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NEW DELHI - COVID-19 extended its footprint in India on Monday with the eastern state of Odisha reporting its first coronavirus patient and one new case each in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Kerala, taking the total count to 114, Health Ministry officials said.
The Maharashtra government also reported four more patients of the infection, as concerns over the pandemic steered decisions across all sectors and states, including in politically volatile Madhya Pradesh.
The ministry did not immediately add the Maharashtra cases to its national count, covering 15 states and union territories.
The tally of 114 includes 17 foreigners. While two people died, 13 people were discharged after they recovered from the infection, which according to the WHO has infected 1,53,517 people in 135 countries and territories and claimed more than 5,700 lives.
With the four new patients, Odisha has a count of one, Kerala 23, Ladakh four and Jammu and Kashmir three, according to the ministry.
As many states virtually shut down to stem the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the contribution of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers in fighting the virus. He said there was a coordinated response to the outbreak, showing the strong spirit of the nation in such situations.
In a series of tweets with the hashtag 'India Fights Corona', Modi said the encouragement from people highlighting the steps being taken to combat the virus is boosting the morale of all the "remarkable people" at the forefront of the fight.
A Maharashtra government official said four patients were detected for the novel coronavirus infection, taking the state tally to 37.
Giving details of the Odisha case, an official in Bhubaneswar said a researcher who recently returned from Italy tested positive for the coronavirus.
The 33-year-old patient who reached Delhi from Italy on March 6 and travelled to Bhubaneswar by train on March 12 is being treated at the Capital Hospital in the Odisha capital.
"His condition is stable and he is not showing any other complications," the state government's chief spokesperson on coronavirus cases Subroto Bagchi told reporters.
The man consulted a doctor on March 13, complaining of fever and headache, and was admitted to the hospital's isolation ward the next day.
As he travelled by train from Delhi to Bhubaneswar, the state government has launched a "contact tracing exercise", Bagchi said.
His family members have been quarantined and kept under observation.
In Madhya Pradesh, where the future of the Congress-led Kamal Nath government hangs in balance, there was no floor test as was being speculated and the assembly was adjourned in view of the state government's concerns over the coronavirus.
BJP MLAs demanded a floor test as directed by Governor Lalji Tandon -- after 22 Congress MLAs of the Congress resigned from the party.
However, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Govind Singh raised the issue of the coronavirus threat and also mentioned the Central government's advisory on the matter, prompting Speaker N P Prajapati to accept his plea and adjourn proceedings till March 26.
While political confabulations continued in the central Indian state, many thousands of students across the country were restricted to their homes and employees worked from home as administrations all over put into effect plans to contain the spread of the contagious disease with flu-like symptoms.
Gyms, cinema halls, swimming pools and other places were closed in many states. Adding to its restrictions, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said no religious, social, cultural and political gathering of over 50 people would be allowed in Delhi till March 31.
The Supreme Court, where lawyers, litigants and others were thermal screened, took suo motu cognisance of overcrowding and infrastructure of prisons across the country.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and L N Rao issued a notice to the Director General, Prison, and chief secretary of all states and union territories seeking their response by March 20 on steps taken for prevention of COVID-19.
Efforts were also on to bring back Indians stranded abroad.
An Air India flight with 53 Indians evacuated from coronavirus-hit Iran landed in New Delhi and the passengers were flown to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan where they have been quarantined at the Army Wellness Centre.
"Fourth batch of 53 Indians - 52 students and a teacher - has arrived from Tehran and Shiraz, Iran. With this, a total of 389 Indians have returned to India from Iran. Thank the efforts of the team @India_in_Iran and Iranian authorities," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted.
Iran is one of the worst-affected countries by the coronavirus outbreak with over 14,000 cases detected and over 700 people dead.
Signalling its serious intent to contain the infection, police in Kochi registered a case against 79 people for organising a mass reception for a popular reality show contestant on his arrival at the Cochin International Airport despite restrictions on such gatherings in view of the coronavirus threat.
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