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For 1st Time in Years, Punjab Enforces Full Curfew; State's COVID-19 Victim May Have Infected Hundreds

A deserted Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Punjab government announced complete lockdown of the state in view of the coronavirus spread. (News18)

A deserted Golden Temple in Amritsar. The Punjab government announced complete lockdown of the state in view of the coronavirus spread. (News18)

Sources said strict orders were issued after reports came in that a person who died of coronavirus earlier this month could have infected many during a religious gathering.

New Delhi: Perhaps for the first time after almost three decades, a full curfew has been ordered in Punjab.

On Monday, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered a full curfew in the state with exemptions for essential services to be announced later.

While several states have announced strict measures to deal with the Covid-19 virus, Punjab became the first state in the country to impose the most severe means to stop the spread of the virus.

"After reviewing the situation with the chief secretary and DGP, the CM has announced full curfew with no relaxations," a statement issued by a government spokesperson read.

"District collectors have been asked to issue orders accordingly. Any person required to be given relaxation will be so allowed specifically for a given period and purpose," the statement added.

Sources said the strict orders were issued after reports came in that a person who died of coronavirus earlier this month could have infected many during a religious gathering. The man, Baldev Singh (70), was part of a recent gathering - Hola Mohalla celebrations - in Anandpur Sahib earlier this month.

Singh, who was a Granthi at a gurudwara in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district, had recently returned from a two-week trip to Germany via Italy.

From March 8-10, he stayed in Anandpur Sahib. After returning to his village of Pathlawa, he had personally distributed ‘prasad’ to the devotees during the Hola Mohalla celebrations.

On March 18, Singh died of Covid-19 and became the fourth victim of the pandemic in India.

According to a report in Caravan, 35 to 40 lakh people normally attend the gathering in Anandpur Sahib. Despite the ongoing public-health crisis, about 20 lakh people had come for the festival.

On Sunday, the Punjab CM wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman requesting economic support from the Centre to businesses, both in the organised and unorganised sectors, based out of Punjab.

A statement issued by a government spokesperson said, "Based on a quick assessment of the situation, the chief minister has sought immediate extension of the financial year from March 31 to April 30, for the worst-hit MSME, tourism and hospitality sectors, along with major interventions in healthcare and pharma sectors."

Singh also suggested in his letter that the food grain entitlement under National Food Security Act, 2013, be doubled from 5 kg per person per month to 10 kg per person per month.

According to latest figures, seven people have succumbed to the coronavirus in the country, while the total number of Covid-19-positive cases has jumped to 415, of whom 21 are reportedly from Punjab.