Closer to lockdown: Gatherings of over 50 banned in Delhi amid virus spread

Railway workers disinfect the coaches of Delhi –Jammu Rajdhani Express. PTI
With coronavirus cases swelling in the country, a Group of Ministers (GoM) on Monday proposed various measures, including the closure of all educational institutions, gymnasiums, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools, and theatres across the country. The government also banned the entry of passengers from countries in the European Union, Turkey, and the UK from March 18 till March 31.

The latest steps in the fight cased the coronavirus pandemic came as the number of positive cases in India reached at least 114 (there were reports of several active cases at the time of going to press). Fresh cases were witnessed in Odisha, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Kerala, and Telangana. From Delhi to Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra, state governments moved another step towards imposing a lockdown.

In Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said religious, social, cultural and political gatherings, as well as protests comprising more than 50 people, will not be allowed in the national capital until March 31. The city has been witnessing sit-in protests at Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Millia Islamia against the new citizenship law for over 90 days. He also announced the closure of gyms, nightclubs, and spas for this month. 

The Uttar Pradesh government, too, shut down multiplexes, cinema halls, and clubs in 11 districts, including Lucknow and those along the Nepal border, till March 31. The state government had recently ordered the closure of schools and colleges until March 22.  

Tamil Nadu also joined scores of states in closing down educational institutions, public events, and large gatherings. Access to theatres, malls, amusement parks, swimming pools, gymnasiums, and zoos, too, have been barred.

Passengers wear protective face masks in wake of novel coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic at New Delhi Railway Station. PTI
In Maharashtra, the number of cases mounted to 39, according to reports. The Uddhav Thackeray government extended the restriction to tiger safaris and appealed for no crowding at religious sites. Even as capital Mumbai remained under a partial lockdown, the chief minister said he had no plans for imposing such measures in other cities of the state.  The famous Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai was also closed for devotees.

The number of cases in Kerala went up to 27, with three more individuals (two from Malappuram and one from Kasaragod) being tested positive.

In Bihar, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar extend an ex-gratia payment of ~4 lakh to the next of kin of those who die from the virus. Chhattisgarh termed the Centre’s current criteria to test coronavirus as “too restrictive” and demanded that it allow more centres to carry out tests.

Intensifying its measures to fight the virus, the GoM held its seventh meeting in the evening and proposed a set of social-distancing measures to be in force till March 31.  Students should be advised to stay at home and online education should be promoted, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Aggarwal said. “Non-essential travel should be avoided. Buses, trains and aeroplanes to maximise social distancing in public transport, besides ensuring proper disinfection of services,” he added.

Global deaths surpass 7,000; EU bans non-essential travel

*MCA office to remain closed till March 21 
*BCCI tells employees to work from home 
*Budget session of Parliament to continue as per schedule
*Macroeconomic outlook vulnerable to disruption of trade with China, says FinMin
*SC takes note of overcrowding in prisons, seeks info from all states 
*Three more cases in Kerala, number goes up to 24
*All ASI-protected monuments, central museums across India to be shut
*Time for reflection, strategy review,  says Anand Mahindra
*Mainland China reported an overall drop in new infections
*EU proposed a temporary halt to non-essential travel 
*Malaysia bans all visitors, and residents are barred from travelling overseas
*Philippine markets cut trading hours  

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