Coronavirus: Centre orders all institutions shut, issues fresh curbs on travel as +ve cases rise

In this handout photo provided by ITBP on Sunday, March 15, 2020, Indian nationals at the ITBP quarantine facility for testing of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), at Chhawl on Sunday, March 15, 2020. (PTI Photo)

New Delhi: In wake of the recent surge in the number of coronavirus cases in the country, the Centre has ordered all educational institutions, shopping malls, theatres and gyms to remain closed until March 31.

New travel curbs have also been issued by the government prohibiting the entry of passengers from EU countries, Turkey and the UK from March 18. They will remain until March 31 and follows the suspension of all vivas to India the government ordered on Wednesday.

There are 117 confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. However, the Minister has indicated that this number is likely to rise further. Maharashtra, which reported the maximum number of cases (37), is yet to enforce a statewide lockdown.

Kerala, which reported the first three cases of coronavirus in the country, has been able to contain the threat of the virus considerably by ensuring that strict measures in place timely.

Union health ministry officials also said seven new COVID-19 cases -- one each from Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, and four from Kerala -- were reported on Monday, taking the total number of cases in the country to 117. These cases include 10 discharged, three cured and two reported deaths.

The "contact-tracing activity" of the positive cases had led to the identification of more than 5,200 persons, who were kept under a rigorous surveillance, they added.


After a Group of Ministers (GoM) meeting, the government proposed a set of social-distancing measures to be in force till March 31, the officials told reporters.

In addition to the closure of educational institutions, the key measures proposed also included closure of gymnasiums, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres.

The government urged the local authorities to have a dialogue with the organisers of sporting events and competitions involving large gatherings, adding that they might be advised to postpone such events, he added.

It also advised the local authorities to have a dialogue with opinion makers and religious leaders to regulate mass gatherings and ensure no overcrowding.

The government also called for compulsory quarantine for a minimum of 14 days for passengers coming from or transiting through the UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait. This measure will also come into effect from 1200 GMT on March 18 at the port of first departure.

The GoM chaired by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was attended by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep S Puri, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai and Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey, among others.

The Centre has suspended the pilgrimage and registration for the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara in Pakistan, beginning Sunday midnight, in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

On Saturday, the government announced suspension of all types of passenger movement from 00:00 hours on March 15 through the Indo-Bangla, Indo-Nepal, Indo-Bhutan and Indo-Myanmar borders, barring a few specified border checkposts.

The government has asked Indian nationals to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.

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