 176 deaths, while the number of people killed by the deadly virus in Bengal has considerably gone up to 140. Rajasthan has recorded 89 deaths, Uttar Pradesh 56, Andhra Pradesh 36, Telangana and Karnataka 29, Punjab 25.
The Indian government recently extended its 40-day nationwide lockdown by another two weeks. However, the government has not explained what it intends to do post 18 May when the lockdown comes to an end.
Experts have argued that endless lockdown is not the solution to fight a global pandemic of this magnitude since this has had a crippling effect on the economy.
The government has recently removed restrictions from zones that it considers green or orange by allowing business activities with reduced staffing. Single retail shops too have been allowed to open in these areas.
The government has also started special train services to transport millions of stranded migrant workers from across the country. This had triggered a full-blown controversy as opposition parties slammed the government for charging desperate workers for train tickets when they had run out of money due to a prolonged period of unemployment during the nationwide lockdown. Faced with embarrassment, the government had to issue a clarification stating that it will not charge passengers for their train journeys.