India remains in Stage 2 of the COVID-19 outbreak with no evidence yet of local transmission but the Indian government is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the country does not progress to Stage 3. In line with that the Ministry of Health on Thursday announced a series of measures and rules to come into effect to help contain the spread of the virus:
1. No scheduled international commercial passenger aircraft shall take off from any foreign airport for any airport in India, after 0001 hrs GMT of March 22, 2020 (i.e. 0531 hrs IST) of March 22, 2020. This will remain in effect till 0001 hrs GMT of March 29, 2020.
2. No incoming scheduled international commercial passenger aircraft shall be allowed to disembark its passengers on Indian soil (Foreigner or Indian) after 2001 hrs GMT of March 22, 2020 ( 0131 hrs IST of March 23, 2020).
3. States to issue directions to the private sector to consider work from home wherever feasible. There should be regulating of hours in all services except for essential services. Industrial establishments to consider staggered timings and regulation of crowd in the market should also be resorted to.
4. All educational institutions, theatres, museums, gyms, exam centers to be closed temporarily.
5. States to take necessary actions to ensure that all sporting events, competitions and religious gatherings be postponed and required social distance maintained in smaller gatherings.
6. Public transport - metros, railways, buses and airplanes shall consider decrease in frequency of their services, alternate seating to ensure social distancing along with effective disinfection and crowd management in railway stations, metro stations, bus stands, and airports.
7. All citizens above 65 years except for public representatives/government servants/medical professionals advised to remain at home. Similarly, all children below 10 years of age should be advised to remain at home and avoid going to public parks, picnics and other games requiring a large number of participants.
8. In consultation with medical professionals, detailed advisory to be issued for all health establishments to avoid non-urgent hospitalization and minimize elective surgeries.
India reports fourth COVID-19 death
India's fourth coronavirus death has occured in Punjab, according to media reports. A 70-year-old man who returned from Germany via Italy a fortnight ago has reportedly died in hospital after severe chest pain. His reports were subsequently found to be positive for novel coronavirus, as per senior officials.
Media reports are putting the number of confirmed cases in the country at 173 as of March 19.
News agency PTI is also reporting that an Indian man who had the coronavirus in Iran has died.