The Centre on Tuesday advised all its departments and ministries to install thermal scanners and set up mandatory sanitiser dispensers at the entry of their buildings to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The circular, issued by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, further listed some precautionary measures and practices for all government employees.

To discourage visitors into government buildings, the Centre ordered the immediate suspension of routine issuance of temporary and visitor passes to outsiders. “Only those visitors who have proper permission of the officer who they want to meet, should be allowed after being properly screened,” it said.

The Centre advised that all gyms, recreational centres and creches in government office complexes be closed. It asked for meetings to be held through video conferencing as far as feasible, and to be rescheduled if they involve large number of people. Workers in government departments were asked to avoid all non-essential official travel.

Listing out the symptoms of the COVID-19 infection, the central government said that any employee who exhibits them must inform their reporting officers and leave immediately for self-imposed quarantine at home. “The leave sanctioning authorities are advised to sanction leave whenever any request is made for self-quarantine as a precautionary measure,” the advisory said.

The Centre made a special appeal to employees who are more vulnerable to contracting the virus such as old people, pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions to take extra precautions. “The Ministries and Departments may take care not to expose such employees to any front-line work requiring direct contact with the public,” the government said.

Many Indian states have declared a lockdown of schools, colleges, gyms and swimming pools. The government has also advised that people avoid non-essential travel and employees of private companies work from home. These measures are an attempt to enforce distance between people, a proven way to slow pandemics.

India recorded its third death from the global pandemic on Tuesday after a patient died in Maharashtra. The novel coronavirus has infected at least 175,536 people, and killed 7,007 worldwide, according to an estimate from Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking cases reported by the World Health Organization and additional sources. China has the highest number of fatalities at 3,213, followed by Italy with 2,158 deaths and almost 28,000 cases.