India sees biggest jump in Covid-19 cases, debate on ending lockdown
April 08 2020 11:40 AM
People stop to take photos as inventor Sudhakar Yadav (inside) leads his coronavirus-themed made car
People stop to take photos as inventor Sudhakar Yadav (inside) leads his coronavirus-themed made car on a road for an awareness campaign during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Hyderabad

Dpa/New Delhi

India on Wednesday reported its biggest jump in Covid-19-related deaths and cases in the past 24 hours making a complete easing of a countrywide lockdown on April 15 look unlikely.

The latest Health Ministry data added 35 deaths between Tuesday and Wednesday morning, taking the total number of casualties to 149. The number of cases stood at 5,194, a jump of 773.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown on March 24 to contain a possible surge of new coronavirus cases in the country of 1.3 billion people.

All except those working in health care and providing essential services and commodities were asked to stay at home. Flights, train and vehicular traffic were stopped and borders between states sealed.

The countrywide lockdown is due to end on April 14, but as the number of cases continues to rise, several state governments have indicated they would prefer an extension or a graded easing.

The government has been holding consultations between different departments, state governments, industry leaders and health experts. Modi held a meeting with leaders of major political parties Wednesday.

Most have advised a phased exit from the lockdown to balance health concerns with the economic damage it has caused, NDTV news channel reported citing top government officials.

A panel of federal ministers has advised extending the closure of schools and colleges and the banning of religious and other gatherings until May 15.

Modi is due to hold a meeting with the chief ministers of all states on Saturday and the federal government's stance is expected to be announced after that.

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