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NEW DELHI : The number of coronavirus infections in India inched closer to 3,000 on Friday, with a surge in Delhi, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. The sudden spike was traced to the event organized by the Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi’s Nizamuddin last month.

With 555 new cases recorded in the past 24 hours, India’s covid-19 count shot up to 2,978, with 78 fatalities. According to the government, 190 people have so far recovered. At present, 2,710 patients are being treated in hospitals across the country.

The past week witnessed a spike in covid-19 cases, shooting up from around 1,000 cases on 30 March to 2,000 on 1 April.

The surge came despite limited testing, primarily due to a shortage of kits.

At least 8,000 samples have been tested as on Thursday. Also, more than 66,000 samples have already been tested so far in India, said Manoj V. Murhekar, director of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Epidemiology.

According to the government, most new cases were reported among those who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat event, or people who had come in direct contact with the participants, who had left Delhi to reach their hometowns across India.

The religious gathering of over 2,400 people had taken place at the Markaz in Nizamuddin on 13-15 March, against the government’s directions.

Delhi recorded 93 new cases, taking the total number of cases in the national capital to 386. Two-thirds of the total cases in the national capital were from those who had attended the religious gathering, the Delhi government said in its bulletin on Thursday. The city state’s death toll rose to six, with half of them linked to the religious group.

Delhi now has the second highest case load among states and Union territories, after Maharashtra. Tamil Nadu and Telangana added 75 cases, each, taking their tally to 309 and 225, respectively. Currently, 186 active positive patients have been housed in hospitals across Telangana.

To tackle the rapid spread of the pandemic, the Telangana government has upgraded the state-owned Gandhi Hospital into a covid-19 treatment centre.

Andhra Pradesh reported its first death, which was also linked to the Tablighi Jamaat. A 55-year-old man died of covid-19 on Friday. He had gone to the Vijayawada General Hospital on 30 March, and passed away after an hour. His samples tested positive for covid-19.

According to a media bulletin from the AP government, the deceased’s son had reached Vijayawada from New Delhi, most likely after attending the religions congregation at the Markaz in Nizamuddin on 17 March. On 31 March he tested positive for covid-19. It is likely that the father got the infection from his son. The total number of cases in Andhra Pradesh rose to 162.

Maharashtra recorded 67 new cases on Friday. The state has been witnessing a sharp rise in cases over the past few weeks, with the tally now standing at 490 with 26 deaths, according to the state public health department.

More than half of the cases were from Mumbai, which accounted for 278 patients, while Pune clocked 70.

In Chhattisgarh, no new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, and three people were reported to have recovered.

In the wake of rising cases, the government on Friday said that it is scaling up the testing in the areas where large number of cases are being reported. “We are currently taking samples and conducting tests on people in areas that were considered hotspots of covid-19. We are also doing testing of Severe Acute Respiratory Illness and influenza-like illnesses in these areas," said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, ministry of health and family welfare.

Neetu Chandra Sharma, Pretika Khanna, Romita Majumdar, M.K Nidheesh, Sharan Poovanna and Yunus Y. Lasania contributed to this story.

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