The tally includes two fatalities and 17 foreigners as well as 13 people who were discharged after they recovered from the infection.
The number of coronavirus cases touched 114 in the country on Monday after fresh cases were reported from several states, including Odisha as the government imposed fresh travel restrictions, prohibiting entry of passengers from the European Union countries and the United Kingdom from March 18.
The Union health ministry also said fresh coronavirus cases were also reported from Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh and Kerala.
A Maharashtra government official said four patients were detected for the novel coronavirus infection, taking the state tally to 37, as concerns over the pandemic steered decisions across all sectors and states, including in politically volatile Madhya Pradesh.
The Union ministry did not immediately add the Maharashtra cases to its national count, covering 15 states and union territories. Kerala officials also maintained the total tally was 24 as against 23 given by the Union ministry.
The tally of 114 includes 17 foreigners. While two people died, 13 people were discharged after they recovered from the infection, which according to the WHO has infected 1,53,517 people in 135 countries and territories and claimed more than 5,700 lives.
With the four new patients, Odisha has a count of one, Ladakh four and Jammu and Kashmir three, according to the ministry.
IMAGE: A worker disinfects the exteriors of a passenger train parked at a railway yard as a preventive measure against coronavirus, on the outskirts of Kolkata. Photograph: Rupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
With the positive cases of COVID-19 showing an increase, the government after a meeting of a group of ministers proposed a set of social distancing measures to be in force till March 31, the health
ministry officials told reporters.
"Travel of passengers from member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and United Kingdom to India is prohibited with effect from 18th March 2020," said Lav Aggarwal, the Joint Secretary in the ministry.
"No airline shall board a passenger from these nations to India with effect from 1200 GMT on 18th March 2020. The airline shall enforce this at the port of initial departure," he said.
Both these instructions are temporary measures and shall be in force till March 31 2020 and will be reviewed subsequently, he said.
On March 11, India suspended all visas, except a few categories such as diplomatic and employment, till April 15 to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The GoM held their seventh meeting on Monday and after detailed deliberations social distancing measures as a preventive strategy has been proposed for implementation, Aggarwal said, adding that these interventions are proposed to be in force till March 31.
The key measures proposed include closure of all educational institutions -- schools, colleges and universities -- gyms, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres, he said.
All ASI-protected monuments and central museums across the country will also be shut till March 31, Union Culture Minister Prahlad Patal said.
Students should be advised to stay at home and online education should be promoted, Aggarwal said.
"Non-essential travel should be avoided. Buses, trains and aeroplanes should maximise social distancing in public transport, besides ensuring proper disinfection of services," he said.
As many states virtually shut down to stem the spread of COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the contribution of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers in fighting the virus. He said there was a coordinated response to the outbreak, showing the strong spirit of the nation in such situations.
In a series of tweets with the hashtag 'India Fights Corona', Modi said the encouragement from people highlighting the steps being taken to combat the virus is boosting the morale of all the "remarkable people" at the forefront of the fight.
Authorities in Maharashtra, which has registered the highest number of positive cases in India, have decided to close some prominent tourist and religious attractions as a precautionary measure.
The world-famous Ajanta and Ellora caves near Aurangabad, the popular Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai and the Tuljabhawani temple in Osmanabad district would remain closed in view of the coronavirus situation in the state, officials said.
Entry restrictions to Mantralaya, the state secretariat in south Mumbai which sees thousands of visitors daily, will also be in force, Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said.
Giving details of the Odisha case, an official in Bhubaneswar said a researcher who recently returned from Italy tested positive for the coronavirus.
The 33-year-old patient who reached Delhi from Italy on March 6 and travelled to Bhubaneswar by train on March 12 is being treated at the Capital Hospital in the Odisha capital.
"His condition is stable and he is not showing any other complications," the state government's chief spokesperson on coronavirus cases Subroto Bagchi told reporters.
The man consulted a doctor on March 13, complaining of fever and headache, and was admitted to the hospital's isolation ward the next day.
As he travelled by train from Delhi to Bhubaneswar, the state government has launched a "contact tracing exercise", Bagchi said.
His family members have been quarantined and kept under observation.
SEE: Buddhist monastery in Kullu shut after coronavirus scare
In Madhya Pradesh, where the future of the Congress-led Kamal Nath government hangs in balance, there was no floor test as was being speculated and the assembly was adjourned in view of the state government's concerns over the coronavirus.
Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs demanded a floor test as directed by Governor Lalji Tandon -- after 22 Congress MLAs of the Congress resigned from the party.
However, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Govind Singh raised the issue of the coronavirus threat and also mentioned the Central government's advisory on the matter, prompting Speaker N P Prajapati to accept his plea and adjourn proceedings till March 26.
While political confabulations continued in the central Indian state, many thousands of students across the country were restricted to their homes and employees worked from home as administrations all over put into effect plans to contain the spread of the contagious disease with flu-like symptoms.
Gyms, cinema halls, swimming pools and other places were closed in many states. Adding to its restrictions, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said no religious, social, cultural and political
gathering of over 50 people would be allowed in Delhi till March 31.
Meanwhile, Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang said neither foreign nor domestic tourists will be allowed to enter into the state, and announced shutting down of educational institutes till April
The Supreme Court, where lawyers, litigants and others were thermal screened, took suo motu cognisance of overcrowding and infrastructure of prisons across the country.
A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and L N Rao issued a notice to the Director General, Prison, and chief secretary of all states and union territories seeking their response by March 20 on steps taken for prevention of COVID-19.
Efforts were also on to bring back Indians stranded abroad.
An Air India flight with 53 Indians evacuated from coronavirus-hit Iran landed in New Delhi and the passengers were flown to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan where they have been quarantined at the Army Wellness
"Fourth batch of 53 Indians - 52 students and a teacher - has arrived from Tehran and Shiraz, Iran. With this, a total of 389 Indians have returned to India from Iran. Thank the efforts of the team India_in_Iran and Iranian authorities," External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted.
Iran is one of the worst-affected countries by the coronavirus outbreak with over 14,000 cases detected and over 700 people dead.
Signalling its serious intent to contain the infection, police in Kochi registered a case against 79 people for organising a mass reception for a popular reality show contestant on his arrival at the Cochin International Airport despite restrictions on such gatherings in view of the coronavirus threat.