March 20, 2020 10:44:28 pm
In view of the coronavirus outbreak, the government Friday announced a slew of measures to prevent its spread as the total number of positive cases in the country rose to 236.
Reiterating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to masses on social distancing, the government issued an advisory to companies to implement “Work from Home” policy.
Meanwhile, states are ramping up measures to encourage people to stay indoors on Sunday, March 22, in line with Modi’s call for ‘Janata curfew’ in an address to the nation on Thursday.
Earlier today, he also held a video conference with Chief Ministers of all states to discuss ways to check the spread of the virus. Here are some of the big announcements today:
Centre extends visas of foreigners in India till April 15
In a major relief to foreigners who are currently in India and unable to leave the country in view of the coronavirus outbreak, the Centre has decided to extend their regular visas and e-visa till April 15.
According to a Union Home Ministry notification, a number of foreign nationals are in the country since the imposition of travel restrictions and are unable to exit the country during the validity of their visa.
“Regular visa, e-visa or stay stipulation of all foreign nationals which have expired or would be expiring during the period from March 13 (midnight) to April 15 (midnight) would be extended till midnight of April 14 on ‘Gratis’ basis after making online application by the foreigner. The exit of such foreign nationals, if so requested by them during this period, will be granted without levy of overstay penalty,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, the government is also working out the logistics and chalking out a place with various airlines to bring back Indians stranded in European countries in transit.
Procure enough masks and ventilators: Health ministry
As the number of cases continues to rise, the Union Health Ministry has asked hospitals and medical institutes to procure sufficient number of ventilators and high flow oxygen masks.
Highlighting the need to ensure a stable medical infrastructure for a possible influx of patients, the ministry issued an advisory stating that interventions for indoor facilities should be taken care of. It further also said that non-essential elective surgeries should be postponed.
“Hospitals must procure sufficient numbers of ventilators and high flow oxygen masks in preparation for future requirements. All hospitals must ensure that they have adequate trained manpower and resource pools for ventilator/ ICU care,” the advisory stated.
Army issues work from home for officers, JCOs
Issuing a fresh advisory today, the Army has said 35 per cent officers and 50 per cent junior commissioned officers (JCOs) in the Headquarters must take turns to work from home for a week starting March 23. Whereas, the second group of officers would go into home quarantine from march 30.
“Thirty-five per cent officers and 50 per cent JCO/OR to work from home adhering to home quarantine for one week starting March 23, 2020. Second group to proceed on home quarantine on March 30, 2020. Intermixing of groups has to be avoided. It shall be ensured that personnel is available on telephone and electronic means at all times for exigencies of work,” the army was quoted as saying by PTI.
In view of Janata curfew, about 1,300 long-distance trains scheduled for Sunday have been cancelled, in addition to another 2400 passenger trains. Local trains will be reduced to just skeletal, essential services during the period.
Trains already on the run will be allowed to reach their destinations. Passengers desirous of staying at stations during the Janata curfew will be accommodated at stations and waiting areas. IRCTC, the catering wing of the Railways, also decided to shut its food plazas, refreshment rooms, cell kitchens and such static units indefinitely and onboard catering services in mail/express trains will be suspended from Sunday.
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