Henk Bekedam, the WHO Representative to India on #Coronavirus, has applauded India’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, saying, “The commitment from Indian Govt., the Prime Minister’s Office has been enormous, very impressive. It is one of the reasons why India is still doing quite well. I am very impressed that everyone has been mobilised.”
Here are some steps that various Indian states have taken.
1. Sealing borders
- Invoking Clause 3 of the Himachal Pradesh Epidemic Disease Regulation, 2020, the state government of Himachal Pradesh has banned the entry of domestic and foreign tourists till further orders.
- This blanket ban to tourists has also been issued by the state governments of Nagaland and Uttarakhand. With eight positive cases of COVID-19 infection, Ladakh has prohibited the entry of labourers from other states until 31 March 2020.
- Manipur has gone one step ahead by barring the entry of anyone who is not a resident of the state. Notably, there has been no reported case of infection in the region so far.
2. Public Welfare Schemes
- The Odisha government has decided that the beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) and State Food Security Scheme (SFSS) will be given rice, wheat, and kerosene for three months in advance. A window of 45 days has been given to the beneficiaries to ensure that the same is distributed smoothly.
- West Bengal has also announced that rice distributed via Public Distribution System (PDS) at Rs 2 per kg will be free for the next six months.
- At a press conference, the Kerala Chief Minister announced, “Two months of pension will be deposited together, and an amount of Rs 1,320 crore will be allotted for this purpose. Rs 1,000 will be given to the families with financial difficulties who do not avail of the social security pension.”
- Punjab government has also decided to allow beneficiaries to collect ration of up to six months in advance.
3. Law and Order
- The Public Health Department of Maharashtra stated that consuming more garlic, curry leaves or cow urine would neither treat nor prevent the coronavirus infection. Instead, they urged people to practice good hygiene, contain coughs and sneezes, and eat nutritious food.
- In an attempt to act against fear mongers and rumours on social media, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation chief Praveen Pardesh, quoted action under Section 54. According to this, “whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.”
- Section 144, which prohibits the assembly of five or more persons, has been imposed in Nashik and Nagpur in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Noida, Raipur in Chhattisgarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim, several districts of Odisha, and Haryana.
- The Delhi government, along with the state governments of Haryana and Maharashtra, have also ordered that all malls, schools, educational institutions, cinema halls remain shut until 31 March 2020. Kerala and Karnataka have also issued strict advisories urging companies to allow employees to work from home and avoid coming to the office unless absolutely mandatory.
While the central and state governments are doing their bit to curtail the spread of COVID-19, it is also upon us to follow these guidelines. Do not give in to fear and stay updated by visiting only authorised government sites.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)