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India reports 50 fresh cases, total climbs to 223

By The Assam Tribune

NEW DELHI, March 20 - India reported 50 fresh cases of COVID-19, highest in a day, taking the tally to 223 on Friday, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed with Chief Ministers ways and preparedness of the States to check and prevent the spread of coronavirus, which has claimed more than 10,000 lives globally.

A spike in numbers prompted the States and UTs to reinforce its efforts to contain the spread. While the Maharashtra Chief Minister said all workplaces in major cities, including in country�s commercial hub Mumbai and Pune, will remain closed till March 31, the Delhi Chief Minister announced shutting down of all malls in the National Capital, but exempted grocery stores and pharmacies in them.

As coronavirus continued its upward trajectory across the country, authorities faced double-barrel challenge � strengthening its check and prevention mechanism, and addressing public panic, leading to hoarding of essential items.

Despite appeals by leaders not to panic and not to hoard items, long lines were seen at grocery stores, pharmacies and outlets selling other essential stuff, throwing the caution of social distancing� to the wind.

Many in public dealing, including traders, responded to Modi�s call for a �janata curfew� on Sunday, saying they will shut their establishments while a number of people opted for self-isolation as a precaution.

Among those found positive for the novel coronavirus are 32 foreign nationals, including 17 from Italy, three from the Philippines, two from the UK, one each belonging to Canada, Indonesia and Singapore.

The figure also included four deaths reported from Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra so far.

�The total number of active COVID 2019 cases across India stands at 196 so far,� the Union Health Ministry said, adding that 23 others have been cured/discharged/migrated while four have died. � PTI

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