As part of the Narendra Modi government’s continuous efforts to stop the increasing infection of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID) in the country, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has issued several necessary instructions to institutions and business centres across the country, among which includes the shutting down of all education centres and malls. Joint Secretary in MoH Lav Agarwal said on Monday that all schools, swimming pools, malls etc in the country will be closed by 31 March.
Employees should be allowed to work from home, with less use of public transport, the official said. The MoH has issued a new helpline number 1075 for citizens to seek information and help in cases related to the coronavirus disease.
The old helpline number 011-23978046 will continue functioning.
States asked to shut schools, religious leaders not to organise congregations
To stop the spread of COVID, the central government has appealed to religious leaders to avoid such events in which large numbers of people gather.
The centre has issued instructions for all states as well — to close all schools, colleges and gymnasia across the country. As a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection in the country, people have been instructed to avoid gathering in large numbers at any place.
53 more Indians return home from Iran
The joint secretary said that the fourth batch of 53 more Indians from Iran has reached home. All are under special surveillance in Jaisalmer under the protocol for quarantine, he said.
Agarwal said that there had been four new cases of COVID in the country. One case each has been confirmed in Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Kerala.
At present, there are 114 confirmed cases in the country. More than 5,200 people who had come in contact with them have been identified and kept under surveillance.
So far, 13 patients infected with COVID have recovered while two have died.
Travellers from EU, Turkey, UK banned
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), meanwhile, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken an extraordinary initiative with the SAARC leaders on Sunday and that the leaders of the member countries have responded positively to the move.
The MEA has started a control room to deal with cases of COVID that require dealing with other countries. This call centre will work for 24 hours.
Travel restrictions have been extended to prevent COVID from spreading to high-risk areas. Passengers from the European Union, Turkey and Britain have been banned from 18 March until further orders.
The MEA retweeted other tweets of the MoH like this one: “Expanding compulsory quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days for passengers coming from/transiting through #UAE, #Qatar, #Oman, and #Kuwait. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 18th March 2020 at the port of (the) first departure.”
And this: “Travel of passengers from member countries of the #EuropeanUnion, the #EuropeanFreeTradeAssociation, #Turkey and #UnitedKingdom to #India is prohibited with effect from 18th March 2020.”
Foreign ministry issues helpline number
The Ministry of External Affairs released a helpline number on Monday for COVID-related inquiries. The ministry is taking all measures to ensure the safety of Indians living abroad including the creation of a special cell to fight the outbreak in India.
Foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar tweeted, seeking everyone’s cooperation.
The helpline for COVID-19 Control Centre will function 24×7.
|Control room: 1800118797 (toll free), + 91-11-23012113, + 91-11-23014104, + 91-11-23017905|
Fax number: + 91-011-23018158
Email address: [email protected]
The government has appointed Additional Secretary Damu Ravi to coordinate COVID-related responses. It has appointed four other officers and employees to assist him.
No panic in marketplaces
Meanwhile, marketplaces in India show some signs of public concern but no panic. Sirf News went to the busy Laxmi Nagar Market this morning and found a business-as-usual atmosphere there even as all shopkeepers we met asked us to use hand sanitisers while handling things. Masked people were few and far between.
Mumbai was crowded as usual in the afternoon.
Nagpur showed no sign of paranoia.
Our correspondent in Bengaluru, however, reported a heavy decline in footfall in the local markets.
The Jadavpur University campus bore a deserted look after the varsity management shut it down following the government order.
Chennai saw many masked faces but no panic-striken reaction.
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