With the second death and more than 80 positive cases of COVID-19 , India has launched a containment lockdown, according to experts, with several States closing schools, colleges and theatres and cancelling public events.
The country, which is in the second stage of transmission, recorded the second fatality in the national capital. Health officials confirmed that the 68-year old woman, a resident of Delhi, who came in contact with her COVID-19 positive son, died at RML Hospital on March 13 night.
“The lockdown that India is currently under is absolutely necessary. India has a 30-day window to halt the beginning of community transmission of COVID-19 cases. The time to act is now. While there is no cause for panic and aggressive measures can also reverse community transmission, if it happens. It’s time that we all worked together to make use of the opportunity that we have right now,” said Balram Bhargava, Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
On March 13, fresh cases were reported from Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala. Three persons in Thiruvananthapuram district tested positive, taking the total number in the second wave of infection to 19 in Kerala . Delhi-NCR reported yet another positive case, of a 46-year-old man. He is from Greater Noida, with travel history to Italy and Switzerland. More than 700 people working in his leather company have been put under surveillance, Gautam Buddh Nagar Chief Medical Officer Anurag Bhargava told reporters. “When the man, who lives in Delhi, returned home, he felt weakness and consulted doctors... He tested positive. However, he kept visiting the company since returning from abroad, hence all 707 employees have been put under surveillance,” he said.
“His family members and children are already under surveillance,” he said.
Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi have suspended classes, and other universities, like Jindal University in Sonepat in Haryana, announced they would be open but there would be no classes till March 29.
The Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked international airlines to consider waiving ticket cancellation and reschedule charges, or providing any other incentives.
The Union Health Ministry has said of the 81 positive cases, three from Kerala were treated and discharged and seven more from Safdarjung have recovered. Of these confirmed cases, 64 cases are of Indian nationals, 16 Italian nationals and one Canadian. Contact tracing of these cases is being pursued. So far, this has led to the identification of more than 4,000 contacts who have been put under surveillance.
A man who returned from Italy on March 11 and who was at a quarantine facility of the Army in Manesar has tested positive. The individual was working in one of the restaurants in Italy for the past 14 years. He has been shifted to an isolation facility at Safdarjung Hospital.
The Ministry said India evacuated 1,031 people, including from the Maldives, the U.S., Madagascar and China.
The Centre has also decided to allow international traffic only through 19 of the 37 border checkpoints and continue the suspension of the India-Bangladesh passenger trains and buses till April 15, or earlier.
After the country’s first coronavirus death reported from Kalaburagi , the Karnataka government announced lockdown of malls, cinema theatres, pubs and night clubs for a week. Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa ordered cancellation of all exhibitions, summer camps, conferences, marriage events and birthday parties. “We will close all universities for a week in the entire State,” he told reporters.
A software engineer, who works in Bengaluru, who had returned from Greece, was diagnosed with COVID-19 .
In Kalaburgi town , 46 people who were in contact with the 76-year-old man who died on Tuesday night were quarantined, district officials said, adding that 31 were categorised as “high risk” and 13 “low risk”. Four family members of the man have displayed symptoms of flu, and their swab samples have been sent for testing.
In Odisha , the Naveen Patnaik government said educational institutions would be closed till March 31, but examinations would go ahead. He said the government had earmarked ₹200 crore to combat the threat and declared COVID-19 a “disaster”. Non-essential gatherings such as seminars, workshops and conferences would be cancelled, Mr. Patnaik said. Social gatherings and assemblies, such as religious functions, marriage receptions and parties, would be regulated. Cinema halls, swimming pools and gyms would also be closed.
A quarantine centre run by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police in New Delhi discharged 112 people, comprising 76 Indians and 36 foreigners, on March 13 after they tested negative , a senior official said. They were evacuated last month from Wuhan in China and admitted on February 27 to the centre at Chhawla in south-west Delhi, one of the biggest quarantine centres in the country set up to deal with the pandemic.
“Two tests were conducted on these inmates, the first one on the day they were brought in and the second on the fourteenth day. All the 112 samples have been found negative, and hence it was decided to allow them to leave for their homes and other destinations,” ITBP spokesperson Vivek Kumar Pandey said.
The Central Zoo Authority has directed all zoos to screen visitors and undertake sanitation measures at entry and exit gates.