COVID-19 pandemic in India
|COVID-19 pandemic in India|
Map of confirmed cases per million residents
|Disease||Coronavirus disease 2019|
|Virus strain||Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2|
|First outbreak||Wuhan, Hubei, China|
|Index case||Thrissur, Kerala|
|Date||30 January 2020 – ongoing|
(5 months and 6 days)
|Confirmed cases||697,413 (6 July 2020)[i]|
|Recovered||424,432 (6 July 2020)[ii]|
|19,693 (6 July 2020)[iii]|
|28 states and 7 union territories|
The COVID-19 pandemic in India is part of the worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case of COVID-19 in India, which originated from China, was reported on 30 January 2020. As of 6 July 2020, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has confirmed a total of 697,413 cases, 424,432 recoveries (including 1 migration) and 19,693 deaths in the country. India currently has the largest number of confirmed cases in Asia, and has the third highest number of confirmed cases in the world after United States and Brazil with the number of total confirmed cases breaching the 100,000 mark on 19 May and 200,000 on 3 June. India's case fatality rate is relatively lower at 2.80%, against the global 4.7%, as of 6 July. Six cities account for around half of all reported cases in the country – Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Pune and Kolkata. As of 24 May 2020, Lakshadweep is the only region which has not reported a case. On 10 June, India's recoveries exceeded active cases for the first time reducing 49% of total infections followed by recovery rate crossing 60% till early July. Although, active have continued to increase persistently.
On 22 March, India observed a 14-hour voluntary public curfew at the instance of the prime minister Narendra Modi. It was followed by mandatory lockdowns in COVID-19 hotspots and all major cities. Further, on 24 March, the Prime Minister ordered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, affecting the entire 1.3 billion population of India. On 14 April, the PM extended the nationwide lockdown till 3 May which was followed by two-week extensions starting 3 and 17 May with substantial relaxations. Beginning 1 June the Government has started unlocking the country (barring containment zones) in three unlock phases.
The United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have praised India's response to the pandemic as 'Comprehensive and robust,' terming the Lockdown restrictions as aggressive but vital for containing the spread and building necessary healthcare infrastructure. The Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) noted the government's swift and stringent actions, emergency policy making, emergency investment in healthcare, fiscal stimulus, investment in vaccine and drug R&D. It gave India a score of 100 for its strict response. Michael Ryan, chief executive director of the WHO's health emergencies programme noted that India had tremendous capacity to deal with the outbreak owing to its vast experience in eradicating smallpox and polio. In June, India was ranked 56th of 200 countries in COVID 19 safety assessment report by Deep Knowledge Group. Though, other commentators have also raised concerns about the economic fallout arising as a result of the pandemic and preventive restrictions. The lockdown was justified by the government and other agencies for being preemptive to prevent India from entering a higher stage which could make handling very difficult and cause even more losses thereafter.
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On 12 January 2020, the WHO confirmed that a novel coronavirus was the cause of a respiratory illness in a cluster of people in Wuhan City, Hubei, China, which was reported to the WHO on 31 December 2019.
On 30 January, India reported its first case of COVID-19 in Kerala, which rose to three cases by 3 February; all were students returning from Wuhan. Apart from these, no significant rise in transmissions was observed in February. On 4 March 22 new cases were reported, including 14 infected members of an Italian tourist group.
|Major events of the COVID-19 pandemic in India until April|
|30 January||First confirmed case|
|4 March||Mandatory International passenger screenings at all airports"Mandatory screenings".|
|12 March||First confirmed death|
|13 March||Suspension of non-essential traveller visas|
|15 March||100 confirmed cases|
|16 March||Passenger land border crossing suspended|
One day Janata Curfew |
Passenger air travel suspended till further notice
|25 March||Nationwide lock-down imposed till 14 April|
|28 March||1,000 confirmed cases|
|30 March||100 confirmed recoveries|
|5 April||100 confirmed deaths|
10,000 confirmed cases |
Nationwide lock-down extended till 3 May
|13 April||1,000 confirmed recoveries|
|19 April||500 confirmed deaths|
|25 April||5,000 confirmed recoveries|
In March, the transmissions grew after several people with travel history to affected countries, and their contacts, tested positive. On 12 March, a 76-year-old man, with a travel history to Saudi Arabia, became the first COVID-19 fatality of India.
A Sikh preacher, who had a travel history to Italy and Germany, turned into a "super spreader" by attending a Sikh festival in Anandpur Sahib during 10–12 March. Twenty-seven COVID-19 cases were traced back to him. Over 40,000 people in 20 villages in Punjab were quarantined on 27 March to contain the spread.
On 31 March, a Tablighi Jamaat religious congregation event in Delhi, which had taken place earlier in March, emerged as a new virus super spreader event, after numerous cases across the country were traced back to it. On 18 April, the Health ministry announced that 4,291 cases were directly linked to the event.
|Major events of COVID-19 pandemic in India since 30 April|
|1 May||Nationwide lock-down further extended till 17 May|
|2 May||10,000 confirmed recoveries|
|7 May||50,000 confirmed cases|
|10 May||2,000 confirmed deaths|
|11 May||20,000 confirmed recoveries|
|17 May||Nationwide lockdown further extended till 31 May|
|19 May||100,000 confirmed cases|
|23 May||50,000 confirmed recoveries|
|27 May||150,000 confirmed cases|
|30 May||Lockdown extended in containment zones till 30 June|
|31 May||5,000 confirmed deaths|
|3 June||100,000 confirmed recoveries|
|10 June||Reported recoveries surpassed active cases|
|13 June||300,000 confirmed cases|
|17 June||10,000 confirmed deaths|
On 2 May, in Punjab, around 4,000 stranded pilgrims returned from Hazur Sahib in Nanded, Maharashtra. Many of them tested positive, including 27 bus drivers and conductors who had been part of the transport arrangement. Till 13 May, 1,225 pilgrims had been tested positive.
|Major events of COVID-19 pandemic in India since 21 June|
|27 June||500,000 confirmed cases|
The outbreak has been declared an epidemic in more than a dozen states and union territories, where provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 have been invoked, leading to the temporary closure of educational and commercial establishments. All tourist visas have been suspended, as a majority of the confirmed cases were mainly imports.
