Even as the country observed “Janata curfew” on Sunday following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unprecedented shutdown call to check the spread of the novel coronavirus, three more deaths were reported linked to COVID-19 from Bihar, Maharashtra and Gujarat, taking the overall toll to seven. The total number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 370 as the Centre advised state governments to announce a lockdown in 75 districts across the country where coronavirus cases have been reported.
Meanwhile, the Indian Railways announced suspension of all trains from March 22 till March 31. Only goods trains will be allowed to ply during this period. More than 2.3 crore travel on the Railways on average daily. The development comes amid migrants flooding railway stations in big cities to rush back home.
“No trains except goods trains will be run up to 2400 hrs of 31.03.2020. Bare minimum local trains and Kolkata metro rail service will continue to run till 2400 hrs on 22.03.2020, thereafter these services will also be stopped till 2400 hrs of 31.03.2020,” the Railways said in a statement.
India shuts down, observes ‘Janata curfew’
As the 14-hour ‘Janata curfew’ kicked in from 7 am, people across India stayed indoors, streets bore a deserted look, all shops and establishments and hotels had their shutters down and a large number of vehicles were off the roads. The ‘Janata curfew’ will end at 9 pm.
Ahead of the start of the curfew, PM Modi called people as valued soldiers in the fight against coronavirus. “Each of you is a valued soldier in this battle against COVID-19. Your being alert and cautious can help lakhs of other lives,” PM Modi tweeted.
In Delhi, except some private vehicles and buses, roads were empty and a sense of serenity prevailed in the usually bustling Connaught Place. In some pockets, the Delhi Police could be seen offering flowers to people on the streets, requesting them to stay at home.
The ‘Janata curfew’ call received a good response in Maharashtra, which has reported the maximum positive cases at 64, according to the Health Ministry. The western and eastern express highways, the Marine Drive and the suburban train stations, the lifeline of Mumbai, were deserted.
State government authorities had on Saturday informed people that only those engaged in essential services would be allowed to travel in local trains, that too after checking their identity papers.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has already ordered a complete shutdown of offices and shops, excluding essential services, in Mumbai, cities in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad and Nagpur from Friday midnight until March 31.
In Madhya Pradesh, besides the four districts of Jabalpur, Rewa, Seoni and Narsinghpur that have been placed under lockdown, roadside shops and eateries remained closed. Same was the situation in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara and Rajkot.
Tourist hotspot Goa followed the curfew call with people off the streets and beaches desolate. The Goa Church cancelled its Sunday masses all over the coastal state to avoid crowding. Besides, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has extended the janata curfew for three more days and might take a decision to extend it further at the end of the third day period, Health minister Vishwajit Rane told reporters.
Tamil Nadu also came to a virtual standstill and the government extended the Janata curfew till 5 am on Monday. However, there will be no bar on essential services.
States announce complete lockdown
In order to contain the coronavirus threat, different state governments announced complete lockdown.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Sunday announced a complete shutdown of the national capital from 6 am Monday, March 23, to midnight of March 31. In a press note, Kejriwal said no public transport services including private buses, autos, e-rickshaws will be allowed during the lockdown period in Delhi. DTC bus fleet will continue to ply with 25 per cent of their capacity to carry people involved in essential services.
He also said all private offices will remain closed but the employees – both permanent and contractual – will be considered to be on-duty. The companies will have to provide them the salary for this duration.
Kejriwal, however, said that all essential service outlets such as grocery stores, bakery, hospital, medical store, and petrol pumps will continue to function. No document or proof will be sought from a person if they say that they are out on streets to provide or avail any of these essential services, he added.
Besides, section 144 will also be imposed on the national capital from Monday to restrict the assembly of five or more people at a public space.
Karnataka has decided to put nine districts including capital city Bengaluru under a week-long lockdown beginning Monday.
According to a state government order released on Sunday, the lockdown will be in place from 0000 hours of March 23 to 0000 hours of April 1.
The nine districts include Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, Kalaburagi, Chikkaballapur, Mysuru, Madikeri, Dharwad, Mangaluru, and Belagavi.
“It is imperative to adopt strict social distancing and isolation measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 which is playing havoc across the world including India. Karnataka has witnessed more than 20 COVID-19 positive cases and 1 death,” the order signed by Director of Health & Family Welfare Services read.
The order also directs closure of all commercial establishments, workshops, and godowns dealing with non-essential services. Labour-intensive industries have been asked to work at 50% of their total strength on a rotational basis ensuring strict adherence to social distancing measures.
Jammu and Kashmir will go into a full lockdown starting 8 pm on Sunday until March 31. State chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam passed the order to enforce the shutdown with a view too prevent the spread of covid-19 pandemic and “break the transmission chain of the virus. Underscoring the need to enforce social distancing and precent close contact with the people, the UT administration directed Deputy commissioners of all districts to issue orders under section 144 and also under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 to shutdown all establishments except those providing essential Services until March 31, 6 pm.
Just ahead of the announcement of the lockdown, the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs issued a list of 16 essential commodities and services that include supply of groceries, dispensing of fuel at pumps, banks and ATMs, supply of LPG, health services, newspapers and post offices among others.
Haryana government today enforced lockdown in seven districts, after positive case of corona virus were detected from these districts. The decision to enforce a complete lockdown across the State was yet not taken, although Punjab Union Territory of Chandigarh today ordered a complete lockdown, except essential services, till March 31.
The seven districts where a complete lockdown was ordered include Gurugram, Faridabad, Sonipat, Panipat, Jhajjar, Rohtak and Panchkula.
The inter-state bus services shall remain suspended in the entire state, till further orders. All Deputy Commissioners have been directed to establish Control Rooms in their respective districts for Covid-19 outbreak.
Access to all essential services, both online and offline, will be exempted from the restrictions.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has announced that 15 districts in Uttar Pradesh would be under lockdown in the first phase till Wednesday. The districts where the lockdown has been enforced in the first phase are Lucknow, Agra, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur, Aligarh, Moradabad, Lakhimpur Kheiri, Bareilly, Azamgarh, Meerut, Gorakhpur and Saharanpur.
The Uttarakhand government imposed a lockdown till March 31 in the state on Sunday to contain the spread of the coronavirus, officials told PTI. However, essential supplies such as medicines, foodgrains, vegetables etc. were kept out of the ambit of the lockdown, they added.
Odisha, Rajasthan, Bihar and Chandigarh have announced either complete or partial lockdown till the month end. Air carriers like GoAir, IndiGo and Vistara have curtailed domestic operations on Sunday.
Three more deaths reported from Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat
On Sunday, Bihar reported its first coronavirus-linked death after a a 38-year-old man with underlying chronic renal complications passed away at a Patna hospital. The man, a resident of Munger, had returned from Qatar, on February 20 and was admitted at a Patna hospital after he showed symptoms of COVID-19.
In what could be a first case of community transmission leading to death, a 63-year-old man with suspected symptoms of flu passed away in Mumbai. The 63-year-old, who had no foreign travel history, had underlying conditions of diabetes, high blood pressure and ischemic heart disease.
The man developed symptoms about 13 days ago after he returned from Surat and was admitted to a hospital on March 19. He developed acute respiratory distress syndrome and was put on ventilator support. “So far we have found nothing. No contacts,” a state official said. His wife has also tested positive for COVID-19 and has been remains admitted in Kasturba hospital.
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