Delhi borders sealed.

Delhi borders sealed.

Nation in total lockdown to keep Covid out; Delhi borders sealed, curfew

Maha number of cases highest; 3 dead, 97 afflicted; Bengaluru ban

Agency Report | New Delhi/Mumbai/Bengaluru | 23 March, 2020 | 11:00 PM

Thirty states and Union territories declare a lockdown as the country records its ninth death linked to the highly contagious coronavirus. Overall, 471 people have tested positive for the virus in the country -- 75 of them in the last 24 hours. Two persons have died, one in Bengal and the other in Himachal Pradesh. As reports of infection came in from all the key states, the Centre tightens its clampdown with a ban on domestic flights and warned of legal action against rule-breakers. Punjab, which had thousands of expats heading for home, declares curfew. So does Maharashtra, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases. In Kolkata, the 57-year-old who died at a private hospital did not have any travel history, raising concern about the chain of transmission of the virus. Thirty states, covering 548 districts announce a complete lockdown, partial curbs in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. This includes 80 districts, where COVID-19 cases have been confirmed.

In order to overcome the coronavirus epidemic, the lockdown on Monday saw little impact in Delhi even as Police Commissioner S.N. Shrivastava issued orders to strictly follow section 144.

The order issued from Delhi Police Headquarters said that those working in private institutions in Delhi will be mandatorily required to take a ‘curfew-pass’. The nearest district DCP office will issue the curfew pass. While those entering Delhi (Gurugram, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida) outside the national capital border, the curfew pass will have to be issued by the Police DCP office of their nearest Delhi district.

The order to this effect was issued by the Delhi Police Commissioner at around 8.45 pm on Monday night. Those living in Gurugram-Manesar (Haryana) will have to contact the DCP office in the South West district of Nelson Mandela Road in Vasant Vihar area of Delhi for curfew pass.

Those coming to Delhi from Faridabad will have to contact the DCP office at Sarita Vihar for curfew pass. Similarly, those coming to Delhi from Ghaziabad will have to go to Shalimar Park, Bholanath Nagar, DCP office in Shahdara district. While those coming from Noida to Delhi will have to contact the DCP office of Eastern District located at Mandavali Fazalpur IP Extension.

Those coming to Delhi from Sonipat in Haryana will have to go to the office located in Samaipur Badli of outer-north Delhi district DCP. Whereas those coming to Delhi from Bahadurgarh and Jhajjar in Haryana will have to contact the DCP office of outer Delhi located in Pushpanjali Enclave of Pitampura for curfew pass.

Delhi Police spokesperson Anil Mittal said that “As per this order issued by the police commissioner, government employees will not need a curfew pass. If required, it will be mandatory to show the identity card issued by the office.”

He said, “There is no need to issue curfew passes to mediapersons and journalists. Yes, journalists have to show their identity cards when asked by the police.”

Maharashtra on Monday became the first state in India to impose ‘total lockdown’ against Covid-19 as the coronavirus toll in the state reached three. The number of cases has reached 97, with two being critical.

Making the announcement, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the government was compelled to invoke the ‘sancharbandi’ (curfew) measure as all appeals to the masses to remain indoors fell on deaf ears.

“We are enforcing ‘sancharbandi’ (curfew) for the entire state from midnight tonight (Monday). We have reached a critical stage in the ‘war against virus’, but the next few days are extremely crucial,” Thackeray said.

According to legal experts, the move tantamount to a more stringent ‘lockdown’, but for certain concessions allowed it’s a watered-down version of ‘sancharbandi’ (curfew) which only the district magistrates can impose.

The move came a day after Thackeray declared a near-total state lockdown till March 31, and also implemented prohibitory orders at nagar panchayats to combat Covid-19, with Maharashtra notching the second highest spread in India.

“If we don’t take tough steps now, we may face a situation similar to other countries. Our repeated appeals seem to have had no impact. So we are forced to implement a ‘sancharbandi’,” Thackeray said.

Interestingly, the government’s move came hours after the Microbiologists Society India (MSI) head A.M. Deshmukh warned of India possibly hurtling towards a catastrophe facing Italy, Iran if crowds were not controlled by imposing total ‘janata curfew’ for 14 days.

Thackeray said to insulate a few districts, which had escaped the coronavirus wrath, there would be a complete ban on inter-district travel, in the public interest.

