Coronavirus india ; Centre and state governments decided to completely lockdown 75 districts ,death toll rises to 7; cases 360

The Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Shri Lav Agarwal addressing a press conference. 

New Delhi, 22 March 2020. -Cabinet Secretary reviews COVID-19 status with Chief Secretaries of States; important decisions taken to check the disease. -suspend all passenger trains and inter-state bus services. The death toll due to the novel coronavirus pandemic rose to seven in the country, including the first casualties from Bihar and Gujarat, and the number of COVID-19 cases rose to 360 as fresh cases were reported from various parts of the country on Sunday.

Important Decisions:

The following important decisions were taken:

·         All train services suspended till 31st March 2020 including sub-urban rail services.  However, goods trains are exempted.

·         All metro rail services suspended till 31st March 2020.  State Governments to issue orders allowing only essential services to operate in about 75 districts with confirmed COVID 19 cases.

·         Inter State passenger transport also to be suspended till 31st March 2020.

Authorities suspended all passenger trains and inter-state bus services till March 31 in unprecedented steps to contain the spread of the infection. Gujarat, Bihar and Maharahstra reported a death each on Sunday, while four deaths were earlier reported from Karnataka, Delhi, Maharashtra and Punjab, the Union Health Ministry said.  The total number of active COVID-19 cases across the country stands at 329 so far, and 24 people have been cured/discharged/migrated, while seven have died, taking total number of cases to 360, including 41 foreign nationals, the Health Ministry said. 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, but the Union Health Ministry was yet to confirm the deaths. Another death was reported from Mumbai of a 63-year-old man. As the virus cases climbed, the Central and state governments decided to lock down 75 districts from where COVID-19 cases have been reported to break the chain of transmission, and the Health Ministry said states would earmark hospitals to exclusively treat coronavirus patients. Millions of people stayed indoors to observe a “Janta Curfew on Sunday after an appeal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to break the chain of transmission, but they stood outside their homes or in their balconies at 5 pm to thank the health workers at the forefront of the fight against the virus.

Beating bells, metal vessels and conchs, people acknowledged the services of the thousands of doctors, nurse and other medical staff leading India’s response to the deadly virus and making sure essential services remain unhindered. Prime Minister Modi thanked the people for expressing their gratitude and solidarity.

Shortly thereafter, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal 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.

Several states, including Maharashtra, Kerala, Haryana, UP, Uttarakhand and West Bengal, announced partial or complete lockdown for varying periods. Nagaland said it will impose an indefinite lockdown from midnight Sunday.

The Budget Session of Parliament is likely to be curtailed in the wake of COVID-19. The second half of the session is scheduled to adjourn on April 3.

Formal decision is to be taken on Monday, once schedule of passing of Finance Bill is finalized, Parliament sources said. It could end latest by Tuesday. 

The Finance Bill is scheduled for passage in the Lok Sabha on Monday. It has then to be transmitted to the Rajya Sabha for consideration and returning it. The Bill was on the schedule last week too but was not moved for passage.

Earlier Sunday, the Railways announced it was suspending all passenger services until March 31 and said only goods trains will run during the period.

The suspension includes all suburban train services. Trains that commenced their journey prior to 4 am on March 22 will complete their journeys, it said, adding that passengers can claim a full refund for trains cancelled during this period till June 21. The government also suspended all inter-state bus services until March 31.

The country’s largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India said it has decided to suspend production at its facilities in Haryana that churn 15.5 lakh vehicles per annum with immediate effect.The extraordinary decisions were taken by the government a day after the Railways reported three incidents (12 positive cases) of people asked to remain in quarantine travelling on trains and amid an exodus of people from urban areas to their home states, raising fears of the virus spreading to the countryside.

A Union Home Ministry official said the Centre and state governments decided to completely lockdown 75 districts.      Delhi Police said prohibitory orders have been imposed in Delhi 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.Puducherry and Chhattisgarh reported one case each.

Box :

Cabinet Secretary reviews COVID-19 status with Chief Secretaries of States; important decisions taken to check the disease

A high level meeting was held today morning with Chief Secretaries of all the States by the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. All the Chief Secretaries informed that there is overwhelming and spontaneous response to the call for Janta Curfew given by the Hon’ble Prime Minister. 

In view of the need to contain the spread of COVID 19, it was agreed that there is urgent need to extend the restrictions on the movement of non-essential passenger transport including inter-state transport buses till 31st March 2020. 

Following detailed discussions, the State Governments were advised to issue appropriate orders to allow only essential services to operate in the 75 districts which have reported confirmed cases or casualties relating to COVID 19.  The State Governments may expand the list depending on their assessment of the situation.  It was noted that several State Governments have already issued orders in this regard.

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