New Delhi: As the total number of confirmed positive cases in the country climb to 173, India has officially entered a lockdown, with the government shutting travel routes and encouraging people to stay at home. Earlier today, the government decided to ban all international flights for a week from March 22 to contain the pandemic from spreading further. Also Read - Viral Video: Deer Runs Across Empty Street in Dehradun Amid Coronavirus Lockdown
However, the health ministry also maintained that all the cases so far have had a history of foreign travel and there are no cases of community transmission yet. Also Read - Have to Resist Urge to go Out: Chesteshwar Pujara on Lockdown Amid COVID-19
Here are the top developments of the day: Also Read - Viral: Police Dresses up as Coronavirus to Create Awareness in Chennai | Watch
1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation this evening and called for a nationwide ‘Janata Curfew’ on Sunday, March 22. He appealed to the citizens to voluntarily stay indoors, implement ‘social distancing’ in their everyday lives and work from home as much as possible while underscoring the dangers of coronavirus.
2. PM Modi also announced that a ‘COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force’ task force will be set up to decide on relief package for sectors which are affected by the contagious disease. The task force will be headed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and will also look at measures to limit economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. The death toll due to coronavirus rose to four after a man from Punjab died this afternoon. Previously three people had died, one each from Delhi, Maharashtra, and Karnataka.
4. The central government directed all its employees to work from home in staggered manner, that is, while half of them will come to office at a scheduled time, the remaining employees will log in from their homes. According to the notification, employees have been divided into three groups – Group A, B, and C – who will be working at staggered hours under three time slots – 9 AM to 5.30 PM, 9.30 AM to 6 PM and 10 AM to 6.30 PM.
5. Following the Centre’s order, the DGCA directed that all international flights have been suspended from March 22 for a week. The governement notification also directed the Railways and civil aviation authorities to suspend all “concessional travel, except for students, patients and disabled persons” to contain the coronavirus transmission.
6. In a press briefing, the Ministry of External Affairs requested all Indians stranded abroad to stay where they are. “It is not advisable for people to move from one place to another. These restrictions are temporary… Embassies will help them out,” MEA spokesperson Dammu Ravi said.
7. Himachal Pradesh and Meghalaya have shut down the inflow of all tourists – domestic and foreign to combat the spread of coronavirus.
8. Pakistan decided to close down its Wagah border with India for two weeks ‘with immediate effect’ as the number of coronavirus cases in the neighbouring country rose to 341.