Protective measures were first applied in January. India began thermal screening of passengers arriving from China on 21 January. Initially carried out at seven airports, it was expanded to 20 airports towards the end of January. During February, the screening was extended to passengers from Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea. Nepal, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia were added to the list towards the end of February. Very few new cases were discovered during February, The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) admitted that airport screening alone was insufficient.
By early to mid-March, the government had drawn up plans to deal with a worsening of the pandemic in the country. This included seven ministries working together to set up additional quarantine and treatment facilities across the country. States and twenty ministries, including Home, Defence, Railways, Labour, Minority Affairs, Aviation and Tourism, were informed of the containment plan. Plans to avoid a panic-like situation were also made. The Ministry of Textiles was to ensure the availability of protective and medical materials. The Department of Pharmaceuticals was to ensure the availability of essential medicines. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution was asked to ensure availability of essentials.
On 17 March, the Government of India issued an advisory, urging to all Indian states to take social distancing measures as a preventive strategy for implementation till 31 March. A government directive was issued asking all Central Armed Police Forces to get into battle mode; all non-essential leave was cancelled. A COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force was also formed.
Major Indian cities and many states made wearing facial masks compulsory.
On 29 April, The Ministry of Home Affairs issued guidelines for the states to allow inter-state movement of the stranded persons. States have been asked to designate nodal authorities and form protocols to receive and send such persons. States have also been asked to screen the people, quarantine them and to do periodic health checkups.
Travel and entry restrictions
On 3 March 2020, the Indian government stopped issuing of new visas. Previously issued visas for the nationals of Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Japan were suspended.
All visas were suspended on 13 March, except for diplomatic and other official visas, as well as the visa-free travel for Overseas Citizens of India. Indians returning from COVID-affected countries were asked to be quarantined for 14 days. These measures were expanded to citizens from Europe, Gulf countries and Asian countries including Malaysia on 17–18 March.
The land border with Myanmar began to be restricted on 9 March with the initiative of the state governments of Mizoram and Manipur. On 13 March, the Government of India closed passenger traffic from all neighbouring countries other than Pakistan. The traffic from Pakistan itself was closed on 16 March. Travel and registration for Sri Kartarpur Sahib was also suspended on this date.
On 4 March 2020, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Harsh Vardhan, announced compulsory screening of all international passengers arriving in India. He also stated that as of then, 589,000 people had been screened at airports, over one million screened at borders with Nepal and around 27,000 were under community surveillance.
Closedown and curfews
Over the month of March, multiple states across the country began shutting down schools, colleges, public facilities such as malls, gyms, cinema halls and other public places to contain the spread.
- On 15 March, Ministry of Culture closed all monuments and museums under Archaeological Survey of India.
- On 23 March, Chief Minister of Maharashtra ordered a statewide curfew and closure of state borders.
On 22 March, the Government of India announced complete lockdown in 82 districts in 22 states and Union Territories of country where confirmed cases were reported. 80 cities including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Chandigarh and Kolkata were put under lockdown. Some states sealed their borders barring inter-state movement.
After his consultation with CMs and administrators of states and UTs on 11 April, PM Narendra Modi announced lockdown extension till 3 May in his address to nation on 14 April, with conditional relaxations in areas with lower spread from 20 April.
On 30 May, the MHA announced that the ongoing lockdown would be further extended till 30 June in containment zones, with services resuming in a phased manner, starting from 8 June, in other zones. It is termed as "Unlock 1" and is stated to "have an economic focus".
- Red zone (Hotspots) – districts with high doubling rate and high number of active cases
- Orange zone (Non-hotspots) – districts with fewer cases
- Green zone – districts without confirmed cases or without new cases in last 21 days
Communication and Economic stimulus
– Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the video conference with SAARC nations, 15 March 2020.
On 19 March, during a 30-minute live telecast, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked all citizens to observe a 'Janata Curfew' (people's curfew) from 7 am to 9 pm on 22 March. During this curfew he asked everyone, except those involved in essential services, to stay at home. He also asked people to avoid routine checkups and elective surgeries to reduce the burden on the health system. He announced the formation of a COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force. To acknowledge the work being done by various sectors during the outbreak, he urged people to gather in front of their own doors, windows or balconies at 5 pm and applaud them for five minutes. State and local authorities were told to blow the siren to remind people about the same. On 24 March, Modi announced a nationwide lockdown from midnight of that day, for a period of 21 days. He also announced a ₹150 billion (US$2.1 billion) aid for the healthcare sector. This money would be used for developing testing facilities, PPEs, ICUs, Ventilators and for training medical workers. On 3 April, PM Modi addressed the nation to turn off the lights for nine minutes and lighting the candles on 5 April.
In an address on 14 April, PM Modi asked the citizens to follow seven steps to help in the fight against coronavirus, "Use homemade masks, Take care of elderly people, Protect jobs, Help the poor and needy, follow the guidelines set by Ministry of AYUSH to improve immunity and download the Aarogya Setu app to track your health."
