00:57 GMT03 June 2020
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    New Delhi (Sputnik): COVID-19 cases in India have been mounting with 50 deaths and 1,965 positive cases, according to the Health and Family Welfare Ministry. The death toll, as well as infections, spiked after positive cases were reported from Mumbai's slums and after a gathering of Islamic preachers in Delhi.

    The federal Health and Family Welfare Ministry said on Thursday that it has identified 20 existing and 22 potential hotspots of infection across the country. The ministry, however, denied any evidence of community transmission.

    “Hotspots are identified after a Coronavirus positive case is found in an area. We take the containment measures as per protocol. If more cases are found in that area then we increase our intervention. The figure is widely varying,” Lav Agrawal, Joint Secretary in the federal Health and Family Welfare Ministry said on Thursday.

    Agarwal added more positive cases are expected in the coming days as testing is underway of people linked to a religious gathering in New Delhi. A total of 400 people who attended the gathering have tested positive in different states.

    The Home Ministry has identified 9,000 members and contacts of Tablighi Jamaat, which literally means Outreach Society – an Islamic missionary movement.

    "The government has identified Tablighi Jamat members and their contacts, and placed them in quarantine. Out of these 9,000 people, 1,306 were foreigners and the rest Indians,” said Punya Salila Srivastava, Joint Secretary in the federal Home Ministry.

    Talking about reports of doctors resigning from a Delhi hospital over the lack of personal protection equipment (PPE), Agrawal said orders for 15 million pieces of PPE have been placed and several consignments have already been supplied to states.

    "The problem has been solved to some extent. We've placed orders for more than 15 million PPEs and supply has started. PPEs have also been sent to the States. We have also placed the orders for more than 10 million N95 masks," Agrawal said.

    Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video-conference on Thursday with State Chiefs to formulate a common strategy to deal with the pandemic.

    Modi told the State Chiefs that, “coronavirus has attacked people of all faiths, ideology and sects; therefore it is first important to defeat coronavirus to save our faith, ideology and belief.”

    The Prime Minister also appealed to all religious sects and spiritual leaders to come together in the battle against coronavirus and said that all the religious heads should call an immediate meeting at various levels and talk to people to create awareness. 

    Meanwhile, in another concerning development, Asia's largest slum Dharavi, which is located in Mumbai , has reported its first case of COVID-19. The man, 56, had no travel history. Police have sealed the building and cordoned off the area. Eight of the 10 members of his family have now been put under quarantine. 

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