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Centre tells States to ensure there is no movement of people across cities or on highways
New Delhi, March 29, 2020
India today reported eight more deaths due to coronavirus (COVID-19), taking the toll to 27, and 106 new cases of infection since last night, raising the total to 1024 so far.
The new deaths reported since yesterday were in Delhi, Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana.
Of the total 27 deaths, there were six in Maharashtra, five in Gujarat, three in Karnataka, two each in Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir and Madhya Pradesh, and one each in Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and West Bengal, figures put out by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare this evening showed.
The total number of 1024 cases includes the 25 deaths and 96 patients who have been cured and discharged from hospitals, which meant there were 901 active cases of the virus in the country as of this evening.
Of the total 1024 cases, Maharashtra accounted for the highest number with 186, followed by 182 in Kerala, 76 in Karnataka, 66 in Telangana, 65 in Uttar Pradesh, 58 in Gujarat, 55 in Rajasthan, 49 each in Delhi and Tamil Nadu, 38 in Punjab, 33 in Haryana, 31 in Jammu & Kashmir, 30 in Madhya Pradesh, 19 in Andhra Pradesh, 18 in West Bengal, 13 in Ladakh, 11 in Bihar, nine in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, eight in Chandigarh, seven each in Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, five in Goa, three each Himachal Pradesh and Odisha, and one each in Manipur, Mizoram and Puducherry.
Meanwhile, as thousands of migrant workers continued their efforts to return to their home towns and villages from their places of work, especially in the big cities, the Centre today directed the States to ensure that there is no movement of people across cities or on the highways.
After reports of large-scale exodus of migrant workers from places such as Delhi to their homes in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Praddesh, the Cabinet Secretary and the Union Home Secretary held video conferences with the Chief Secretaries and Directors-General of Police of all States.
"It was noted that, by and large, there has been effective Implementation of guidelines across all states and UTs. Essential supplies have also been maintained. Situation is being monitored round the clock and necessary measures are being taken as required," an official press release said.
"However, there has been movement of migrant workers in some parts of the country. Directions were issued that district and state borders should be effectively sealed. States were directed to ensure there is no movement of people across cities or on highways. Only movement of goods should be allowed. DMs and SPs should be made personally responsible for implementation of these directions which have been issued under the Disaster Management Act.
"It has been advised that adequate arrangements for food and shelter of poor and needy people including migrant laborers be made at the place of their work. Centre had yesterday issued orders for use of SDRF funds for this purpose. Sufficient funds are available with States in this head," the release said.
States have been also told to ensure timely payment of wages to labourers at their place of work during the period of lockdown without any cut. House Rent should not be demanded from the labourers for this period. Action should be taken against those who are asking labourers or students to vacate the premises, the release said.
"Those who have violated the lockdown and traveled during the period of lockdown will be subject to minimum 14 days of quarantine in government quarantine facilities. Detailed instructions on monitoring of such persons during quarantine have been issued to States.
"It was impressed upon all the States that three weeks of strict enforcement is essential to contain spread of corona virus. This is in the interest of everyone," the release added.
Large numbers of migrant workers and their families had gathered on the Delhi-UP border and other points in the hope of finding transport to travel to their homes.
While some state governments had started arranging buses to transport the workers, the crowds were much larger and hundreds of them simply opted to walk the hundreds of kilometres to their destinations.
Meanwhile, videos on television news channels and social media drew the nation's and the government's attention to the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding.
The workers had decided to leave for home because the 21-day lockdown imposed from March 25, and the resultant closure of thousands of small and big businesses, has left them without jobs and without money to pay rent or buy food.
Many of those trudging on the highways were accompanied by their families, including women, young children and aged parents.
The torturous journeys of such workers were underlined by the collapse and death yesterday of a 39-year-old man on the highway near Agra. He had walked some 200 km from Delhi on his way to his home in Morena in Madhya Pradesh.
In Delhi, the state government arranged to provide food to some four lakh people yesterday but this was not enough to persuade the workers to stay back, with most of them unable to pay rent for their accommodation in the absence of their daily income.
Meanwhile, the Central and State Governments, which have their hands full with the task of staving off the pandemic, now have an equally big challenge in handling the exodus of the workers and also ensuring that they do not become carriers of the virus.
In Uttar Pradesh, orders have been issued to quarantine for two weeks the nearly one lakh workers who have returned to the state in recent days.
As a result of the lockdown across the country, most cities and towns across India continue to wear a deserted look, with hardly any traffic on the roads. In many places, the police were filing complaints against violators of the restrictions and even wielding the stick and using other harsh measures against some of them.
All flights into and from India as well as all domestic flights are banned. All train services, suburban rail services, metro rail services and bus services in the entire country have come to a halt. All states have sealed their borders with neighbouring states.
Essential services have been exempted from the lockdown in all the states.
The outbreak which began in December in China, where it has claimed 3,300 lives, has spread to more than 200 countries, territories and areas around the world and claimed more than 30,000 lives worldwide so far.