In a live telecast on 12 May, PM Modi announced an economic package of ₹20 trillion (US$280 billion) for 'Atma Nirbhar Bharat' (self reliant India). The economic package is nearly 10% of the GDP. He added that Special economic package was for labourers, farmers, honest tax payers, MSMEs and cottage industries Modi added that the five main pillars India stands on are – economy, infrastructure, governing systems, vibrant democracy and supply chain.
On 14 March, the union government declared the pandemic as a "notified disaster" under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, enabling states to spend a larger part of funds from the State Disaster Response Fund to fight the virus.
The Ministry of External Affairs under Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Air India,the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy have been successful in evacuating many Indian nationals and certain foreign nationals from the virus-affected areas.
The Government of India began a mega evacuation of distressed Indian citizens from across the globe called "Vande Bharat Mission" in early May. It deployed several commercial jets, military transport planes and naval warships in what is set to be one of the biggest-ever peacetime repatriation exercise in history. In the first phase, around 14,800 citizens stranded in 13 countries would be brought back by 64 flights.
Ministry of Civil Aviation in coordination with the Ministry of External Affairs planned phase two of the Vande Bharat Mission to bring Indian citizens from nearly 31 countries around the world for which 149 flights will be deployed.
On 16 March, the father of a woman, whose husband had tested positive for coronavirus in Bengaluru, was booked by Agra police for allegedly misleading authorities about the whereabouts of his daughter, who was a suspected patient. Lucknow police lodged an FIR against Bollywood singer, Kanika Kapoor for alleged negligence in compliance of necessary directives post her return from London. On 21 March, a chemist was booked for allegedly selling N95 masks at over four times higher than the fixed price in Himachal Pradesh's Kangra district. A case was registered against a Coca-Cola plant in Himachal Pradesh for operating in violation of lockdown order. Hyderabad traffic police seized 2,480 vehicles for violating the lockdown. On 26 March, Delhi police arrested a 40-year-old man and seized his scooty for allegedly calling a northeastern woman "coronavirus" and spitting paan at her. On 27 March, an Infosys employee from Bengaluru was arrested for his social media post that encouraged people to venture out and spread the virus.
State government response
State governments took various measures to contain the spread of the virus.
On 26 February, India sent 15 tons of masks, gloves and other emergency medical equipment by an Indian Air Force jet to China. The medical supplies sent to China include one hundred thousand masks, five hundred thousand pairs of gloves, 75 infusion pumps, and 30 internal feeding pumps.
On 13 March, PM Narendra Modi proposed that SAARC nations jointly fight the pandemic, an idea that was welcomed by the leaders of Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. On 15 March, after a video conference of SAARC leaders, he allocated ₹74 crore (US$10 million) of funds classified as COVID-19 Emergency Fund for the SAARC countries.
On 4 April, the Government of India banned the export of hydroxychloroquine "without any exception", to stockpile supplies for domestic use. The United States, which imports half its supply of the drug from India and expects to use it for treating COVID-19 patients, grew concerned. The US President Donald Trump called Prime Minister Modi the next day, and hinted at possible retaliation in a press conference. India agreed to allow its export on "humanitarian grounds". Apart from the US, India had outstanding orders for hydroxychloroquine from some 30 countries, including Brazil, Spain, France, UK, Germany, Australia, the Gulf countries and the SAARC neighbours. The decision to partially lift the ban preceded President Trump's comment on possible retaliation.
On 11 April, India sent a team of 15 doctors and health care professionals to Kuwait to assist in its fight against coronavirus, following a telephone conversion between prime minister Modi and the Kuwaiti prime minister Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Sabah. Kuwait was facing 1,154 COVID-19 cases at this time.
On 16 April, India is sending 85 million hydroxychloroquine tablets and 500 million paracetamol tablets to 108 countries.In addition, 1 thousand tons of mixture have also been sent to make paracetamol tablets.
On 10 May the Indian government sent Naval ship INS Kesari carrying medical teams, essential medicines and food items to the Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles following separate requests for help in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology launched a smart phone application called Aarogya Setu to help in "contact tracing and containing the spread" of COVID-19 pandemic in the nation. The World Bank lauded the early deployment of such technology to combat the pandemic. Amid growing privacy and security concerns, the government released the source code of the app, making it open-source on 26 May. The Government has promoted voluntary adoption of the app in its guidelines and standard operating procedures.
On 12 May, the Prime Minister, in an address to the nation, said that the coronavirus crisis should be seen as an opportunity, laying emphasis on domestic products and "economic self-reliance", creation of an Atmanirbhar Bharat (transl. Self-reliant India) through Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (transl. Self-reliant India Mission). He announced a 20 trillion rupees stimulus package, equivalent to 10% of India's GDP, which was laid out in detail by the Finance Minister in a series of tranches.
Testing and countermeasures
|Tests per 1 million people||7,225|
|Percentage Tested Positive||7%|
|As of 6 July 2020|
The Union Health Ministry's war room and policy making team in New Delhi consists of the ministry's Emergency Medical Response Unit, the Central Surveillance Unit (IDSP), the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and experts from three government hospitals. They are part of policy decisions to decide how coronavirus should be tackled in the country. A cluster-containment strategy is mainly being adopted, similar to how India contained previous epidemics, as well as "breaking the chain of transmission". 15 labs across India led by the National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, are testing for the virus, with more labs being trained, as of early March. On 14 March 65 labs were named capable for testing for the virus (though as of 17 March not all are fully functional).
