Janata Curfew in Mind, States Impose Near-total Lockdown as Coronavirus Cases See Rapid Rise
The total number of coronavirus positive cases on Saturday night touched 315 with the deaths of four individuals — one each in Punjab, Maharashtra, Delhi, and Karnataka.
A sign pasted on a security barricade at the India Gate war memorial in New Delhi. (Reuters)
New Delhi: Even before the countdown of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's announced 'Janata Curfew' begins from 7am on Sunday, many cities and states have already enforced a local lockdown as the number of Covid-19 cases saw a rapid increase across the country.
The total number of positive cases on Saturday night touched 315, with four reported deaths — one each in Punjab, Maharashtra, Delhi, and Karnataka.
The latest state to impose drastic measures and a complete lockdown is Rajasthan. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday evening announced the shutdown of public transport, malls and shops.
During the lockdown, essential services will continue to be provided, said Gehlot who also announced measures like distribution of food packets to the economically weaker families.
"Essential services will function under this lockdown, but all state and private offices, malls, shops, factories and public transport will be closed. To cope with this global epidemic, it is very important for people to stay in their homes," he said.
Maharashtra, which has reported the highest number of cases at 63, including three foreigners, has ordered sectoral shutdown put in place in major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Nagpur. The Akola district administration ordered a shutdown between March 22 and 24 during which all establishments except those selling essential items will remain closed.
Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced a shutdown of all restaurants, bars, clubs, amusement parks and museums till March 31. She also announced strict measures against people found assembling in large numbers. Four people have tested positive in the state.
Odisha announced a week-long lockdown of 40% of the state, including Bhubaneswar, its twin city of Cuttack and many other industrial towns through a video message released by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Karnataka, where two more cases were tested positive on Saturday, taking the total number of confirmed patients to 14, announced a partial lockdown beginning from Sunday till the end of the month.
Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa announced the decision after a cabinet meeting on Sunday. Mass gatherings of more than 150 people have been banned. The state has constituted a task force to monitor the effects of the spread of the virus on a daily basis, and Rs 200 crore has been kept aside to develop facilities like isolation wards.
Other south Indian states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana have also announced a lockdown of educational institutions, malls and other places that attract people in large numbers.
Kerala is the worst hit state in the southern part of the country with the total number of positive cases at 36.
In Uttar Pradesh, a total of 26 positive cases have been reported, including five people in Noida. The city of Kanpur and Lucknow have gone into a virtual lockdown since famous singer Kanika Kapoor tested positive for coronavirus.
The Gujarat government also said that shops selling non-essential items will remain closed in the state's four largest cities till 25 March, while government offices will operate at half strength on a rotational basis till 29 March.
Chief Minister Vijay Rupani announced lockdown of Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, and Rajkot. Fourteen cases have been reported in the state.
Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal who has already announced some measures like reducing number of buses on the roads, shutdown of cinema halls, on Sunday in his first-ever digital press conference said his government was considering lockdown of the national capital in future and ban on assembly of five or more people, if the situation did not improve. Assam reported its first coronavirus positive case of a four-and-a-half-year-old girl in Jorhat.
In Bihar, where no positive case has been reported yet, the Nitish Kumar-led government has ordered shutting down of bus services, restaurants and banquet halls across the state till March 31 to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Goa government imposed section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) across the state to prohibit large gatherings. Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said the state government has also issued an order banning inter-state transport, except for the supply of essential commodities, from Saturday night onwards.
Goa shares borders with Maharashtra and Karnataka, where several people have tested positive for coronavirus infection.
Meanwhile, the PM issued a series of tweets in Hindi, a day before 'Janata Curfew' kicks in from 7am to 9pm, urging people to stay away from crowded places like railway stations and bus stands to avoid the risk of spreading virus.
"I request all to stay in their respective cities. This way, we can stop this disease from spreading further. We are playing with our help by crowding place like bus stands and railway stations. Please think about your family and yourself, don't step out if not necessary," Modi said in a tweet in Hindi.
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