NEW DELHI, April 25 - The nationwide tally of coronavirus positive patients neared 25,000 on Saturday with fresh cases getting detected in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh among other places, but the government said the daily growth rate has dipped to 6 per cent and some states began relaxing some lockdown conditions by allowing more shops to open.
At least 56 more deaths have been reported since Friday evening � the highest so far in a span of 24 hours � to take the death toll across the country to at least 779, according to the Union Health Ministry figures.
While an estimated 5.8 lakh tests have been conducted so far, the government has put on hold the use of rapid test kits procured from two Chinese firms to check their efficacy after some states, including Rajasthan, reported they were giving inaccurate results.
On a positive note, the Delhi government said it has seen encouraging results from the plasma therapy trial on more patients. Karnataka also began similar trials on Saturday, while Rajasthan said it was also ready to conduct these trials.
Some states, taking cue from a late Friday night order from the Union Home Ministry, said they are taking steps to open more categories of shops, including those selling garments, mobile phones, hardware and stationery items.
However, these relaxations would not be allowed for shops located in market places, malls and COVID-19 hotspots and containment zones. In rural areas, all shops barring those in malls have been allowed to open.
Liquor and cigarette shops would remain closed everywhere irrespective of their location, while sale of non-essential items through e-commerce platforms continue to remain shut. Restaurants, hair salons and barber shops will not be allowed to open as these render services and do not fall under the shop category.
The Delhi government said it will implement the Home Ministry order on opening of shops in the national capital, but Maharashtra ruled out any immediate relaxation saying the lockdown guidelines will remain unchanged in the state till May 3. Gujarat, on the other hand, decided to follow the directive, while Assam said it will take a decision on Monday.
A nationwide lockdown has been in place since March 25, which was first scheduled to end on April 14, but was extended till May 3 to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. � PTI