On 14 March, scientists at the National Institute of Virology isolated a strain of the novel coronavirus. By doing so, India became the fifth country to successfully obtain a pure sample of the virus after China, Japan, Thailand and the US. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said that isolation of the virus will help towards expediting the development of drugs, vaccines and rapid diagnostic kits in the country. NIV has shared two SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences with GISAID. On 16 April, China sent 650,000 testing kits to India but their use was discontinued in view of a very low accuracy (of just 5.4%). In May, National Institute of Virology introduced another antibody test kit ELISA for rapid testing, capable of processing 90 samples in a single run of 2.5 hours.
Initially, the labs tested samples only from those with a travel history to 12 countries designated as high-risk, or those who have come in contact with anyone testing positive for the coronavirus, or showing symptoms as per the government guidelines. On 20 March, the government decided to also include all pneumonia cases, regardless of travel or contact history after the country saw a sharp increase in the number of cases. The first and second confirmatory tests for the virus has been made free by the government. On 9 April, ICMR further revised the testing strategy and allowed testing of the people showing symptoms for a week in the hotspot areas of the country, regardless of travel history or local contact to a patient.
The Ministry of Health said that only 10 per cent of test capacity had been used per day till 15 March, claiming that the number of tests was enough. However experts thought they were not, saying that community transmission may go undetected without adequate testing. They also wanted to add more testing centres by inclusion of private laboratories. In mid-March the government authorised accredited private labs to test for the virus.
Expansion of tests
On 17 March, the Union Ministry of Health had decided to allow private pathology labs to test for COVID-19. The ministry official claimed that by allowing private labs, the work of testing can be doubled. The ministry said that NABL accredited laboratories may soon be allowed. Once set up, a person can get COVID-19 test done at a private lab after a qualified physician in a government facility recommends it. The ICMR has appealed to the private labs to offer the tests for free as the government labs do.
On 18 March, A top health ministry official said that a Swiss private company named Roche Diagnostics has been given the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency approval to conduct tests for coronavirus. The Indian regulator has given them a licence to conduct diagnostic tests of the virus on 17 March. The Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) was assessing giving another firm licence while two Indian diagnostic companies have also sought approval for the coronavirus testing kits developed by them. The government has also issued guidelines to cap the cost of sample testing by private labs at ₹4,500.
On 19 March, Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy stated that India could be facing a "tsunami of cases within a few weeks" as testing increases and the reason for the low number of confirmed cases currently is due to under-testing. He also said that according to mathematical models applied in the US or UK at least 20%–60% of the population will be affected. Applying the same models in India means that at the lower end of the estimate there could be 300 million cases of which 4–8 million could be severe.
111 additional labs for testing became functional on 21 March. On 24 March, Pune-based molecular diagnostic company Mylab Discovery Solutions became the first Indian company to have received validation for its RT-PCR tests from National Institute of Virology and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The test takes 2.5 hours and the company is looking to price it at around ₹1,200 (US$17), or Rs 80,000 for a 100 test kit.
In April, Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology of Delhi had developed low cost paper-strip test that could detect COVID-19 within an hour. Each test would cost ₹500 (US$7.00) and method could fulfill India's rapid need of testing.
On 13 April, ICMR advised pool testing in the low infection areas with a positivity rate less than 2% to increase the capacity of the testing and save resources. In this process maximum five samples are tested at once and samples are tested individually only if a pool tests positive. Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Uttar Pradesh have started doing pool testing.
On 14 April, ICMR and DGCI approved 18 new suppliers of test kits that included three Indian firms, bringing the total suppliers to 51.
On 16 April, 650,000 rapid antibody test and RNA extraction kits were dispatched from China, and over 2 million kits were to be sent in next 15 days. On 21 April, Health department of West Bengal alleged that large number of testing kits supplied by ICMR-NICED (National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases) were giving inconclusive results. ICMR-NICED admitted that there was problem in the kits and said that they are addressing the issue. While Rajasthan stopped using rapid testing kits as they were giving low accuracy of 5.4% in compared to expected 90% accuracy. Later, ICMR advised all states to stop using rapid testing kits for next two days until their on-ground teams validates these kits. Rapid antibody test kits were put on hold till further notice. The Chinese manufactures of the rapid testing kits said that the testing kits were approved by ICMR and the problem is not with the kits but with the way they were being used. However, Chinese manufacturers promised to cooperate with Indian authorities to resolve the issue. Amid this, ICMR asked states to return the faulty kits which will be sent back to the Chinese suppliers and cancelled the order of all remaining kits.
Testing community transmission
Testing for community transmission began on 15 March. 65 laboratories of the Department of Health Research and the Indian Council of Medical Research (DHR-ICMR) have started testing random samples of people who exhibit flu-like symptoms and samples from patients without any travel history or contact with infected persons. As of 18 March, no evidence of community transmission was found after results of 500 random samples tested negative. Between 15 February and 2 April, 5,911 SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Illnesses) patients were tested throughout the country of which, 104 tested positive (1.8%) in 20 states and union territories. About 40% of the identified patients did not have travel history or any history of contact with a positive patient. The ICMR advised to prioritise containment in the 36 districts of 15 states which had reported positive cases among SARI patients.
Research and treatment
In Rajasthan, a combination of anti-malaria, anti-swine flu and anti-HIV drugs resulted in the recovery of three patients in March. In the same month, the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Cipla launched a joint venture to develop anti-COVID-19 drugs. Another Indian firm, Stempeutics, announced plans to introduce a stem cell-based agent for treating critical COVID-19 patients.
In March, a startup incubated in Pune's SciTech Park introduced 'Airon', a negative ion generator capable of reducing a room's viral load by 99.7%. In April, funds for a number of preventive agents were released to initiate research.
