The Ministry, in its evening update, said that 206 deaths have been reported in India so far, while the active cases stand at 6,039 and the total number of cases climbed to 6,761, which include 71 foreign nationals.
"A total of 515 patients have been cured and discharged," it said.
Maharashtra is the most affected state with 1,364 positive cases and 97 fatalities so far, followed by Delhi with 898 cases and 13 deaths. Tamil Nadu is the third most affected state with 834 cases and 8 deaths. Delhi and Tami Nadu saw their numbers rising due to the number of people who tested positive after attending the Tablighi Jamaat event in the national capital.
Of the total 206 deaths, Maharashtra tops the tally with 97 fatalities, followed by Gujarat at 17, Madhya Pradesh at 16 and Delhi at 13. Punjab registered 11 deaths while Tamil Nadu has reported eight fatalities and Telengana seven.
Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have reported six deaths each while five people have lost their lives in West Bengal. Jammu and Kashmir, and Uttar Pradesh have reported four fatalities each while Haryana and Rajasthan have recorded three deaths each.
Two deaths have been reported from Kerala. Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Jharkhand reported one fatality each, according to the health ministry data.
There has been a lag in the Union Health Ministry figures, compared to the number of cases announced by different states, which officials attribute to procedural delays in assigning the cases to individual states.
Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary Health Ministry, said there is no community transmission of the coronavirus viral infection, thus people should not panic.
He said the infection rate from coronavirus is not huge, for example out of 16,000 tests in a day, only 0.2 per cent cases have tested positive. As many as 146 government labs are testing samples for COVID-19 and 67 private labs have been given approval to conduct the test, said the health ministry.
The ministry official said in January this year, they began with just one lab then scaled it up to 15 labs. "We have done upscaling to 2.5 labs in a day so far", said Agarwal.
On the availability of the Hydroxychloroquine, Agarwal said there is a stock of more than 3 crore tablets in the country, and the required projection of consumption is nearly 1 crore tablets.
"The stock is sufficient for the month-end requirement", said Agarwal citing the MEA decision to export surplus medicine.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) updated its testing strategy for COVID-19 patients in India. The revised strategy mentioned that asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case should be tested once between "day 5 and day 14" of coming in his or her contact.
Despite this steep rise in numbers, ICMR data suggests the rate of positive cases is between 3-5% from the samples tested so far.
The government has also significantly increased the number of tests per day, in association with private labs, as it has also identified hotspots and high-risk zones.
The government has started conducting surveys where it is sampling people with hypertension and diabetes. The Health Ministry insists the country has not reached the community transmission stage yet, as the steep rise in the number of positive cases is not observed if it were to have reached the community spread stage.
India is in the final stages of framing a protocol for conducting clinical trial for convalescent plasma therapy, which uses antibodies from the blood of cured patients, to treat severely-ill COVID-19 patients, a senior ICMR official said.
Kerala is set to become the first state in the country to commence the therapy to treat those critically-ill on a trial basis. The ICMR is learnt to have given its nod to the state government for the first of its kind project, initiated by the prestigious Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST), a top official had said.
The country will be under a 21-day lockdown until 14 April, which was imposed to curb the spread of the virus.
States like Odisha and Punjab have extended the lockdown till 30 April and 1 May, respectively.
More than 1.6 million cases of the novel coronavirus and 95,000 deaths have been recorded globally, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Here are total coronavirus cases in India, state-wise
Andhra Pradesh - 363
Andaman and Nicobar Islands - 11
Arunachal Pradesh - 1
Assam - 29
Bihar - 60
Chandigarh - 18
Chhattisgarh - 10
Delhi - 898
Goa - 7
Gujarat - 241
Haryana - 169
Himachal Pradesh - 28
Jammu and Kashmir - 184
Jharkhand - 13
Karnataka - 197
Kerala - 357
Ladakh - 15
Madhya Pradesh - 259
Maharashtra - 1,364
Manipur - 2
Mizoram - 1
Odisha - 44
Puducherry - 5
Punjab - 132
Rajasthan - 463
Tamil Nadu - 834
Telangana - 473
Tripura - 1
Uttarakhand - 35
Uttar Pradesh - 431
West Bengal - 116