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COVID-19: Government issues guidelines on social distancing

The guidelines came after the number of coronavirus infected cases climbed up to 285 and claimed four lives.

Published: 21st March 2020 02:16 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st March 2020 02:16 PM   |  A+A-

People wear protective masks as a precaution measure against the coronavirus outbreak at Sarojini Market in New Delhi. (Photo | Ashish Kumar Kataria/EPS)

By IANS

NEW DELHI: Asserting the measures taken by states and union territories are not uniform, the Central government on Saturday issued a slew of guidelines on social distancing in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.

An expert group constituted under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, through Health Secretary Preeti Sudan, asked the state and union territories to regulate work in government offices to reduce congestion and maintain hygiene.

The guidelines came after the number of coronavirus infected cases climbed up to 285 and claimed four lives.

Among other measures, they have also been directed to regulate working hours except in essential services. "Private sector to consider work from home, wherever feasible," the guidelines stated.

Frequency of metros, railways, buses and aeroplanes should be decreased.

"Alternate seating to ensure social distancing; disinfection and crowd control in places like railway stations, metro stations, bus stands, airports, etc," it further stated, adding that social distancing should be maintained even in small gatherings.

As per the guidelines, the educational institutions, theatres, museums, gyms and examination centres should remain closed.

"Sporting events, competitions and religious gatherings to be postponed and maintain required social distancing even in smaller gatherings."

Barring public representatives, government servants and medical professionals, all senior citizens have been directed to remain indoors and avoid gatherings, except for medical reasons and need for essential services.

The guidelines added, "All children below ten years of age to remain at home and avoid going to public parks, picnics and other games requiring a large number of participants."

All health establishments should avoid non-urgent hospitalisation and minimise elective surgeries, the guidelines stated.

In the wake of black marketing, the government also tightened the screw on the regulation of prices of masks, sanitizer and medicines and ensure their availability.

"Sensitise on the appropriate use of masks and good hygienic practices including washing hands with soap," the government directed.

The state and union territories have been asked to motivate citizens, particularly the youth, to volunteer to support the ongoing efforts in the management of COVID-l9.

The government also gave the state and union territories a free hand to invoke relevant provisions of law in the larger public interest.

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