According to estimates, India has around 40,000 ventilators, of which 8,432 are with the public sector. Various Indian PSUs, firms and startups, including DRDO and ISRO, have since repurposed their production lines to manufacture general PPEs, full body suits and ventilators. They are also designing low-cost or mobile medical equipment. The focus was to increase the production of low-cost, compact and portable ventilators that could cater to multiple patients at a time. This led to the creation of some of the world's smallest and cheapest ventilators. The government aims to double the current capacity of ventilators by June 2020 with the assistance from PSUs. The government has also requested major private automakers to explore the possibility of manufacturing ventilators at their plants. Maruti Suzuki, in collaboration with AgVa Healthcare, will supply 10,000 ventilators till end of the May. From nil in near past, India was producing around 200,000 PPE kits and 250,000 N95 masks per day in May 2020. By second half of month, India had emerged as world's second largest producer of PPE body coveralls.
The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology has been working on genome sequencing of COVID-19. In May, CCMB also started a partnership with a private company Eyestem Research to grow novel coronavirus strain in human lung epithelial cells for research and trials of anti-viral drugs.
Pune-based Serum Institute of India announced that it would apply for clinical trials of certain strains from Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) in April. As per company president Adar Poonawalla, a vaccine for COVID-19 will be delivered within a year. However, it may not be effective on 20 to 30% people. Two other companies are also trying to develop a vaccine: Zydus Cadila, which is replicating viral vector and developing a DNA plasmid vaccine, and Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with US based FluGen, which is expecting the first clinical trials of a nasal vaccine by late 2020. As of late February, the Serum Institute of India had begun animal trials of vaccine candidates, followed by Zydus Cadila in March. ICMR partnered with Bharat Biotech in May to develop COVID vaccine completely in India. Till May, there were over 30 candidates of COVID-19 vaccine in development in India, many of which were already in pre-clinical tests. Four vaccines were expected to enter fully clinical trials in August–October. Per reports emerged in July, ICMR was preparing to launch BBV152 COVID vaccine, India's first COVID-19 vaccine on August 15.
On 12 April, the ICMR invited health institutions and hospitals to participate in trials of convalescent plasma therapy and plasma exchange therapy. Later, the ICMR submitted a list of such institutes to the DCGI to start trials, which the DCGI approved. Several states were allowed by ICMR to start clinical trials of the plasma therapy. In Delhi, a 49-year-old man who was on ventilator support became the first patient in the country, who recovered through plasma therapy in April. Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal said that the initial results of the plasma therapy treatment on four patients gave positive and encouraging results, adding that they had decided to conduct it on three more patients. However, the ICMR later stated that there is no robust evidence to support convalescent plasma therapy as a routine therapy, describing it is as an emerging and experimental therapy. It has some risks, which include life-threatening allergies and lung injuries. The ICMR have since started multi-centre clinical trials to ensure the treatment's safety and efficacy in treating COVID-19 patients across the country.
On 19 March, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the closure of all restaurants in the capital by 31 March in view of the ever increasing case of coronavirus. He said that there will be a ban on eating in restaurants but food delivery will continue. He also said that 20 or more people will not be allowed to unite anywhere in the state. On 20 March, in Lucknow all restaurants, hotels, sweet shops have been closed till 31 March.
On 20 March, Delhi government announced that all malls in Delhi will close with only vegetable, grocery and medicine shops remaining open. Shops in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur will remain closed till 31 March. During this period, the essential services will continue. Medical services will be available.
On 22 March, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh has said that in view of coronavirus, the state has ordered lockdown till 31 March. All essential government services will continue and shops for essential goods such as food, medicines etc. will remain open. The chief minister of Rajasthan Ashok Gehlot said public vehicle will be banned till 31 March, along with all the malls and shops will remain closed.
On 16 March, the union government declared a countrywide lock-down of schools and colleges. On 18 March, CBSE released revised guidelines for examination centres. This includes maintaining a distance of at least 1 metre between the students taking the exam with a class not having more than 24 students. If the rooms of the examination centres are small, divide the students and make them sit in different rooms. On 19 March, CBSE and JEE main examinations were postponed till 31 March.
On 20 March, Maharashtra government cancelled examinations for class 1 to 8 and promoted the students to the next classes, whereas examinations for class 9 and 11 were postponed till 15 April. Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education postponed board exams for class 10 and 12 and asked school principals to promote or detain students of class 5 to 8 based on their performance in previous terms. Board exams of class 10 and 12 were postponed in Kerala. Assam government cancelled all exams till 31 March. The Union Public Service Commission also postponed the interview for the Civil Services Examination 2019 to be held from 23 March to 3 April. The SSC exams in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry were postponed to 15 April.
On 2 March, the BSE SENSEX witnessed a flash crash on the back of Union Health Ministry's announcement of two new confirmed cases. A UN report estimated a trade impact of US$348 million on India due to the outbreak, making India one of the 15 worst affected economies across the world. Asian Development Bank estimated that the outbreak could cause losses of up to US$29.9 billion to India's economy. On 9 March, The BSE SENSEX closed 1,942 points lower at 35,635 while the NSE NIFTY 50 was down by 538 points to 10,451.
On 12 March, Indian stock markets suffered their worst crash since June 2017 after WHO's declaration of the outbreak as a pandemic. The BSE SENSEX dropped 8.18 per cent or 2,919 points which was its lowest in 23 months while the NIFTY dropped 9 per cent or 950 points.
