NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Thirty states and Union territories declared a lockdown by late evening on Monday as the country recorded its ninth death linked to the highly contagious coronavirus.
Overall, 471 people have tested positive for the virus in the country — 75 of them in the last 24 hours.
Two persons have died, one in Bengal and the other in Himachal Pradesh. As reports of infection came in from all the key states, the Centre tightened its clampdown with a ban on domestic flights and warned of legal action against rule-breakers.
Punjab, which had thousands of expats heading for home, declared curfew. So did Maharashtra, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases.
In Kolkata, sources said the 57-year-old who died at a private hospital, did not have any travel history, raising concern about the chain of transmission of the virus.
Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray Monday said curfew will be imposed in the entire state from midnight today as the fight against coronavirus has reached a “turning point”.
The next few days would be crucial, he said, adding that crowds will not be tolerated in public places and action would be taken against those violating the government’s guidelines.
He, however, assured that all essential services will remain open during the time of curfew.
“We will be enforcing curfew in the entire state from Monday midnight. We have come to a turning point in our battle against the COVID-19 outbreak. The next few days would be extremely important. We are also sealing borders of all districts to check the spread of coronavirus,” he said.
“We will not tolerate crowd in public places at any cost. Except in case of an emergency, no one will be allowed to roam on streets. If these guidelines are violated, people will face legal action,” Mr Thackeray said.
All the essential services, medical stores, veterinary doctors and their shops will continue to operate during the curfew, he said.
“The way we clapped yesterday, it was, in fact, a siren of warning. We need to observe complete restraint at this moment, or we will regret forever. This is the turning point in our fight against coronavirus,” Mr Thackeray said.
He also said home quarantine is mandatory as it is the advisory from health experts and government.
“We need to win the battle against coronavirus. The state government is also training anganwadi (state-run women and child care centres) and ASHA (accredited social health activist) workers and home guards as the state would need extra manpower in the fight against COVID-19, he said.
The chief minister said he has also written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to suspend domestic flight services.
We will allow only essential services. If we cannot check the coronavirus outbreak at this moment, we may face the fate of some European countries, he said.
Italy is the hardest-hit European country with 5,476 deaths so far, while the coronavirus has claimed 2,182 lives in Spain.
“The state borders are almost sealed. Supply of food, grains, cereals, milk and medicines will continue from one district to another. No other movement will be allowed,” Mr Thackeray said.
He said shops pertaining to agriculture services, like sale and distribution of fertilisers and pesticides, were also open.
“Their movement will also be allowed in this time. This situation will not last long but we need the support of people,” Mr Thackeray said.
He said all types of religious centres will remain closed as well.
“They are not exempted during the curfew time. Priests can go to temples, mosques and churches and perform the rituals, but no mass gathering will be allowed,” the chief minister said.