NEW DELHI, March 21 - The number of novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 283 on Saturday with 60 persons testing positive as several States went into battle mode to contain the pandemic, announcing partial shutdowns and imposing restrictions on people�s movement and gatherings among a slew of precautionary measures.
The health ministry said the total number of coronavirus positive cases stood at 283, with 60 fresh cases reported, the highest in a day.
In some good news, Uttar Pradesh Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh, who had attended a party with Bollywood singer Kanika Kapoor days before she tested positive for coronavirus, tested negative for COVID-19 on Saturday.
The 66-year-old minister had gone into self-isolation after undergoing the testing here on Friday. Samples of 28 people who came in contact with him have also tested negative, King George Medical University spokesperson Dr Sudhir Singh said.
The Uttar Pradesh Police have filed an FIR against Kapoor for negligence and committing acts that are likely to spread disease dangerous to life. She had attended at least three gatherings in Lucknow, including a party where political leaders were present.
Following Kapoor�s announcement, a number of people who came in contact with her directly or indirectly went into self-quarantine. They included BJP leader Vasundhara Raje, her MP son Dushyant Singh and parliamentarians Derek O�Brien and Anupriya Patel.
The total figure of 283 cases in the country includes four deaths reported from Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra and also 39 foreign nationals � 17 from Italy, three from the Philippines, two from the UK, and one each from Canada, Indonesia and Singapore.
�The total number of active COVID-19 cases across India stands at 256 so far,� the ministry said, adding 23 others have been cured/discharged/migrated while four have died.
Maharashtra has reported the highest number of cases at 63, including three foreigners, followed by Kerala at 40, including 7 foreign nationals.
Delhi has reported 26 positive cases, which include one foreigner, while Uttar Pradesh has recorded 24 cases, including one foreigner.
Several States also came out with fresh numbers of positive cases though these were not immediately taken into account by the health ministry.
The Delhi government said the novel coronavirus is causing terrible financial stress to the poor and announced that those receiving ration from fair-price shops would get 50 per cent extra for next month.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal pension for widows, differently-abled and elderly will be doubled for this month.
The Chhattisgarh government ordered closure of all its offices, except those providing essential and emergency services, till March 31.
In Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced a �near total� shutdown in five districts and eight other prominent towns for a week from Sunday morning.
The Akola district administration in Maharashtra ordered a lockdown between March 22 and 24 during which all establishments except those selling essential items, will remain closed. The move is similar to the sectoral shutdown put in place in Maharashtra�s major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Nagpur.
At a press conference, the health ministry said it carried out training for critical care management at 1,000 places through video conference and will conduct nationwide mock drill on Sunday for emergency response to handle coronavirus cases.
Health ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said guidelines for coronavirus tests have been revised, directing that asymptomatic direct, high-risk contacts of confirmed cases should be tested once between day 5 and day 14 of coming in contact with an infected person.
The government is likely to issue guidelines for private labs for the test later on Saturday, he said, adding that people should not go for coronavirus tests �out of fashion� or as a confidence-building exercise. Protocols are in place and that will be followed, he said.
He asserted that the government is working to ramp up production of masks and sanitisers with States asked to allow deodorant manufacturers to produce sanitisers. � PTI