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India ready for self-imposed curfew

India ready for self-imposed curfew


New Delhi: Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal for a 'Janata Curfew' to contain the spread of COVID-19, the nation is all set to observe an unannounced 'lockdown' on Sunday from 7 am to 9 pm.

During the self-imposed 'lockdown', the people would voluntarily stay indoors, while public transport, including Railways, will be suspended and all markets, shops — except those dealing in essential items — will be closed too.

Leading from the front, the Union Health Ministry has made it a must for all hospitalised patients with pneumonia to go for Coronavirus testing after the country reported a rise in the number of confirmed cases. The ministry has operationalised a total of 111 testing labs across the country.

As per the new testing norm released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), all the contacts need to be tested even if they are perfectly okay and do not display any COVID-19 symptoms.

It also stated that those who come in direct or high-risk contact with a COVID-19 confirmed case should also be tested between the fifth and 14th day of coming in contact with the confirmed case.

On Saturday, the total number of confirmed cases reached 315, out of which 288 are active, 39 foreign nationals, 23 have been discharged and four dead.

Parliamentarian Dushyant Singh, who had partied with Kanika Kapoor – now COVID-19 positive, has been tested negative, while the test report of his mother Vasundhara Raje is still awaited.

To ensure proper observation of 'Janata Curfew', Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla asked Chief Secretaries of all states to see that local bodies, fire services, police and civil defence blow sirens or ring bells on Sunday evening to express gratitude towards those involved in tackling the disease.

Meanwhile, cutting across party lines, Chief Ministers and other leaders have urged the people to follow the self-imposed curfew, noting that "social distancing" was the key to break the chain of infection. States like Maharashtra, Odisha and Bihar have already imposed partial lockdown till month-end.

No passenger train will originate from any railway station in the country from Saturday midnight to 10 pm on Sunday while all suburban train services will be reduced to a bare minimum as well. Metro services, including in Delhi, will remain suspended for the day.

Air carriers including GoAir, IndiGo and Vistara have announced domestic operations curtailment on Sunday.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, who appealed to the people of the state to stay indoors on Sunday, has announced to provide one-month ration to about one lakh wage labourers in the state.

The Centre has also capped MRP of hand sanitisers at Rs 100 per 200ml bottle till June 30. Similarly, the price of a 2 ply (surgical) mask has been capped at Rs 8 and that of 3 ply (surgical) mask at Rs 10 till June 30.

In a shocking revelation, it has been noted that 12 people, who have travelled by two different trains recently have tested positive for Coronavirus. Eight passengers had travelled from Delhi to Ramagundam on AP Sampark Kranti Express on March 13 and four had travelled on Godan Express from Mumbai to Jabalpur on March 16.

The HRD ministry has also advised all educational institutions to let students who are still in hostels to stay put and take necessary precautions.

As panic and fear of COVID-19 cases rise, 13 of the 14 Italian tourists who were found to be positive and had been shifted to Gurugram multi-superspecialty hospital from Delhi have now recovered.

The news was confirmed by Gurugram Chief Medical officer Dr. J S Punia. The cured patients have been told to follow certain guidelines and be in isolation.

In an important development, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has fixed the rate of COVID-19 testing to be conducted by private labs. As per an ICMR official, the maximum cost of testing samples should not exceed Rs 4,500, which includes Rs 1,500 as a screening test for suspect cases and an additional Rs 3,000 for the confirmation test. However, the official said free or subsidised testing is encouraged.

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