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, an Islamic preacher from the Hyderpora neighbourhood of Srinagar, who tested positive three days ago, died this morning at the Government Chest Disease Hospital in the city. He had recently travelled around the country, visiting mosques in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh's Deoband before returning home on March 16.
"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.
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.— Mayor of Srinagar (@MayorofS) March 26, 2020
I also salute the brave doctors at CD Hospital for their efforts.
Let's do our bit and help #BreakTheChain and #StayHomeStaySafe.
The entire neighbourhood in the city has been sealed and contact tracing is underway, amid concerns alleged mishandling of the case may have led to others being infected.
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, with one person having been discharged after treatment.
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.
Maharashtra has also discharged one person from hospital after treatment.
The COVID-19 virus has infected over 600 people across the country and been linked to the deaths of at least 13 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.
Restrictions on movement have also been imposed in Maharashtra, with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announcing a curfew earlier this week.
"Today I am compelled to announce a statewide curfew. People were not listening and we are compelled," he said, adding, "We will not allow it spread to districts unaffected, as of now".
Centre and state governments have assured that the supply of essential goods - such as bread, milk, fruits, vegetables, rice and other items - will not be affected during the lockdown as, moments after the it was announced, people were seen rushing to stores to stock up.
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.
With input from PTI