India

A large religious gathering involving around 8000 people in New Delhi sparked a manhunt across India for suspected coronavirus cases after being linked to dozens of infections and at least ten deaths. The gathering emerged as one of India's major virus hotspots after thousands flocked to an Islamic religious centre in the Nizamuddin West neighbourhood of Delhi.

Some returned home to other states after the gathering, but many remained in the vicinity, saying they were trapped because public transport had been shut down due to the virus. Late on Monday and Tuesday, the warren of lanes near the religious centre – near several prominent Sufi shrines – were taped off by officials in hazmat suits.

The overall number of Covid-19 cases in India crossed the 1,000 mark at the beginning of the week, even as the government said there were no plans to prolong the three-week nationwide lockdown.

The total number of positive cases had climbed to 1,251 by 31 March, according to the federal Health Ministry. Of these, 32 had died.

Pakistan

Pakistan's government has called on authorities not to treat coronavirus patients as "criminals" while enforcing social-distancing measures to control the spread of virus.

"Coronavirus patients will no longer be treated as criminals," Planning Minister Asad Umar told the press on 31 March, adding that this approach discouraged people from coming forward to be tested.

Umar's intervention followed reports that Pakistani police and other law enforcement agencies had been tracking down anyone with a history of international travel. Some had been forced into quarantine, regardless of whether coronavirus had been confirmed, the reports said.

Pakistan has seen a steady increase in coronavirus cases over the past week despite a nationwide lockdown. On Tuesday, Health Minister Zafar Mirza confirmed 1,865 cases and 25 deaths from Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The country had a further 15,709 suspected cases, with more than 8,000 currently in quarantine, the ministry said.

Indonesia

Indonesia will release about 30,000 prisoners early, to curb the spread of the coronavirus in prisons, the country's Justice Ministry said on Tuesday.

Indonesia recorded 1,528 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, with 136 deaths, the Health Ministry said. The capital, Jakarta, is the epicentre of the outbreak, with 747 confirmed cases and 83 deaths.

(AP/Reuters/AFP)

More on this topic