80 districts in lockdown to contain virus spread-THE HINDU-23-03-2020
Unprecedented restrictions were imposed in 80 districts across 17 States and five Union Territories affected by the pandemic. The Union Health Ministry said Bihar and Gujarat had reported their first casualties from COVID-19.
Only essential services:
“State governments will issue orders allowing only essential services to operate in districts with confirmed COVID-19 cases. The focus should be on closure of all activities except essential services such as hospitals, telecom, medicine shops and provision stores,” an official release said. Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba described the new measures as further “pre-emptive” actions, given the “sharp increase” in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country after curbs on international travel, contact tracing and efforts at social distancing. Gauba, in a letter to the Chief Secretaries, said the States need to “build on the momentum” of the 14-hour lockdown.
Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said the nature of “essential services” would be decided by the individual States. Agarwal was clear that more districts could be brought under curbs if they were affected by COVID-19. According to him, the lockdown was temporary in nature. Barring essential services like hospitals, fire, prisons, banks and newspapers, States were conscious to ensure that the production and provisioning of medical supplies continued uninterrupted, he said.
According to the Health Ministry, Maharashtra continues with the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases at 67, followed by Kerala with 52 and Delhi, 29. Uttar Pradesh had 27 cases, Karnataka has 26, Rajasthan 24, Telangana 22 and Haryana 21. The Delhi Government closed its borders to Uttar Pradesh and Haryana and announced it would run a skeletal bus service.