The International Indian Film Academy Awards, planned to take place on 27 March, was cancelled. Cinema halls were shut down by most state governments. Film bodies decided to stop the production of films, TV shows and web series till 31 March. On 25 March, all video streaming services, jointly decided to offer only SD quality content on cellular networks. They also decided to lower the resolution to 480p to lower the stress on telecom networks throughout the 21-day lockdown during which there would be an unprecedented surge in mobile internet consumption since people were confined to their homes. The Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) said that four major broadcasting networks in the country have decided to waive all fees for four channels for two months. The IBF is an organisation promoting the Indian television industry. In a statement, the foundation said that Sony Pal, run by Sony, Star Utsav, run by Star India, Viacom18's Colors Rishtey run by colours and Zee Anmol run by Zee TV will be available for two months free to all viewers in the country. This offer is for all DTH and cable networks.
On 17 March, it was announced that all the historic buildings in the country would remain closed till 31 March. According to Union Tourism Minister Prahlad Patel, the Taj Mahal, Red Fort and Qutub Minar and all the National Monuments and Museums under the Archaeological Department of India will remain closed till 31 March. The Statue of Unity will be closed to visitors till 25 March.
During the lockdown, many religious institutions started live-streaming to help devotees worship from home.
However, many revered temples and shrines, which attracted lakhs of devotees, started imposing entry restrictions as the infection rates increased. Siddhivinayak Temple, Mumbai, Vaishno Devi, Ganga Ghat (Varanasi), Har Ki Pauri, Jagannath Temple, Puri, Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala, and the Ramanathaswamy Temple were closed to devotees even before the national lockdown. Similarly, on 26 March, the Makkah Masjid, Hyderabad, was closed to devotees. Many Christian churches suspended in-person mass and offered worship for their congregants through livestreaming, radio and television.
The Government announced the opening of religious places beginning 8 June under "Unlock 1" and also released detailed guidelines for subsequent operations on 4 June.
The 2020 ISSF World Cup, which was to commence on 15 March in New Delhi, was postponed. The Indian Open badminton tournament which was scheduled to be held in New Delhi from 24 to 29 March was suspended until 12 April.
India's FIFA World Cup qualification match on 26 March against Qatar in Bhubaneswar was postponed. The All India Football Federation suspended all matches of I-League and I-League 2nd Division from 15 March. On 14 March, the 2020 Indian Super League Final was played behind closed doors.
On 13 March, the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced that the opening of 2020 Indian Premier League was postponed from 29 March to 15 April. On 16 April, BCCI suspended the tournament indefinitely due to the pandemic.
IndiGo cancelled its Delhi-Istanbul and Chennai – Kuala Lumpur flights starting 18 March to prevent international travel from Turkey and Malaysia. This ban will continue till 31 March. On 17 March 2020, Go Air suspended its international flights till further notice. On 19 March, the Government of India announced that no international flights will be allowed to land in India from 22 March. On 23 March, the union government announced the suspension of all domestic flights in the country starting 25 March.
On 14 March, Western and Central Railways removed curtains and blankets from AC coaches. On 17 March, Western Railways hiked platform ticket charges from Rs. 10 to Rs. 50 across 250 stations. Central Railways cancelled 23 trains. On 19 March, Tejas Express running between Lucknow Junction to New Delhi and Varanasi to Indore will remain cancelled till 31 March. On 20 March, Delhi Metro was scheduled to remain closed on 22 March due to Janata Curfew. On 22 March, metro services across India were suspended till 31 March. On 21 March, in view of Janata curfew, Indian Railways announced the cancellation of 3,700 trains across the country. On 22 March, the union government cancelled all train services in the country baring goods trains, that is around 12,500 trains, and all non-essential passenger transport including interstate transport buses. IRCTC suspended the bookings for 3 private trains till 30 April. After the Prime Minister Modi extended the nationwide lockdown till 3 May. the Indian Railways not only extended the suspension of all its passenger trains during the period but also suspended all ticket bookings till further notice.
On 19 March, bus services between the cities of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh have been postponed from 21 to 31 March 2020. Punjab government imposed a ban on public transport including buses, auto rickshaws and tempos from 21 March. Public transport including buses, mini buses, maxi cabs and auto services were banned in Srinagar.
Exodus of migrant workers
With factories and workplaces shut down, many migrant workers were left with no livelihood. They thus decided to walk hundreds of kilometres to go back to their native villages, accompanied by their families in many cases. The central government then announced that it had asked state governments to set up immediate relief camps for the migrant workers returning to their native states, and later issued orders protecting the rights of the migrants. In its report to the Supreme Court of India on 30 March, the central government stated that the migrant workers, apprehensive about their survival, moved in the panic created by fake news that the lockdown would last for more than three months. In early May, the central government finally permitted the Indian Railways to launch "Shramik Special" trains for the migrant workers and others stranded, but this move had a few complications. On 26 May, the Supreme Court admitted that the problems of the migrants had still not been solved and ordered the Centre and States to provide free food, shelter and transport to stranded migrant workers.
The lockdown disrupted food supplies and threatened to trigger a food crisis. By the first week of April, essential industries such as growing, harvesting and food deliveries were allowed to operate.
