New Delhi, March 23, 2020:

The Government of India, in view of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, has suspended all the domestic air travel with effect from Wednesday.

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Barring the cargo flights, all the domestic flights have been suspended with effect from midnight of March 24.

“The operations of domestic schedule commercial airlines shall cease operations with effective from the mid night 23.59 IST hours on 24/3/2020. Airlines have to plan operations so as to land at their destination before 2359 hours on 24/3/2020. The restrictions shall not apply to solely cargo carrying flights,” said a press release issued on Monday.

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It may be mentioned here that as many as 20 states across the country have gone into complete lockdown to contain the spread of the pandemic coronavirus or COVID-19.

The 20 states are Assam, Chandigarh, Delhi, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Ladakh, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Tripura, Telangana, Chattisgarh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh.

This has come at a time when positive cases of coronavirus in India increased to 433 on Monday evening from 421 in the afternoon. 37 new cases have been reported on Monday. The death toll stood at 8.

In six states, and Union Territories, partial lockdowns are being observed, Lav Agrawal, the Joint Secretary of the Health Department informed, adding that three more states have also issued directives in a bid to defeat the coronavirus.

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Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary has written to the Chief Secretaries of the states and has urged them to monitor the situation 24×7, and in case there is any need to impose additional restrictions, they should monitor the situation closely. “Anyone who does not abide by these rules should be punished”, Agarwal said.

Explaining the need for a lockdown and the concept of breaking the chain, Agarwal further added, “Lockdown is a properly understood term, which will convey our message strongly and clearly. The action that will be taken will be taken as per the Epidemic Disease Act and also the Disaster Management Act under the IPC and CrPc. We want to convey that all services apaprt from essential services be suspended. In regards to the breaking of chain of transmission, when we will maintain social distancing, when we will be in lockdown, the spread of cases can be curtailed; the number of cases can be reduced, and the number of cases that are detected can be controlled and managed.”

The Health Official further stated that if only partial implementation of the lockdowns is carried out, the purpose of the exercise (to break the chain of coronavirus transmission) will be defeated. All the concerned officials such as District Magistrates, SPs of Police, Police Commissioners, and Municipal Commissioners have been urged to deal with the situation.

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The Health Ministry has also informed that as per rules and guidelines laid down by the ICMR, there are 12 laboratory chains which have been registered. 15,000 collection centres have been set up under those chains and they are rapidly increasing. Kit manufacturing has also been fasttracked at the ICMR, Pune, the Health Department informed.

The prices of sanitizers and masks has been capped, and the manufacturers have been urged to increase production to meet the needs, and they have been instructed to meet the Government assigned standards.

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