India’s govt decides to shutdown 75 coronavirus-hit districts across the country

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election rally in Amreli, near Ahmedabad. More than 157 million of the country's 900 million voters are eligible to cast ballots on the second of seven days of voting in the world's biggest election. Photo: AFP. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

NEW DELHI, Mar 22, 2020, India Today. As India reported a surge in Covid-19 cases and two more deaths on Sunday, the Centre and state governments have decided to completely lock down 75 districts across the country where coronavirus cases have been reported, officials said on Sunday, India Today reported.

It has also been decided to suspend the interstate bus services till March 31, the officials said.

The decisions have been taken at a high-level meeting attended by chief secretaries of all states and the cabinet secretary and the principal secretary to the prime minister.

“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, including interstate transport buses till March 31,” a Union Home Ministry official said.

“State governments will issue orders allowing only essential services to operate in about 75 districts with confirmed Covid-19 cases or casualties,” the official said.

The districts where lockdown was announced are from states that include Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

It was noted that several state governments have already issued orders in this regard. All the chief secretaries informed that there was an overwhelming and spontaneous response to the call for ‘Janata curfew’ given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The state governments may expand the list depending on their assessment of the situation.

In the meeting, it was decided to suspend all train services till March 31, including suburban rail services. However, goods trains are exempted. All metro rail services were also suspended till March 31.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai has announced clampdown in nine districts in the state — Bangalore urban, Bangalore rural, Mangalore, Mysore, Kalburgi, Dharwad, Chikkaballapura, Kodagu, Belgaum — where only essential services will work. He said that inter-district transportation across the nine districts will be suspended till March 31.

Basavaraj Bommai further said that industries should use only 50 per cent of labour if needed during this global crisis.

Moreover, sources said that the lockdown situation is likely in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad, from where novel coronavirus positive cases have been reported.

Sunday noon, Section 144 was imposed in Maharashtra and Delhi, authorities announced that metro services across the nation will be suspended till March 31 in a bid to contain the virus spread.

Health Ministry Joint Secretary Luv Agrawal, during a press conference on Sunday, advised districts, from where Covid-19 cases have been reported, to call for a lockdown, however, he said, groceries, fire services, food and milk should still be available for people. He said that states must decide on essential services.

According to the Union health ministry, the total number of novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 341 on Sunday after fresh cases were reported from Telangana, Punjab and Tamil Nadu.

Millions of people across the country stayed indoors, streets wore a deserted look and bare number of vehicles were on the road on Sunday in an unprecedented shutdown on Modi’s appeal for a ‘Janata curfew’ to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed over 13,000 lives worldwide.

(With inputs from Nagarjun, Snehanshu, PTI)

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