Since midnight (March 22-23), the state in under a near-total lockdown with even the Mumbai suburban trains stopped as part of the Railway Ministry’s directive on Sunday, besides all public transport closed in the state.

Now, extending the ban to even private vehicles, Thackeray said the bare minimum movement would be permitted for only emergencies or essential services.

“For instance, in private vehicles, only the driver and one-two persons will be allowed and in an autorickshaw, driver plus one, but that too only for emergencies. No entry to any temple, mosque, church or any religious place will be permitted except for the pujari, Maulvi or priest,” Thackeray said.

He reiterated his daily plea to the people not to take the issue lightly. “Please do not play with your health, others’ health, do not step out unless it’s absolutely necessary”.

Additionally, the prohibitory orders already clamped since Sunday would be enforced strictly but Thackeray assured that all essentials like food, vegetables, milk, pharmacies, bakeries would function normally.

Earlier today, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and Home Minister Anil Deshmukh issued statements hinting at the possibility of stern steps like a curfew if people didn’t heed government warnings.

Officials said the decision was prompted after the number of Covid-19 positive cases zoomed from 53 to 97 in barely 72 hours, besides claiming two persons, including a Philippines national in the past 48 hours in Mumbai, rattling the authorities.

Worse, all three deaths have so far occurred in Mumbai with a population of around 17 million, and a majority of the positive cases are centred in the dense Mumbai-Pune belt accounting for nearly two-thirds of the infected persons, and many are now turning out to be ‘first contact’ cases without any history of foreign travel.

To cope up with the growing load, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said in the next four days, all government medical colleges in the state would be equipped with testing facilities.

In a turn for the worse, a COVID-19 patient from the Philippines died, taking the total toll in Maharashtra to 3, while positive cases further shot up to 97, officials said here on Monday.

The deceased – the third victim of coronavirus in the past five days in Mumbai – was a 68-year-old man who initially tested positive and later negative after apparent recovery.

He was admitted to the Kasturba Hospital 10 days ago and post-recovery when he tested negative, moved to a private hospital where he succumbed late on Sunday.

“The patient was a case of diabetes mellitus and asthma. He was admitted on March 13. He had developed acute renal failure and respiratory distress,” the Kasturba Hospital said in a statement today.

Among the new positive cases, 17 are from Mumbai, four from Sangli, and one each from Pune and Satara, rattling the health authorities, as Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray clamped a complete lockdown in the state this evening.

“The new cases include many close contacts or family members of earlier positive cases and 8 with travel history to affected countries,” an official said of the 38 cases jump in just three days.

The test results of around 200 other suspected cases are expected shortly, as announced by Health Minister Rajesh Tope earlier.

The figures shot up even as Tope warned that the state stood on the threshold of a ‘multiplication stage’ of the virus and emphasized the need for people to maintain ‘social distancing’.

“This is the stage to exercise extreme precautions since we don’t want to enter from Phase II to Phase III at any cost,” Tope reiterated, urging people to strictly remain indoors as ‘isolation’ is the key to battling the COVID-19 virus spread.

Today’s is the biggest single-day spurt of positive cases – from 53 on Friday to 64 on Saturday to 74 on Sunday and now 97 on Monday, the second-highest in the country after Kerala.

City police enforced a ban to ensure complete lockdown in Bengaluru till March 31 to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

“As directed by the state government to enforce the lockdown completely, assembling of more than five persons in public places will be banned across the city from Tuesday till March 31 under section 144 of the Cr PC,” Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao told reporters here.

The ban order will not allow passenger vehicles to enter or exit the city.

The police commissioner said that the movement of all private vehicles will be monitored by the police.

Takeaway services at restaurants are also banned, including revoking permission for darshinis or hotel across the city to operate.

Similarly, all bars, pubs and restaurants will be shut.

Rao ordered all paying guest houses and lodges in the city to shut down till March 31.

All the city flyovers will be shut, city borders sealed, ride-hailing apps Ola and Uber will also not offer rides, including taxis and autorickshaws.

Religious places such as temples, churches and mosques will also remain closed during the ban order.

All shops will be closed except those selling essential products and services.

The ban order will also not allow children to play in the streets.

The top cop said legal action will be initiated against people trying to mislead the police. (IANS)