Two more deaths linked to the COVID-19 virus were reported today, with Maharashtra confirming its fourth death in the outbreak and Kashmir its first.
In Kashmir, a 65-year-old man from Hyderpora village who tested positive for the virus three days ago died this morning at the Government Chest Disease Hospital in Srinagar.
“As we share the sad news of our first COVID-19 fatality, my heart goes out to the family of the deceased. We stand with you and share your grief,” Junaid Azim Mattu, the Srinagar mayor tweeted.
“I also salute the brave doctors at Chest Disease Hospital for their efforts. Let us do our bit and help break the chain and stay home, stay safe,” he added.
As we share the sad news of our first #Covid19 fatality, my heart goes out to the family of the deceased. We stand with you and share your grief.
I also salute the brave doctors at CD Hospital for their efforts.
— Mayor of Srinagar (@MayorofS) March 26, 2020
Four others who came in contact with the man who died also tested positive on Wednesday and have been quarantined, as have over 70 others, including seven doctors. The total number of active COVID-19 cases in Jammu and Kashmir is now 11.
Authorities in Kashmir have expressed apprehensions that the number of cases could be more than reported as a significant number of people appeared to have concealed their travel history.
Over 5,124 travellers and people who came in contact with suspected and positive cases have been put under surveillance. Among them 3,061 are in home quarantine (in facilities operated by the government), 80 in hospital quarantine and 1,477 under home surveillance.
However, only around 300 cases have been sent for testing so far.
In Maharashtra, the worst-hit state with more than 120 active cases, a woman from Navi Mumbai who died on March 24 tested positive for the virus today, state health officials said.
“The test came out positive this morning. We are now taking the necessary precautions for her relatives as well,” the official was quoted by news agency PTI.
The COVID-19 virus has infected over 600 people across the country and been linked to the deaths of at least 10 people, according to the Union Health Ministry.
The country entered a “total lockdown” on Wednesday, as ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to halt the spread of the virus. “Forget about stepping out of your homes for the next 21 days,” the Prime Minister said in a televised address to the nation the day before.
The announcement was followed by states and union territories locking down and imposing a curfew.
In Kashmir restrictions have been imposed on movement and strict legal action initiated against those who violated them. Security forces sealed off several roads in Srinagar city and erected barriers across others in the Valley to enforce the lockdown.
Police have filed more than 200 FIRS (first information reports) against violators.
The administration has also imposed Section 144 to ban large gatherings and urge people to practice social distancing – avoiding close contact with others as the virus spreads through droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze.
Worldwide the virus, which originated in China’s Wuhan district in December last year, has killed more than 18,000 people and infected over 4.1 lakh others.