Most of India under lockdown
Coronavirus cases touch 415
- Published 23.03.20, 11:57 AM
- Updated 23.03.20, 4:53 PM
- 8 mins read
Much of the country was locked down on Monday with the Centre warning of legal action against those violating the restrictions enforced to curtail the pandemic, which has claimed more than 14,500 lives globally.
The Covid-19 cases in India has touched 415, the health ministry said.
Punjab on Monday became the first in the country to impose curfew in the entire state with no relaxations and only exempted essential services to prevent the infection, which has killed seven people in the country so far.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also asked state governments to ensure that rules and regulations of the coronavirus lockdown are enforced as he noted that many people are not taking the measure seriously.
"Many people are still not taking the lockdown seriously. Please save yourself, save your family, follow the instructions seriously. I request state governments to ensure rules and laws are followed," he said in a tweet in Hindi.
लॉकडाउन को अभी भी कई लोग गंभीरता से नहीं ले रहे हैं। कृपया करके अपने आप को बचाएं, अपने परिवार को बचाएं, निर्देशों का गंभीरता से पालन करें। राज्य सरकारों से मेरा अनुरोध है कि वो नियमों और कानूनों का पालन करवाएं।— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 23, 2020
Faced with unprecedented situation arising out of the coronavirus breakout, the Centre and state governments have decided to take extraordinary measures and impose restrictions.
Delhi, Jharkhand, and Nagaland declared a statewide lockdown while similar curbs were announced in a number of districts in Bihar, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Several states, including Maharashtra, Kerala, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, had earlier imposed a partial or complete lockdown.
Those living in 80 districts across the country, including in the national capital Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai have been placed under travel and movement restrictions with authorities suspending all passenger train and inter-state bus services till March 31.
The Centre has issued directions to state governments, asking them to take legal action against those who are found violating the lockdown orders.
"States have been asked to strictly enforce the lockdown in the areas where it has been announced. Legal action will be taken against violators," tweeted the Press Information Bureau, government's communication wing.
The country registered 55 fresh cases from different parts, taking the tally to 415 which includes 41 foreign nationals and seven deaths. Gujarat, Bihar and Maharashtra reported a death each on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court directed all states and UTs to set up high-level committees to determine class of prisoners who could be released on parole, in a bid to decongest prisons to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
It also said prisoners convicted of or charged with offences having jail term up to 7 years can be given parole. The court also ordered that a high-level committee should work in consultation with State Legal Service Authority for release of prisoners.
Chhattisgarh govt suspends public transport
The Chhattisgarh government on Monday ordered suspension of public and private buses, auto and e-rickshaws and taxis with immediate effect.
A letter announcing this was sent by state transport commissioner Kamalpreet Singh, an official statement here said.
Chief minister Bhupesh Baghel on Sunday evening announced a lockdown in urban areas in 28 districts till March 31, during which only those sectors dealing with essential services will be allowed to remain open.
The state government also decided to disburse two months (April and May) ration quota, including rice, sugar and salt, at one go under the Public Distribution System due to the virus outbreak, an official said.
It has granted licence for a year to two distilleries in the state to make alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
So far the state has recorded one confirmed case of coronavirus
Lok Sabha passes Finance Bill without discussion
Lok Sabha passed the Finance Bill, 2020, without any discussion on Monday as the House curtailed its sittings in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
More than 40 amendments were introduced by the government to the Finance Bill, which was moved for consideration and passing by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman. A decision to pass the Bill without any discussion was taken at an all-party meeting convened by Speaker Om Birla.
Some amendments moved by the Opposition were negated.
The Bill gives effect to the financial proposals of the central government for fiscal 2020-21. Against the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak, minister of state for parliamentary affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal said it was an “extraordinary situation” and that a decision to pass the Bill without any discussion was taken at the all-party meeting.
Meanwhile, in the Rajya Sabha, chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu announced that the Upper House will be adjourned sine die after conducting Monday's business. The Budget Session was scheduled to end on April 3.
Mumbai's local trains stopped till March 31
With the increasing number of coronavirus cases in Mumbai, the local and outstation train services have been suspended till March 31, but the government is running buses for those working in essential and emergency services, officials said on Monday.
Suburban trains are considered as the lifeline of Mumbai as over 80 lakh people travel in them everyday. The Central Railway and the Western Railway operate over 3,000 services on suburban routes daily. Nearly 43 lakh people travel by local trains of the Central Railway while 39 lakh people take the Western Railway's suburban services everyday.
”All the suburban services have been stopped from Sunday midnight till March 31,” a railway spokesperson said. However, services of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's BEST buses are operating on various routes in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
”We have operated nearly 1,940 buses till 10 am on Monday,” a BEST spokesperson said. The Railway Board on Sunday afternoon decided to suspend suburban services along with all other passenger trains to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the city and other parts of the country. This is the first time in past several decades that suburban trains have been stopped.
SC to seal lawyers' chambers
The Supreme Court on Monday said it was mulling over shutting down its functioning and considering to hear urgent matters through virtual means.
The top court said that by Tuesday evening, all lawyers' chambers in and around the apex court premises would be sealed.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde said the apex court administration would temporarily cancel all proximity cards to dissuade lawyers from coming to the court.
