- Hundreds gathered in Madhya Pradesh's Sagar district on Tuesday
- Madhya Pradesh is one of the states most badly hit by coronavirus
- PM Modi has been repeatedly urging people to maintain social distancing
Amid an inexorable and worrying rise in coronavirus cases in India - the number of COVID-19 cases rose by 3,525 over the past 24 hours, government data showed this morning, hundreds gathered in Madhya Pradesh's Sagar district on Tuesday, in blatant violation of social distancing protocols, to celebrate the arrival of a Jain monk.
Madhya Pradesh is one of the states most badly hit by the novel coronavirus outbreak, with 3,986 confirmed cases and 225 deaths linked to the infectious virus. The entire country, which has reported 74,281 cases and 2,415 deaths so far, has been locked down for nearly two months with Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeatedly urging people to maintain "do gaz doori " to break the chain of transmission.
However, no social distancing, attempted or otherwise, was in evidence in the city of Banda yesterday, with visuals from news agency showing thousands of men and women swarming around the monk Pramansagar and his retinue.
"Directions have been given to investigate and take action against the organisers," Praveen Bhuria, Additional Superindent of Police (Sagar), said, adding that both social distancing norms and orders banning large gatherings (under Section 144), were apparently violated.
The Sagar district has recorded 10 COVID-19 cases and one death so far.
Violation of social distancing norms have occurred across the country, prompting Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij to call for this to be made a criminal offence.
If measures like social distancing and wearing of masks are not strictly followed, it may lead to a spike in cases, putting pressure on the healthcare system, Mr Vij was quoted by news agency PTI.
Meanwhile, the Madhya Pradesh government has sought suggestions from the people of the state regarding a phased lifting of the lockdown. Relaxations in restrictions have already been announced by the centre, particularly with reference to re-starting select economic activity and commercial establishments in non-containment areas around the country.
On Tuesday Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan called for suggestions on easing of lockdown for agriculture, industries and public transport and spaces.
Citizens can provide suggestions on the state government's mygov.in portal till 4 pm.
Chief Minister Chouhan was one of several state leaders to meet with PM Modi over a six-hour video call on Tuesday, in which post-lockdown strategies were discussed.
With input from ANI, PTI