As COVID-19 cases mount to 396, trains, Metros shut across India
After the success of the janata curfew on Sunday, the Government has decided to suspend all inter-State buses, passenger trains and Metro services across the country till March 31. At the same time, authorities have decided to completely lockdown 75 districts except essential services where coronavirus cases were reported as several States announced extraordinary measures to check the spread of the disease which has left 396 infected and seven dead.
The three casualties reported on Sunday were from Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra. A 38-year-old man with a kidney ailment and recent travel history to Qatar died at AIIMS-Patna and a 67-year-old man died at a hospital in Surat in Gujarat, state officials said. The Union Health Ministry was yet to confirm the deaths were caused by coronavirus. Another death was reported from Mumbai of a 63-year-old man.
Even before the Government order, several States like Punjab, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra went for complete lockdown with an aim to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission.
The Union Health Ministry has asked the States to earmark a certain number of hospitals to exclusively treat COVID-19 patients. The Railway Ministry has urged the people to “postpone all journeys”, a day after three incidents involving 12 people were reported as they were found to be travelling on trains despite being instructed to go for quarantine. All of them tested positive.
Soon after the Centre and State Governments following a meeting led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to completely lock down 75 districts across the country where coronavirus cases have been reported, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director Balram Bhargava told reporters here that a lockdown was the most essential aspect to the break the chain of transmission as of now.
“Each State has pledged that they will earmark hospitals exclusively to treat COVID-19 patients,” Bhargava said. “For example, in Delhi, AIIMS’ division of National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Jhajjar (Haryana) — which has around 800 beds — would be used only to treat COVID-19 patients,” he said.
Bhargava stated that 60 private labs had registered so far to conduct coronavirus tests. He said India is capable of conducting 10,000 coronavirus tests a day and conducted 5,000 tests last week. Speaking to the media, Bhargava said the testing capacity could be increased above 10,000, if needed.
“It’s important that indiscriminate testing is not done. Those returning from abroad should go for isolation,” he said.
In view of no let up in the Covid-19 cases, the Government gave an order to procure 1,200 new ventilators, said Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal. He talked about the steps taken to contain the virus that has claimed over 13,000 lives worldwide. The decisions were taken at a high-level meeting of chief secretaries of all States and the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, officials said on Sunday.
In the meeting, it was decided to suspend all train services till March 31, including suburban rail services. However, goods trains are exempted. All metro rail services were also suspended till March 31, the officials said. Subsequently, the railways announced suspension of all its 13,523 passenger trains from March 22 midnight to March 31 midnight and said only goods trains will run during the said period. The suspensions also include all suburban train services.
The railways had already trimmed down its services on Friday by cancelling a majority of trains. However, it had allowed all trains that had already started the journey to continue. “No train except goods trains will run till 2400 hrs of March 31. However, a bare minimum of suburban services and the Kolkata Metro Rail service will continue to run till 2400 hours of March 22. Thereafter, these services will also be stopped till 2400 hours of March 31,” a spokesperson of the Indian Railways said.
The trains that had already commenced their journey prior to 4 am on March 22 will run up to their respective destinations, the railways said, adding that adequate arrangements would be made for the passengers during the travel and at their destinations. “To ensure the essential supplies in various parts of the country, movement of goods trains will continue,” the Railway Ministry said in a statement.
The State Governments have also been asked to allow only essential services to operate in districts with confirmed COVID-19 cases. The focus should be on closure of all activities except essential services such as hospitals, telecom, medicine shops, provision stores etc. “Establishments/factories engaged in manufacturing and distribution of essential commodities like medicines, vaccines, sanitizers, masks, medical devices, their ancillaries and support services etc., should be exempt from these restrictions,” the Government advisory said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has also announced that his government was placing the national capital under a lock down from 6 am on March 23 and will continue till midnight March 31. Essential services will continue, Kejriwal said while Delhi Police said prohibitory orders have been imposed in the national capital till March 31, adding that protests and other gatherings of people have been banned. The Delhi government urged residents to remain indoors even after the “Janta Curfew” ends.
The West Bengal government said in a notification that Kolkata and several other areas of the state will be under lockdown from Monday 5 pm till Mar 27.
According to the Health Ministry, Maharashtra has reported the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases at 63, followed by Kerala (52) and Delhi (27). Uttar Pradesh has recorded 25 cases, Telangana 21 cases, Rajasthan 24 cases, Haryana 17 cases. Karnataka has 20 patients. Punjab and Ladakh have 13 cases each. Gujarat has 14 cases while Tamil Nadu has 6 cases. Chandigarh has reported five cases. Madhya Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and West Bengal reported four cases each. Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand reported three cases each.
Odisha and Himachal Pradesh reported 2 cases each while Puducherry and Chhattisgarh reported one case each.
The Indian Council of Medical Research said they are ramping up testing efforts, but added that they won’t do indiscriminate testing for COVID-19. The strategy is to test only those who show symptoms, its director general said.
The paramilitary forces, comprising about 10 lakh personnel, also ordered immediate suspension of movement of troops and directed them to ‘’be where they are’’ till April 5, officials said.
List of districts under lockdown in view of coronavirus outbreak till March 31 in view of the coronavirus outbreak:
Andhra Pradesh– Prakasam, Vijaywada, Vizag; Chandigarh– Chandigarh; Chhattisgarh– Raipur; Delhi– Central East, Delhi, North Delhi, North- West Delhi, North East Delhi, South Delhi, West Delhi; Gujarat-Kutch, Rajkot, Gandhinagar, Surat, Vadodara, Ahmedabad; Haryana– Faridabad, Sonipat, Panchkula, Panipat, Gurugram; Himachal Pradesh– Kangra; UT of Jammu and Kashmir– Srinagar, Jammu; Karnataka– Bangalore , Chikkaballapura, Mysore, Kodagu, Kalaburagi; Kerala– Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Iduki, Kannur, Kasargod, Kottayam, Mallapuram, Pathanamthitta, Thiruvanthpuram, Thrissur; UT of Ladakh– Kargil, Leh; Madhya Pradesh– Jabalpur; Maharashtra– Ahmednagar, Aurangabad, Mumbai, Nagpur, Mumbai Suburb, Pune, Ratnagiri, Raigad, Thane, Yavatmal; Odisha– Khurda; Puducherry- Mahe; Punjab– Hoshiarpur, SAS Nagar, SBS Nagar; Rajasthan– Bhilwara, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Jaipur; Tamil Nadu– Chennai, Erode, Kanchipuram; Telangana– Bhadradri, Kothagudem, Hyderabad, Medchai, Ranga Reddy, Sanga Reddy; Uttar Pradesh– Agra, GB Nagar, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Lakhimpur Kheri, Lucknow; Uttarakhand– Dehradun; West Bengal– Kolkata, North 24 Parganas
Monday, 23 March 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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