The bench, also comprising justices L. N. Rao and Surya Kant, said only Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president Dushyant Dave could authorise lawyers to enter the top court premises for urgent reasons.
It said there would be no gathering of lawyers on the court premises till further orders.
The Chief Justice said he would take a call on Monday itself on a possible shut down or to advance the summer vacations, as demanded by the lawyers' organisations.
The issue of shutting down the apex court's functioning was raised by the SCBA president and the members of the Supreme Court Advocates on Record Association in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Security deployed in J&K to enforce lockdown
Police personnel, wearing masks, were deployed in strength across Jammu region on Monday to enforce a lockdown to counter the spread of novel coronavirus in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The shutdown came into effect from 8pm on Sunday and will remain in force till 6pm on March 31 with only people associated with 16 essential services, including healthcare, exempted from the restrictions.
Many roads in the city and elsewhere were blocked by barbed wire to restrict the movement of the people as policemen went around localities in their vehicles fitted with public address system, warning the residents of strict action if they try to violate CrPC Section 144 that has been promulgated across the region.
"Please cooperate with the administration and stay back at your homes...strict action will be taken against anyone violating the orders by venturing out unnecessarily," a policeman in one of the vehicles was heard saying.
Jammu and Kashmir has recorded four positive cases of coronavirus -- three in Jammu and one in Kashmir -- forcing the administration to take various harsh steps, including closure of educational institutions, business establishments and public transport over the past two weeks to counter the threat.
Barring shops dealing with essential items such as groceries and medicines, the markets remained closed in Jammu and elsewhere, officials said, adding the traffic on 270-km Jammu-Srinagar national highway -- the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country -- was also restricted to vehicles carrying essential commodities only.
"There will be movement of only essential commodities vehicles on the highway from Srinagar towards Jammu for Monday," a traffic department announcement said.
Meanwhile, the government has issued an advisory to all the private establishments for non-termination of employees and workers from the job or reduce their wages in view of the virus outbreak.
"All the employees of public/private shops, establishments, industrial units, factories, mines, projects and contractors etc in the Union Territory of J&K shall not terminate their employees, particularly casual or contractual workers from job or reduce their wages.
"If any worker takes leave, he shall be deemed to be on duty without any consequential deduction in wages for this period," reads a circular issued by the Labour Commissioner, J&K, Abdul Rashid War, adding if the place of employment is to be made non-operational due to COVID-19, the employees of such units shall be deemed to be on duty.
The advisory has been issued in view of the catastrophic situation due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and consequent possible incidents where the employees/workers are not able to attend to their duties or they have no work to be done and therefore may be forced to go on leave without wages/salaries in absence of work.
"The termination of employees from the job or reduction in their wages in this scenario would further deepen the crisis and will not only weaken the financial condition of the employees but also hamper their morale to combat their fight with this pandemic," the circular said.
Cases rise to 415
The total number of COVID-19 cases in the country surged to 415, a spike from the 360 figure the night before, the health ministry said on Monday.
The figure includes 41 foreign nationals and seven deaths.
Gujarat, Bihar and Maharashtra reported a death each on Sunday. Four fatalities were reported earlier from Karnataka, Delhi, Maharashtra and Punjab, the ministry said.
The 415 figure also includes 24 people who have been cured, discharged or migrated, it said.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said 18,383 samples have been tested till 10am on Monday.
It was not immediately clear where the new cases have come from.
The total number of positive novel coronavirus cases includes 67 in Maharashtra, including three foreigners, and Kerala also at 67, with seven foreign nationals, data issued by the ministry showed.
Till Monday morning, Delhi had reported 29 positive cases, including a foreigner, while Uttar Pradesh recorded 28, also including a foreigner, it added. Rajasthan reported 27 cases, of which two are foreigners. Telangana reported 26 cases, including 11 foreigners. Karnataka has 26 coronavirus patients, the ministry said.
Cases have been reported from across the country, including from Haryana, Punjab, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Enforce lockdown: Centre to state govts
The Centre has asked state governments to strictly enforce lockdown and take legal action against violators, according to an official statement on Monday.
The Centre and state governments on Sunday decided to completely lock down 80 districts across the country where coronavirus cases have been reported till March 31.
In view of the need to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19, it was agreed that there was an urgent need to extend the restrictions on the movement of non-essential passenger transport.
Delhi will be locked down from 6 am on March 23 and continue till midnight on March 31. Some other states have also enforced lockdown.
Delhi's borders will remain sealed during the lockdown, but essential services related to health, food, water and power supply will continue, and 25 per cent of the DTC buses will run to transport people associated with essential services.
11 new cases in Gujarat
Eleven new coronavirus cases have been reported in Gujarat, taking the total number of those infected by the deadly virus in the state to 29, the state health department said on Monday.
Among the new patients, five are males and six females. Of these, five cases are of local transmission and six patients have history of recent visits to countries like Saudi Arabia, France, Sri Lankaand the UK, it said.
With this, Ahmedabad now has total 13 cases, Vadodara-six, Surat and Gandhinagar-four each, and Kutch and Rajkot-one each, the health department said.
So far, one coronavirus patient has died in the state.
The death of a 67-year-old man was reported from Surat on Sunday, it said.
He had interstate travel history and was suffering from various ailments like kidney failure and asthma, officials earlier said.