coronavirus, Coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, lockdown, quarantine
A passenger, wearing a mask in the wake of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, speaks to a railway official at an enquiry counter, at Bengaluru City Railway Station. Photo: PTI

COVID-19: Govt announces countrywide lockdown of schools, colleges

The Indian government on Monday (March 16) announced a collective lockdown on all educational institutions, gyms, and swimming pools, in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

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The Indian government on Monday (March 16) announced a collective lockdown of all educational institutions, gyms, and swimming pools, to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

The statement comes after a review meeting of the current scenario by a group of ministers where the government advised people to avoid non-essential travel and suggested employees of all private organisation to opt for work from home.

COVID-19 extended its footprint in India on Monday with the eastern state of Odisha reporting its first coronavirus patient and one new case each in Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Kerala, taking the total count to 114, said health ministry.

Related news: Passengers from Middle East to undergo 14-day quarantine: Govt

Mumbai’s famous Siddhivinayak temple on Monday evening was shut indefinitely following the state reporting highest number of active coronavirus cases.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal imposed a series of restrictions including a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people. He also specified that the ban applies to the anti-CAA Shaheen Bagh protest as “nothing but weddings are exempt.”

With Kerala reporting three more COVID-19 cases, the number of confirmed cases in the state has touched 24. “The total number of people under surveillance are 12,450, of whom 270 are in hospitals and the rest under home quarantine. At least 72 people were admitted to various hospitals on Monday,” said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

Related news: COVID-19: ICMR scales up random testing to check community spread

As for Tamil Nadu, which had already declared holidays for kindergarten and primary schools on Sunday, as a part of preventive measures against coronavirus, the state government on Monday announced that all educational institutions, liquor outlets, theatres, malls, resorts, amusement parks, museums, swimming pools and gymnasiums will remain closed till March 31.

Meanwhile, the Union government said the 14-day compulsory quarantine will now be expanded for passengers coming from or transiting UAE, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait. Further, the Ministry of External Affairs launched helplines for those seeking assistance in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

With the World Health Organisation categorising India among one of the countries where the deadly virus is spreading via local transmission, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) decided to intensify its testing protocols.

Related news: COVID-19: Schools, malls, gyms to remain shut till Mar 31 in Tamil Nadu

The ICMR will be conducting random testing of people who show flu-like symptoms, even if they do not have a travel history to any of the outbreak regions with each of its 51 laboratories testing 10 such samples every week, starting March 15 to determine whether community transmission is taking place in the country.

Meanwhile, all ASI-protected monuments and central museums across the country will be shut till March 31 in view of the threat of coronavirus, Union Culture Minister Prahlad Patal said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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