India on Monday reported two more deaths, one in Himachal Pradesh and another in West Bengal, taking the toll from the Covid-19 outbreak to nine. As many as 468 people have been infected with the coronavirus so far, of which 424 are still being treated.
The Centre had on Sunday suspended all train, metro and interstate bus services across the country till March 31 in unprecedented steps to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The government also completely shut down around 80 districts of India that have reported confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths.
On Monday, the Centre announced that all domestic flights would be suspended from Wednesday. International flights to India have already been banned. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation told airlines to ensure that passengers sit on alternate seats till Wednesday, to enforce social distancing.
In Himachal Pradesh, a 69-year-old person who recently travelled from the United States and showed possible symptoms of coronavirus died on Monday. A patient at a hospital in Kolkata in West Bengal also died.
By Monday evening, as many as 21 states and Union Territories had imposed lockdowns and curfews. Maharashtra, Punjab and Chandigarh, which had issued orders for lockdowns, imposed curfews. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and a Punjab government official said people had not been heeding lockdown orders. In Mumbai, local trains stopped plying on Monday.
Kerala reported 28 more infections on Monday, of which 25 were people who had returned from Dubai. This took Kerala’s count to 94, of whom three have been discharged. Maharashtra also reported a surge in cases, taking its count to 97. Maharashtra and Kerala are the two worst-affected states in India.
The Bengaluru Police marked 5,000 people for home quarantine, and added that violators of the rule will be prosecuted.
The Union Home Ministry asked states to take action against people who make racial attacks on people from Northeastern states, following a spate of such incidents. “There have been cases where people from North East including athletes and sportspersons have been harassed by linking them to Covid-19,” the ministry said. “This is racially discriminatory, inconvenient and painful to them.”
The Indian Council of Medical Research authorised physicians to use the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a potentially preventive measure for asymptomatic people closely working with patients infected with Covid-19. The drug will be only given to asymptomatic healthcare workers who are involved in the treatment of suspected or confirmed patients of Covid-19, and household contacts who are looking after people who tested positive.
Meanwhile, the Parliament session ended two weeks ahead of schedule on Monday. The Lok Sabha passed amendments to the Finance Act, moved by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, before it was adjourned.
The Delhi government told the High Court that it would provide convicts the options of getting special parole and furlough to reduce the risk of Covid-19 infections. The government told a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad that it will amend its prison rules to provide the options to convicts and a notification will be issued within a day.
As many as 3,54,677 people have so far been infected with Covid-19 globally, and 15,436 have died, according to an estimate by Johns Hopkins University. Italy has the highest number of deaths, followed by China. However, the epidemic has been controlled in China, with very few cases reported in Hubei, where the outbreak first began, over the last few days.