PM to address nation, all flight operations stopped, immigration check posts sealed
Geetanjali Minhas | March 24, 2020 | Mumbai
India is making an all-out effort to save a billion-plus people from the outbreak of COVID-19, bringing most parts of the country under curfew and lockdown, as the number of people affected by the Novel Coronavirus reached 491 Tuesday morning, with nine deaths.
Prime minister Narendra Modi is slated to address the nation Tuesday evening – his second address after last Thursday. He tweeted that he would speak to citizens on “some vital aspects relating to the menace of COID-19”.
As many as 30 states and union territories are at a standstill. Maharashtra continued to report highest single-day cases with 15 people testing positive on Monday. There are now 97 active cases including eight new cases out of which six have a travel history.
In Mumbai, besides two government hospitals, Kasturba and KEM where tests are being conducted, Indian council of medical research (ICMR) has mandated four private hospitals and laboratories, Thyrocare Mumbai, Suburban Diagnostics Mumbai, Metropolis Healthcare Ltd and Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital and Research Centre for treating COVID-19 patients.
The BMC on Monday stated that it is starting home testing facilities within 48 hours with a helpline number for citizens. It also said it will also seek stipulated guidelines from ICMR for the home testing process.
“Once the helpline is established, the doctor on call will take the history of the caller and depending on his or her travel history, contact history and symptoms and categories the patient after which home collection will be facilitated. After this if a test is required a private lab will be coordinated for home testing of the citizen,” said the BMC statement.
The home tests will ensure that people do not come out of their house for getting themselves tested. At present calls are being made to the home quarantine travelers and if symptomatic, testing facilities are offered through private labs registered with the ICMR.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said that since people were ignoring government requests and not taking precautions his government was imposing a complete lockdown across the state sealing all district borders other than for movement of essential and perishable commodities. The government on Monday imposed prohibitionary orders banning congregation of more than five people. On Sunday the state had sealed all its borders .Banks, ATMs, insurance, fintech and related services, print and electronic media ,IT and ITeS including telecom, postal, internet and data services, supply chain and transport of essential commodities, export and import of agricultural goods and products and all commodities have been excluded.
Thirty states / UTs are now under complete lockdown, barring states of UP, MP and Odisha where certain areas have been locked down. In Lakshadweep partial lockdown is imposed in one district with only movement of passenger ships banned while Sikkim and Mizoram are yet to issue orders.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation also stopped domestic and commercial operation of all flights except those carrying cargo. By late Monday evening the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a statement ordering the stopping of all passenger traffic on all 107 immigration check posts including all airport ICPs, all sea port ICPs, all land ports ICP’s, all rail ports ICP’s and all river port ICP’s, exempting vehicles and trains carrying goods for trade or essential goods and supplies along with their crew, driver, helper, cleaner etc, subject to their thorough screening by medical staff for COVID-19.
Globally, the coronavirus pandemic has claimed over 14,000 lives. There are around 3,50,000 confirmed cases. Europe has had over 9,000 fatalities and the number is increasing by the day. Italy is the hardest hit country with 6,078 deaths, followed by China, the epicentre of the new virus, with around 3,300 deaths and Spain with 2,182 deaths. The US has reported over 16,000 fresh Covid-19 cases.
The WHO’s global risk assessment of COVID -19 is very high. On Monday IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva said that world economy is facing "severe" economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic that could be even more costly than in 2008 and will require an unprecedented response.
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