On 19 March, Kerala chief minister (CM) Pinarayi Vijayan announced a stimulus package of ₹20,000 crore (US$2.8 billion) to help the state overcome both the COVID-19 epidemic and economic hardship caused by it. On 21 March, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath announced ₹1,000 (US$14) to all daily wage labourers. On 22 March, Punjab CM Amarinder Singh announced ₹3,000 (US$42) to all registered construction workers. Telangana CM K. Chandrashekar Rao announced that white ration card holders will be provided ₹1,500 (US$21) per family through ration shops. On 26 March, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced an economic relief package of ₹1.7 lakh crore (US$24 billion), which would be a mix of food security and direct cash transfer, primarily for migrant labourers and daily wage labourers. Prime Minister's National Relief Fund received several donations – ₹3,381 crore (US$470 million) from the Central Reserve Police Force, and a month's salary from Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and NCP's MPs. NCP President Sharad Pawar announced that his party's MLAs would donate their one month's salary to Maharashtra CM's Reief Fund. RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das permitted all banks to provide a moratorium on all loans for three months without having to worry about NPAs and keeping their books healthy. He also laid down various measures for injecting ₹3.74 lakh crore (US$52 billion) liquidity into the system. Saibaba Sansthan Trust, Shirdi donated ₹51 crore (US$7.2 million) to Maharashtra CM's relief fund. The Union Government released ₹4,431 crore (US$620 million) pay off the pending wages of daily wage labourers who come under MGNREGA scheme. In Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal announced that if a doctor, nurse or hygiene worker dies during treatment, their family will be provided ₹10 million (US$140,000). Karnataka chief minister B. S. Yeddyurappa announced ₹16.1 billion (US$230 million) relief for unorganised sectors including flower growers, washermen and women, barbers, construction workers, auto and cab drivers, MSMEs, and weavers.
PM CARES Fund
On 28 March, the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) was set up to provide relief to the affected people. Several large business groups and PSUs contributed to the relief fund. A sum of ₹3,100 crore was announced as the first allocation from the fund on 13 May.
On 21 March, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal increased free ration from 5 kilograms to 7.5 kilograms for the 7.2 million people who are dependent on the ration scheme. On 22 March, Karnataka CM BS Yediyurappa announced two months of free ration for all the people. Andhra Pradesh CM Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy announced free ration for the poor. Telangana CM announced that white ration card holders will be provided with 12 kilograms of free rice per person (against a monthly supply of 6 kilograms per card person) through ration shops. On 23 March, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar announced one month of free ration for all ration card holders.
On 25 March, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar announced that 80 crore people would be given wheat at the rate of Rs 2 per kg, and rice at Rs 3 per kg. He also said that three months ration advance would be given.
On 21 April, Arvind Kejriwal announced that 1 crore people would be given free rations in Delhi.
Masks and supplies
On 25 March, Vivo said that they would be donating 100,000 surgical and 5,000 N95 masks to Maharashtra government. On 26 March, former Indian cricketers, Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Pathan, made a donation of 4,000 masks.
Premier universities in India such as National Institute of Technology Tiruchirappalli, National Institute of Technology Karnataka, National Institute of Technology Warangal, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur and Indian Institute of Technology Hyderabad had prepared hand sanitisers and in their laboratories and started distributing to people.
Tablighi Jamaat event
The Nizamuddin faction of the Tablighi Jamaat held a religious congregational program (Ijtema) in Nizamuddin West, Delhi in March. The Delhi Government's order against organising seminars, conferences or any big event (beyond 200 people) was apparently ignored by the organisation, and the Delhi Police also failed to enforce it. The gathering emerged as one of India's major coronavirus hotspots. The entire Nizamuddin West area was cordoned off by the police as of 30 March, and medical camps were set up. On 18 April, the Central Government stated that 4,291 cases (or 29.8% of the total 14,378 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India) were linked to the Tablighi Jamaat, and these cases were spread across 23 states and Union Territories. As of 4 April, about 22,000 people who came in contact with the Tablighi Jamaat missionaries had to be quarantined.
Hyderabad witnessed panic buying throughout 20 and 21 March. Panic buying of milk and other dairy products was also reported. Online grocery delivery service Grofers also witnessed panic buying across states.
Retailers and consumer goods firms saw their average daily sales more than double on 19 March as consumers rushed to buy essentials ahead of PM Narendra Modi's address to the nation. In response to this, Modi assured the citizens that there was enough food and ration supplies and advised them against panic buying.
Escape of suspected infected people
On 20 March, the case of a 26-year-old woman suspected of being infected with coronavirus was reported to have fled the hospital in Punjab. The woman, who hails from Mohali, recently returned from the US and was brought to a government hospital in Chandigarh.
Misinformation and discrimination
Despite evidence to the contrary, a viral rumour spread online alleging that only people who eat meat were affected by coronavirus, causing "#NoMeat_NoCoronaVirus" to trend on Twitter. To curb these rumours and combat declining sales, some poultry industry associations held a "Chicken and Egg Mela" in Hyderabad. Several Telangana state ministers were in attendance and ate some of the free eggs and fried chicken being distributed at the event to show their support for the industry.
Muslim cleric Ilyas Sharafuddin has stated that Allah has punished the Chinese by unleashing coronavirus on them for their brutal crackdown on Uighur Muslims. The Chinese consulate in Kolkata also condemned similar statements reportedly made by Dilip Ghosh, president of the West Bengal unit of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
Some politicians like Swami Chakrapani and Suman Haripriya claimed that drinking cow urine and applying cow dung on the body can cure coronavirus. WHO's chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan rubbished such claims and criticised these politicians for spreading misinformation.
Reports of harassment of people from Northeast India, which shares a border with Tibet and Myanmar, in Chennai, Pune and Hyderabad have been reported following the outbreak. Students from Kirori Mal College in Delhi, Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and other institutes in Kolkata have also faced harassment and filed complaints with authorities.
