New Delhi, March 27, 2020:

The total number of coronavirus (or COVID-19) cases in India has now risen to 733, with twenty deaths being recorded. This is a marked increase since yesterday, when we saw only 13 deaths recorded at this point in the day.

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Internationally, 24,090 deaths have been reported till date due to the coronavirus, with a large chunk of those being reported from Italy. In all, 532,263 people have been infected by the virus till now, with 124,349 having recovered. Somewhat gravely, 19,635 are said to be in a “serious” condition.

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It is worthwhile to mention here that the US has now overtaken China and Italy to become the country with the most number of corona cases with 85,594 reports of the virus reported in the country. China is second with 81,340 cases, while Italy has 80,549 cases. Notably, Italy has recorded the most number of deaths at 8,215. It is expected that the US, which has seen 1,300 deaths so far, will continue to see an uptick in the number of corona cases as the world medical community struggles to find a solution to the coronavirus that is spreading at an unprecedented rate.

Meanwhile, the Government of India has announced a a Rs 1.7 lakh crore stimulus to help those hit by the 21-day lockdown in the country. This was announced by India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman yesterday.

The economic relief package worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore has the Garib Kalyan Yojana, which aims to benefit 80 crore poor or two-third of the population. The Government under this scheme will provide 5 kg rice or wheat free for the next three months. This is in addition to the 5 kg ration that they already get. The scheme also provides them the option of choosing their own preferred pulses of 1 kg.

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8 crore BPL families will be given free cylinders for the next three months. “We have come with a package that will immediately help those affected directly, those migrants workers, urban and rural poor. We are looking both at cash transfers as well as food security measures,” said Sitharaman, while announcing the benefits.

To benefit the construction workers, the Government has decided to direct the State Governments to use Funds under Buildings and other Construction Workers Act. The Finance Minister said, “It has Rs 31,000 crore in it. It has 3.5 crore registered workers. We intent to tell states to utilize this fund to provide assistance to workers.”

She added that the District Fund will also be used to augment medical testing, screening and other requirements to fight coronavirus. Finance Minister Sitharaman has announced Rs 50 lakh medical cover per person for the government’s sanitation workers, ASHA workers, doctors, paramedics, others, if they need it. The scheme is expected to benefit 20 lakh such workers.

The first installment of the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Yojana to the Farmers will be delivered by April. Over 8 crore farmers are expected to benefit from this. The Government has announced hike in MNREGA wages from Rs 182 to Rs 202 a day (Rs 2,000 per worker additional), which is expected to benefit some five crore families.

An ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 for widows, old-aged and Rs 500 ex-gratia for 20 crore women for the next three months have been announced.

Note: Data collected from worldometers.info

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