New Delhi, May 14 (PTI) The government on Friday unveiled special measures amounting to over Rs 3 lakh crore for migrant workers, farmers and other segments of the economy to help them tide over the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the deadly virus infection spread further in various states to push the nationwide tally closer to the 80,000 mark.
The death toll crossed 2,500, while more than 26,000 have recovered so far.
Some states like Kerala, Goa and Assam have also begun showing a sudden uptick in new cases after having flattened the curve earlier, while Odisha, West Bengal and Bihar are also reporting higher rates for past few days. Officials said most of the new cases in these places are linked to people having returned from outside in special trains, buses and flights.
Large numbers of cases continued to get reported in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and the national capital.
Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, however, said the doubling time of the number of cases has improved to 13.9 days in the last three days. He also said the testing capability has been ramped up to nearly one lakh tests per day and the total number of tests conducted so far is about 20 lakh now.
Taking forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi''s announcement of Rs 20 lakh crore economic package to help India become self-reliant in the wake of the pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled the second round of these special measures, totalling about Rs 3.16 lakh crore in terms of concessional credit for farmers, free foodgrains for migrant workers and working capital loan for street vendors, among other incentives.
On Wednesday also, measures worth about Rs 5.94 lakh crore were announced that mostly included off-budget credit lines and support for small businesses, non-banking finance companies and power distribution companies.
Further announcements are expected in coming days to provide a stimulus to the economy hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Modi said the new announcements made by Sitharaman will especially benefit farmers and migrant workers.
However, the main opposition party, Congress, said these measures only amounted to a ''jumla package'' and the announcements made so far were deeply disappointing and way short of what the prime minister had promised.
The stock market saw its benchmark indices falling by nearly 2.5 per cent on concerns over efficacy of the government''s stimulus package and grim global cues after major markets worldwide crashed following comments from the World Health Organisation that the novel coronavirus "may never go away".
Since its emergence in China last December, more than 43.7 lakh people have been tested positive for the virus while close to 3 lakh have lost their lives. Some countries, including China, have also begun seeing re-emergence of the virus after exit from their respective lockdowns.
In India, a nationwide lockdown has been in place since March 25, though some relaxations have been given in the third phase which began on May 4 and is scheduled to end this Sunday. The government is yet to announce the way forward after May 17, though Modi has said the fourth phase of the lockdown will be different and details would be made public before May 18.
In its daily morning update, the Union Health Ministry said the death toll due to COVID-19 has risen 2,549 and the number of cases has climbed to 78,003, registering an increase of 134 deaths and 3,722 cases in the last 24 hours since Wednesday 8 AM.
It put the number of active COVID-19 cases at 49,219 and said 26,234 people have recovered, giving a recovery rate of 33.63 per cent.
However, a PTI tally of figures announced by different states and union territories, as of 6.40 PM, put the total number of confirmed cases across the country at 78,880.
While Maharashtra and Gujarat continue to top the tally, Kerala also saw a sudden rise in cases with 26 people, including seven foreign returnees and a police personnel, testing positive on Thursday. This has taken the state''s tally to 560.
After remaining free of any new cases for more than a month, Goa has also detected eight fresh cases, but Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said there was no possibility of community transmission as all of them have come from outside and are in quarantine.
In Assam, seven persons who recently returned from Mumbai tested positive, taking the total number of cases in the state to 86. These new cases include three cancer patients and a 13-year-old girl who recently underwent heart surgery in Mumbai. The other three are their attendants.
Six buses carrying 137 passengers, mostly cancer patients and their attendants, had reached the state from Mumbai late on Tuesday and they were quarantined at a hotel. Assam has reported 24 cases so far this week with 15 on Wednesday itself.
Delhi saw its coronavirus death toll rise to 115, while its total number of cases has reached 8,470 after 472 fresh cases -- the highest for a day. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, however, said certain economic activities will be allowed in the city from May 18 based on decisions taken by the Centre on lockdown relaxation.
"The country, including Delhi, had been closed for the last one and a half months due to coronavirus-forced lockdown. It was easy to close, but we have to work very hard to open up the economy," he said. PTI PLB JD DP ANZ BUN KND NAB SKC RPS DG UD BJ BJ
Disclaimer :- This story has not been edited by Outlook staff and is auto-generated from news agency feeds. Source: PTI