Misinformation that the government is spreading "anti-corona" drug in the country during Janata curfew went viral on social media. Film actor Mohanlal and many others shared the fake news that, the vibration generated by clapping together during Janata curfew will kill the virus. One viral message says that the lifetime of coronavirus is only 12 hours and staying home for 14 hours during Janata curfew break the chain of transmission. Another message claimed that observing Janata curfew will result in the reduction of coronavirus cases by 40%. Tweet by Rajinikanth claiming that a 14-hour stay home can stop the coronavirus disease going from "stage 2" to "stage 3" was classified as misinformation and was taken down by Twitter for violating community guidelines. Amitabh Bachchan was heavily criticised for one of his tweets, which claimed vibrations from clapping, blowing conch shells as part of Sunday's Janata Curfew would have reduced or destroyed coronavirus potency as it was ‘amavasya’, the darkest day of the month.
Some doctors and medical workers were evicted from their homes over fears they may be carrying coronavirus. In cases reported across the country, healthcare professionals described the growing stigma they are facing from their neighbours and landlords, resulting in many being refused taxis, barricaded from their own homes, or made homeless.
In March 2020, foreigners from countries such as UK, US and Israel were facing hostility, including evictions from rented homes.
The Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi and the resulting hotspot triggered Islamophobic reactions and increased communal tension. Islamophobic hashtags began circulating shortly after the news broke in late March.
Rajasthan Congress MLA Bharat Singh Kundanpur in a letter to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot claimed that "when coronavirus can be removed by washing hands with alcohol, then drinking alcohol will surely remove virus from the throat." His claim was rubbished by several health experts and doctors.
Three Sikh men in Chembur, Mumbai were brutally attacked by a stranger for asking him to wear a mask while in public places as ordered by the government. One man was later admitted to a nearby hospital. This incident gave rise to Sikh-Muslim communal tension in the area. The accused was arrested by Mumbai Police.
Ramdev claimed that one can treat coronavirus by pouring mustard oil through the nose, making the virus flowing into the stomach, resulting in its ultimate death by the acid present in the stomach. He also claimed that if a person holds his breath for a minute, it means s/he is not suffering from any type of coronavirus, symptomatic or asymtomatic. Both these claims were found to be false.
When migrant workers returned to their hometowns and villages following the loss of employment in cities, they were treated with class bias. In some cases, they were hosed down with disinfectants or soap solution. They were feared to be carrying coronavirus from the urban areas where they had been employed. Since many of them belonged to the lower castes, they had to face caste slurs.
A report titled "India: Media’s Crackdown during COVID-19 Lockdown" was published on 15th June, 2020. Many sources state that at least 55 journalists have been heavily cracked down on for reporting on COVID-19, with FIRs being filed against them under various Acts.  The charges have been levied for reporting starvation faced by migrant workers, the failure of the administration to supply rations, mismanagement and negligence at quarantine centres, or any other reporting that is construed as 'anti-government'.
Total confirmed cases, active cases, recoveries and deaths
Total confirmed cases Active Cases Recoveries Deaths
Daily new cases
New cases per day 7-day average of new cases per day
Daily new deaths
New deaths per day 7-day average of new deaths per day
Total samples tested
Daily samples tested
New tests per day
States and union territories without cases
No confirmed cases have been reported in the following states and union territories:
Confirmed Indian cases abroad
On 4 April 2020, it was reported that 15 Indians died abroad due to COVID-19. The 15 dead people included 6 in the United States, 5 in Italy, 2 in United Arab Emirates and one each in Egypt and Iran. It was reported on 6 April that four Indians who belonged to the state of Kerala, died in abroad due to COVID-19. The four people were 54-year-old nurse in Ireland, 21-year-old student in New York, 51-year-old employee in Queens, New York and 41-year-old driver in Saudi Arabia. On 11 April, it was reported that over 1,500 Indian Americans were infected and more than 40 Indian Americans and Indian nationals died due to the disease. The Ministry of External Affairs have confirmed that there are 3,336 confirmed Indians cases abroad and 25 have died as of 16 April across 53 countries. On 24 April, the NHS revealed that at least 420 people of Indian origin died due to the disease. On 26 April, officials confirmed that the confirmed cases of Indians abroad has increased to 6,300 with 40 deaths.
As of 19 May, the NHS England reported that 695 members of the non-white community categorised as ‘Indian’ died due to the disease. On 25 May, it was reported that a 50-year-old Indian school teacher of Hindi subject who worked at a school in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, died due to the disease.
On 7 June, it was reported that a 61-year-old Indian doctor, who worked at a hospital in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, died. According to the study of the University of Edinburgh, Indians and South Asians in the UK are likely to die due to COVID-19. As of 25 June, 763 people of Indian origin died in the UK, according to the NHS.
|Republic of Ireland||Unknown||1||N/A|||
|United States of America||Unknown||>40||1,500|||
|United Arab Emirates||238||4||238|
|*Total of all 53 countries where Confirmed Indian cases reported till 26 April 2020|
India's international rankings
|1||Risk||Corona virus import||17th|||
|Relaxing lock downs||15th|||
|Average daily positivity rate||6th|||
|15 June 2020||Per million population||138th|||
|Serious or Critical||2nd|||
|1 June 2020||Active||5th|||
|26 May 2020||Daily Increase||3rd|||
|14 June 2020||Days taken to reach 250,000||4th|||
|8||Supplying medical aid|
|Citizens rank their govts’||3rd|||
|15||Media||2020 World Press Freedom Index||142nd//180 (drops 2 places)|||
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to COVID-19 pandemic in India.|
- COVID-19 on MyGov.in – Government's portal for COVID-19
- "District Map of CoViD-19 in India". fieldmaps.in. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
- COVID-19 pandemic in India playlist on YouTube – COVID-19 Management videos by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
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A handy guide from The Hindu on understanding the coronavirus pandemic and staying protected against COVID-19
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