Public support crucial, says Chief Secretary

JIPMER Director Rakesh Aggarwal, Chief Secretary Ashwani Kumar and Director General of Police Balaji Srivastava, addresses the media at Chief Secretariat in Puducherry on Monday.

JIPMER Director Rakesh Aggarwal, Chief Secretary Ashwani Kumar and Director General of Police Balaji Srivastava, addresses the media at Chief Secretariat in Puducherry on Monday.   | Photo Credit: S.S. Kumar

‘People need to diligently maintain social distancing in order to stop the virus from spreading’

With the Union Territory on lockdown till March 31, the administration has sought the cooperation of the public in checking the spread of COVID-19 by practising social distancing with the same “admirable resolve” shown during Sunday’s nation-wide ‘Janata Curfew’ to express solidarity with health professionals and others combating the pandemic.

Addressing a press conference, Chief Secretary Ashwani Kumar said though a new set of prohibitory measures would take effect, citizens’ access to essential goods and services would be unhindered.

While there was no need to panic, the public needs to diligently maintain social distancing, which is the most potent weapon in the containment effort, given the highly contagious nature of the novel coronavirus, he said.

He offered the contrast of China, which was able to come out of the pandemic by strictly following containment measures, and Italy which is overwhelmed by COVID-19 at present to reiterate the importance of not letting the situation get out of control. And, in this, the power was in the hands of the people.

“The voluntary spirit demonstrated during the ‘Janata Curfew’ should be extended to the practice of social distancing,” the Chief Secretary said.

‘Biggest challenge’

Jipmer Director Rakesh Aggarwal said COVID-19 presented one of the biggest challenges to the medical fraternity.

Social distancing will help break the chain and significantly reduce the disease burden, Dr. Aggarwal said.

Balaji Srivastava, Director General of Police, said the police force would help facilitate passage of citizens who require to access essential services and also act against hoarding and overcharging of essential items.

The Department of Revenue and Disaster Management, meanwhile, issued detailed orders defining the purview of the lockdown.

An order issued by T. Arun, Special Secretary (Revenue), stipulated that residents should stay at home and come out only for buying essential commodities/services by strictly observing social distancing norms.

Any congregation of more than five persons is prohibited, the order added.

All State borders will be sealed, excepting movement of essential commodities and services.

Plying of private vehicles will be restricted only to the extent of procuring essential goods/services. All public transport services — taxis, autorickshaws, are prohibited.

Intra-city/town buses will ply, but overcrowding of passengers to be avoided. Operation of inter-State bus and transport services, including private operators is suspended, it said.

All shops, commercial establishments, offices, workshops, godowns etc will shut down.

However, production and manufacturing units, which require continuous process such as pharmaceuticals, active drug ingredients are exempted.

Units engaged in production of essential commodities such as medicines, sanitary items, dal and rice mills, food and related units, dairy units, feed and fodder units, will operate.

Religious places shut

Religious institutions will not be open to public. However, religious ceremonies, rituals, poojas can be performed by priests/religious heads.

The Health Department will undertake monitoring of pregnant women and also make suitable arrangements for institutional delivery, if required.

All elective surgeries stand rescheduled in all private and government hospitals to enhance availability of healthcare facilities for COVID-19 patients, the order said.

Banks, ATMs, BSNL, post office and teleoperators, Central government offices related to essential services are some of the services excluded from the lockdown.

IT, ITeS, including telecom, postal and Internet services; supply chain and transport of essentials, e-commerce delivery, sale of food items, groceries, milk, medicines, bread, fruits, vegetables, eggs, fish, their transportation and warehousing; hospitals, optical outlets, diagnostic centres, pharmaceutical manufacturing/transportation, petrol pumps, LPG, oil agencies, godowns and related logistics, security services (including private), private establishments that support provisioning of essentials or effort for containment of COVID-19, intra-city/town buses, sanitary workers, animal husbandry and animal fodder are also exempt.

All Government departments will undertake measures to avoid crowding and keep premises disinfected and ensure availability of hand sanitisers/handwash facilities.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 2:32:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/public-support-crucial-says-chief-secretary/article31148254.ece

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