India's coronavirus cases at 107 as Modi plans regional response

Passengers wearing face masks arrive at the platform after disembarking from the "Maitree Express" train in Kolkata, India, on March 14, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India on Sunday (March 15) reported that the number of coronavirus infections had risen to 107, an increase of 23 from the day before, with a western state home to the country's financial capital the worst hit.

Data from India's federal health ministry showed that there were now 31 confirmed coronavirus cases in Maharashtra state, where local authorities have closed down schools, colleges and malls in most cities, including in the financial hub of Mumbai.

"The number could go up as we are waiting for test reports of people who were in close contact with patients who have tested positive," a state health official said, declining to be named since he wasn't authorised to speak to the media.

India, a country of 1.3 billion people, has so far fared better than elsewhere in Asia, Europe and North America, with only two deaths because of the virus.

But experts say India's already overstretched medical system would struggle to deal with a major rise in serious cases.

India has already suspended most visas to the country and shut many land borders with neighbouring countries in a wide-reaching attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is due to talk with other South Asian leaders via video conferencing later on Sunday to coordinate a regional response to the crisis.

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