Health Ministry proposes India lockdown, orders closure of colleges , universities, etc. till 31st March to prevent Corona spread
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As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases crossed 120 in India, the Centre on Monday proposed detailed social distancing measures that included urging states to close down all schools, universities, theatres, swimming pools, gyms and museums till March 31 while “exploring the possibility of postponing all examinations.” The government also said that ongoing examinations should be conducted after ensuring distance of one meter amongst students. Students should be advised to stay at home and online education should be promoted, it added.
"Social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection prevention and control intervention implemented to avoid or decrease contact between those who are infected with a disease-causing pathogen and those who are not, so as to stop or slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community," the advisory by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said.
After a detailed discussion, social distancing measures as a preventive strategy have been proposed for implementation. These measures are a preventive step to contain COVID-19 in the country and will be temporary measure in force till March 31st, 2020. The important measures include:
- Closure of all educational establishments (schools, universities etc), gyms, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres. Students should be advised to stay at home. Online education to be promoted.
- Non-essential travel should be avoided. Buses, Trains and aeroplanes to maximize social distancing in public transport besides ensuring regular and proper disinfection of surfaces.
- Encourage private sector organizations/employers to allow employees to work from home wherever feasible.
- Meetings, as far as feasible, shall be done through video conferences. Minimize or reschedule meetings involving large number of people unless necessary.
- Restaurants to ensure hand washing protocol and proper cleanliness of frequently touched surfaces. Ensure physical distancing (minimum 1metre) between tables; encourage open air seating where practical with adequate distancing.
- Local authorities to have a dialogue with organizers of sporting events and competitions involving large gatherings and they may be advised to postpone such events.
- Local authorities to have a dialogue with opinion leaders and religious leaders to regulate mass gatherings and should ensure no overcrowding/at least one metre distance between people.
- Local authorities to have meeting with traders associations and other stakeholders to regulate hours, exhibit Do’s and Don’ts, and take up a communication drive in market places like sabzi mandi, anaj mandi, bus depots, railway stations, post-offices etc., where essential services are provided.
- Keep communities informed consistently and constantly.
The economic implications of all this will be clearer in the days to come but RBI governor Shaktikanta Das in an unprecedented inter-monetary-policy-committee meeting admitted that India is not immune to this pandemic as more than 100 cases have been reported.
"Efforts are being mounted by the govt on war-footing. COVID-19 could impact India directly through trade channels, in which exposure to China is relatively high," Das said.
The Ministry of Tourism also ordered closure of all national monuments and museums till 31st March with immediate effect. Similar measures have been proposed in states of Tamil Nadu, Tripura, UP, Delhi, etc.
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