World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Wednesday (April 1) praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre for announcing Rs 1.74 lakh crore package for the poor to combat the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
Addressing a press conference, the WHO chief said that several countries across the globe have announced lockdown and are asking people to stay at home in order to curb the spread of coronavirus but this move could affect the poorest and most vulnerable people badly.
"I have called on governments to put in place social welfare measures to ensure vulnerable people have food and other life essentials during this crisis. In India, for example, Prime Minister Modi has announced a $24 billion package, including free food rations for 800 million disadvantaged people, cash transfers to 204 million poor women and free cooking gas for 80 million households for the next 3 months. Many developing countries will struggle to implement social welfare programs of this nature. For those countries, debt relief is essential to enable them to take care of their people and avoid economic collapse," said WHO chief Ghebreyesus.
The WHO chief also expressed deep concern over the near-exponential escalation of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, with the number of deaths due to the deadly virus doubling in a week.
Ghebreyesus urged people across the world to join hands to defeat the coronavirus. "As we enter the fourth month since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, I am deeply concerned about the rapid escalation and global spread of infection," he told a virtual news conference.
"Over the past five weeks, we have witnessed a near exponential growth in the number of new cases, reaching almost every country. "The number of deaths has more than doubled in the past week. In the next few days we will reach one million confirmed cases and 50,000 deaths," added the WHO chief.
Meanwhile, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India has risen to 1,965 on Thursday (April 2, 2020) while the death toll due to the deadly virus has touched 50, according to the latest figures provided by the Union Health Ministry.
As of now, the number of active COVID-19 cases stands at 1,764, of which 150 people were either cured or discharged and one migrated to another country, it said. As per the Health Ministry's updated data, nine fresh deaths were reported - four from Maharashtra, three from Madhya Pradesh and one each from Andhra Pradesh and Punjab.