NEW DELHI: Almost all of India came under lockdown late on Monday night as the Centre scrambled to arrest the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Thirty states and Union Territories covering 548 districts have gone with the government’s advisory to fully shut down. Six other states/UTs have either announced partial lockdown or not taken the call yet. Earlier in the day, all domestic flights were put on hold effective Tuesday midnight.
The worries were basically on two counts: big spike in fresh cases in a few states and a section of the people not taking the lockdown seriously. The biggest jump came from Kerala, as 30 new cases of coronavirus infection were reported, with 19 from the state’s worst-affected district, Kasaragod, alone. Compared with the rest of the state, stringent restrictions have been imposed in Kasaragod, which borders Karnataka as people are allowed to step out of their homes only to access essential services.
Maharashtra reported eight new cases, but people were seen moving around freely, forcing CM Uddhav Thackeray to bring the entire state under curfew.
While 12 new cases were reported in Gujarat, Karnataka had seven and Telangana three.
Two fatalities were reported, one each in Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal (see box), taking the total fatalities to nine. The overall count of cases in the country was 468. To further strengthen the lockdown, the Centre announced that no domestic airline will operate in the country from Tuesday midnight till March 31. Also, incoming passenger traffic through all 107 immigration/integrated check posts — airports, seaports, land ports, rail ports and river ports has been stopped.
Since a section of the people were taking it easy, the government threatened to act tough. Lav Agarwal, joint secretary (health), said those violating the orders could be penalised under Epidemic Disease and Disaster Management laws.Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, reached out to them, saying: “Please save yourself, save your family, follow the directives seriously. I request the state governments to ensure that the rules and laws are followed.”
Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research approved prophylactic on Monday advised the use of hydroxy-chloroquine for health workers engaged in the medicare of suspected or confirmed cases and the asymptomatic household contacts of lab-confirmed cases to shield them from the infection.
Reacting to rumours of the virus being airborne, the WHO said it appears to spread mostly through respiratory droplets.
Police patrol vehicles to continuously monitor roads
Police personnel will restrict all inter-district movement of vehicles and check whether they fall under the allowed category. Police patrol vehicles will continuously monitor all roads and streets.
Examination for class 12 students scheduled for March 24 will be conducted. However, class 11 exams scheduled for March 26 have been postponed. All other exams related to colleges, schools and government recruitment stand postponed.
Only takeaways will be permitted at eateries and Amma Canteens will function with adequate social distancing. The Chief Minister said in the Assembly that the government is considering relief measures for people financially affected by these restrictions.Industries manufacturing essential commodities and export/import companies dealing with the same will be allowed to function with minimal work force. IT and ITES units will ensure that employees work from home.
Units dealing with critical and essential services will continue to operate taking all protective measures. All construction work, except essential projects, will not be permitted. However, workers must be paid remuneration for these days. The order by the Health Department directed all people with symptoms of COVID-19 and those returned from abroad after March 1 to remain quarantined at home.
All employers will pay wage/ salary to workers and employees, including those working on contractual and outsource basis during this period.Shops that are under the exempted categories shall ensure that at any given point of time, there is no crowd inside and customers also maintain a social distancing of three feet between each other. The premises shall be cleaned and disinfected three times every day. Enough sanitizers should be provided at the entrance.
First fatality in West Bengal
A 57-year-old man who had tested positive for the coronavirus last week, became the first fatality in West Bengal. He was on ventilation and died in a private hospital in Kolkata on Monday. He was a railway employee
Tibetan dies in HP’s kangra district
A Tibetan became the first coronavirus fatality in Himachal Pradesh. The 69-year-old died at the Dr Rajendra Prasad Government Medical College at Tanda in Kangra on Monday. He had recently returned from the US
finance bill passed, Parliament shut
Parliament was adjourned sine die 11 days before its Budget Session was scheduled to conclude. Both the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha passed the Finance Bill
on Mondaypartial lockdown
While three states have announced partial lockdown — UP (16 districts), Odisha (5 districts + 6 municipal jurisdictions), MP (37 districts) — part of Lakshadweep UT is shut. Sikkim and Mizoram are yet to issue orders