With the number of coronavirus cases in the country touching 107, several state governments have announced a slew of preventive measures to curb further spread of the virus and enforced social distancing. Two deaths have been reported, while 10 patients have been discharged after recovery.
Various states have gone into a virtual shutdown while many, including Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Odisha, Uttarakhand have closed schools, colleges, and movie theatres.
The government has declared COVID-19 a ‘notified disaster’ and states and Union Territories have been asked to invoke provisions of Section 2 of Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, so that Health Ministry advisories are enforceable. The Epidemic Diseases Act is routinely enforced across the country for dealing with outbreaks of diseases such as swine flu, dengue, and cholera.
Besides, the Centre has already suspended all visas, barring select categories, till April 15, effectively closing its borders for a month. It means that no foreign tourists can enter India for over a month now, affecting an already stressed economy. The Centre has decided to allow international road traffic only through 19 border check-posts out of 37 while suspending Indo-Bangladesh cross-border passenger trains and buses till April 15.
Here’s how state governments are tackling coronavirus:
Maharashtra is among the worst-affected state in the country, with 31 active cases. The Uddhav Thackeray-led government has announced the closure of all schools and colleges in urban areas till March 31. It also shut malls across the state till the month-end. Grocery stores, which sell commodities of daily need at the mall, will remain open.
Invoking provisions of the Epidemic Act, 1897, the state government has ordered the closure of gymnasiums, movie halls, swimming pools and theatres in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, and Nagpur till March 31. However, examinations for SSC and HSC and other university exams will go on as per the timetable.
Kerala, which saw the first coronavirus case in the country, has 22 patients. Three patients have already recovered. The state is also under lockdown till March 31 and has decided to examine passengers in all trains entering the state as well as vehicles at borders. The state government has also decided to supply food provisions directly to the houses of those under observation. It has also said that “hiding travel history will be treated as a crime and proper action will be taken”.
To address the shortage of masks in the market, the ruling dispensation has decided to rope in prisoners to manufacture them. Besides, state-owned Kerala State Drugs and Pharmaceuticals has been asked to manufacture one lakh bottles of hand sanitiser within ten days. The chief minister has also advised the citizens to avoid mass gatherings and to not go to the Sabarimala temple.
Haryana, which has declared novel coronavirus an ‘epidemic’, has 14 foreign patients so far. It has empowered deputy commissioners (DCs) and other senior officers to enforce stringent measures, including “sealing of the geographical areas” and “banning entry-exit of the population from the containment area”.
Of the 12 patients in Uttar Pradesh, seven are from Agra, two each from Ghaziabad and Lucknow, and one from Noida. The government has strengthened the surveillance and has tracked 3,722 travelers from the 105 coronavirus affected countries till Saturday evening.
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced the closure of all the educational institutes, from basic to higher education, till March 22. However, an exemption has been made for institutes where examinations are in progress. The Chief Minister made an appeal to stop mass gatherings, including cancellation of Holi milan functions.
Screening of visitors is being done all across the Indo-Nepal border in the state and paramedics are been specially trained to handle the situation.
Amid the coronavirus scare and with one death being reported in the city Friday, the Delhi government has stopped all sports gatherings and ordered immediate closure of primary schools in the national capital till March 31. The government also announced shutting down of all cinema halls till March 31. All public swimming pools have also been closed till March 31.
Karnataka registered India’s first casualty due to coronavirus and six people in the state have tested positive so far. The state government has also shut down public spaces such as malls and theatres apart from canceling public events — for a week and to review the situation subsequently. The Karnataka government has also announced the postponement of annual examinations for classes 7 to 9 till March 31.
Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir
While the Union Territory of Ladakh has confirmed three cases, Jammu and Kashmir has reported two. Schools, colleges have been shut under provisions of Section 144 of CrPC. The government has introduced 100 per cent self-declaration by passengers at Jammu and Srinagar airports in order to trace travelers who have travel histories to countries like China, South Korea, Iran, Thailand among others, or those who had come in contact with people with travel history to these countries. Medical teams have been deployed at both the airports along with other logistical arrangements at the healthcare facilities.
Two Italian tourists, an 85-year-old man from Jaipur and a 24-year-old man are the confirmed patients in the state. Government officials said that all those who came in touch with the patients will be screened, including all those living within three kilometres of the patients’ residence.
The state government announced a shutdown and banned public gatherings after a man from Karnataka who visited Hyderabad for treatment died and his samples were reported to have tested positive for Covid-19. He had come in contact with more than a hundred people, who are all under quarantine now.
For the first time in over 1,700 years of its existence, the temple of Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumala put curbs on visits by pilgrims due to the outbreak. The temple authorities will not allow more than 4,000 pilgrims inside the complex at any given time.
In Tamil Nadu, the government has advised people to avoid traveling to neigbouring states. Primary schools, malls and theatres to stay shut until March 31.
Punjab has ordered the closure of educational institutions, cinema halls, swimming pools, taverns and gyms till the end of this month amid the coronavirus scare. Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said the government has also banned the holding of sports events, cultural meets, fairs, exhibitions and conferences till further orders. The department was also considering retaining the doctors, who are scheduled to retire on March 31, following the implementation of a new rule of reducing the retirement age from 60 to 58.
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