Police personnel enquire during nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against coronavirus in Hyderabad. File/AFP
The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases in South Asia neared 6,000 on Saturday, even as authorities in some cities tightened restrictions on movement and warned lockdowns could be extended in a bid to rein in the pandemic.
"If people don't obey the rules seriously and cases continue to rise, then there may be no option but to extend the lockdown," Rajesh Tope, the health minister of Maharashtra state which includes the financial hub Mumbai, told Reuters. "It could be extended in Mumbai and urban areas of Maharashtra by two weeks."
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said this week the country will pull out of the planned three-week lockdown in a phased manner. India has been hardest hit by the disease in South Asia with some 2,902 cases, of which 68 have died.
Maharashtra has 516 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — and 26 people have died.
While the government does plan to review the lockdown, set to end on April 14, three senior officials told Reuters this will depend on an assessment of the situation in each state, and lockdowns and restrictions would be extended in districts where the coronavirus case spread has continued.
Public transport in large metros such as Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi, may only be restored in a phased manner days after the lockdown ends, said the officials, who asked not to be named as the plans were still under discussion.
One of the new cases was detected in the capital, New Delhi, while the other was in the southern state of Telangana, the government said in a statement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a televised address to the nation, said the challenge was to stop the virus from spreading to new parts of the country, but held out hope that some restrictions could be eased next week in the least-affected areas to allow essential activities.
The Health Ministry on Saturday put the total number of cases in India at 173,763 with 4,971 deaths. The total infections included 86,422 active cases and 82,369 recoveries.
Sheikha Latifa said on Instagram, “We were blessed today with a baby girl, Sheikha Bint Faisal Al Qasimi.”
Police in the western province of Makkah said the attacker was a Saudi, but it did not give the nationality of the guard, who they said had sustained minor injuries.
Christian Bolok, who was in his mid-30s, was trying to grab a rooster when one of its gaffs — small steel blades attached to a rooster's legs — cut a gaping wound on his left leg and hit his femoral artery, provincial Governor Edwin Ongchuan said.