About 500 people entered self-isolation in staff quarters of the Rashtrapati Bhawan on Tuesday, as the coronavirus spreading through South Asia hit the heart of the region’s governments.
In India, the alarm was raised at President Ram Nath Kovind’s residence in Delhi after the daughter-in-law of a sanitation worker living in employee quarters tested positive. Neither Kovind, 74, nor his aides would self-isolate as they would not have come into contact with lower-level workers, officials said. The president has a mostly ceremonial role.
The families of Rashtrapati Bhawan workers living in 114 apartments on the grounds were ordered to stay inside, and seven members of the sanitation worker’s family were moved to quarantine.
India’s 1.3 billion people have been ordered to remain indoors for 40 days under a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of the virus.
Authorities have confirmed 18,984 cases of COVID-19, including 603 deaths, a low toll compared with Western countries with much smaller populations, though officials say a lack of testing may mean many more cases have not been reported.
An employee of the Parliament has also tested positive, but did not come to work, an official said. The administrative wing of the legislature reopened on Monday as part of a staggered exit from the lockdown.
MOB ATTACKS AMBULANCE
Police in Tamil Nadu arrested 21 people for attacking an ambulance carrying the corpse of a doctor who succumbed to the coronavirus, officials said.
The mob attacked the ambulance early on Monday as they thought it was unsafe for the neighbourhood and would result in locals contracting the virus, they said.
The state’s Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy assured citizens that the state was carrying out necessary safety precautions before burying the deceased and that incidents like these were worrying.
“I assure doctors and health workers that the government will prioritize the safety of doctors and health workers,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
While the total number of confirmed infections is rising, health officials said the speed of transmission was slowing thanks to the lockdown, in place until May 3.
The “doubling rate” – the number of days it takes infections to multiply by two – had increased to 7.5 days, up from 3.4 days before the lockdown, health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said. “This is an extremely positive trend,” he said.