Updated: March 19, 2020 8:21:34 pm
To contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government on Thursday announced that no international commercial passenger aircraft would be allowed to land in the country from March 22 for a week. India reported its fourth coronavirus-linked death on Thursday from Punjab as the number of cases spiked to 173.
In a release, the government also asked the state governments to issue appropriate directions advising all senior citizens above the age of 65 years and children below the age of 10 years to stay at home. Follow Coronavirus (COVID-19) LIVE updates
Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that Metros, trains, buses, and aircraft should also reduce the frequency, ensure alternate sitting for social distancing that is essential to contain the spread of the COVID-19 that has so far claimed lives of four in India.
Confirming that there has been no community transmission in India so far, Agarwal said, “Lockdown (in the country) is a very inappropriate word; govt effort has been to prepare for evolving global scenario. Our measures started on January 17. To err on the side of caution will help us.”
Earlier in the day, all concessions in Indian Railways were suspended, except concessions to students, patients and disabled, to discourage inessential travel. This means that all other train concessions, like senior citizens, farmers, war widows, VIPs, delegates, etc. stand suspended for now.
Last week, in an unprecedented move, India decided to suspend all visas, barring select categories, till April 15, effectively closing its borders for a month.
“All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/ international organisations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure. Visa-free travel facility granted to OCI (Overseas Citizenship of India) cardholders is kept in abeyance till April 15th, 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure. Any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reason may contact the nearest Indian Mission,” the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a statement.
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