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Not relaxed despite fall in the rapid rise of coronavirus cases: Health Ministry

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After four consecutive days of a rapid rise in the number of infections ranging between 70 and 80, 43 new cases of coronavirus have been registered in the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday. Even on Wednesday, 73 new cases were detected, which took the total to 606. With the 43 new cases, the total stands at 649 at 5 pm on Thursday. Four more persons have died, taking the death toll to 13.

“We have observed that the rate of growth of cases has decreased, but in no way are we being relaxed about anything at this point,” Lav Agarwal, senior Health Ministry official, told the media during a press conference.

Calling it a “stable or slow growth”, the official said, “People quarantined must be monitored.  We need to make people aware about social distancing and they must be reassured that there will be no shortage of essential commodities so that they stop crowding shops”.

Two days ago, the government had announced a 21-day countrywide “curfew-like” lockdown that came with penal provisions for violations under the National Disaster Management Act.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who made the announcement in the evening on Tuesday, said while 21 days might seem like a long time, “this is the only way to ensure everyone is safe”. Staying at home, he had repeatedly said, is now a matter of survival.

Medical experts, however, said it is too early to see the results yet.

Today, the World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said lockdowns will not be enough to eradicate the virus. They have only created what he called a “second window of opportunity”.

“Aggressive measures to find, isolate, test, treat and trace is not only the best and fastest way out of extreme social and economic restrictions, but they’re also the best way to prevent them,” the WHO chief added.