Wednesday, January 20, 2021

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India’s 1.3 billion people will go under “total lockdown” for 21 days to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Indian PM Narendra Modi said in a televised address.

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Meanwhile, in Rajasthan, where 31 positive cases of coronavirus have been reported, Bhilwara city has become a cause of serious concern for the Indian government. Bhilwara is approximately  250 km from the capital Jaipur and has become a hotbed for the infection – almost 50% of the cases of Rajasthan have been reported from the city.

Earlier on Saturday as per the BBC, three doctors and three nurses at a private hospital tested positive for coronavirus. The Rajasthan government has put the city under lockdown along with nearby areas of Jhunjhunu, Sikar and Jaipur.

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Bhilwara MLA Vitthal Shankar Avasthi told BBC that over 600 patients were admitted to the hospital where the positive cases were found and the doctors had examined more than 5,500 people.

“We have prepared a list of people who had been examined at the hospital,” Avasthi said. “Twenty-six people presumed of having caught the infection have been put under quarantine and the hospital has been sealed.”

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The Rajasthan Government imposed a “civil curfew”, forbidding residents from coming out of their homes and outlawing public meetings. They closed schools, colleges, offices, and prevented people from leaving or entering the district. The private hospital was sealed and its 88 patients moved to other healthcare facilities in the area.

So Bhilwara, apprehending a dangerous pandemic, did everything that the rest of the country did a few days later. So could this city of 400,000 people and a major textile hub, turn out to be India’s first coronavirus “hotspot”?

The government has said that it will screen the city’s entire population of 4.5 lakh. “We have 300 medical teams that are going door-to-door to screen people,” Rohit Kumar Singh, Additional Chief Secretary of Rajasthan Health Department, told BBC. “We will screen all the residents of Bhilwara and those in the neighbouring towns and villages.”

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Monday directed officials to develop 1 lakh isolation beds, the Hindustan Times reported. “There is nothing bigger than saving lives and for this, the government will ensure all possible measures by taking all into confidence,” he says.

Meanwhile, Indian PM Narendra Modi said the lockdown would start at midnight and would last for a minimum of 21 days, and would apply to all of India’s 36 states and territories.

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“You have seen the worldwide situations arising from the coronavirus pandemic in the news. You have also seen how the most powerful nations have become helpless in the face of this pandemic,” Modi said in a live televised address to the nation on Tuesday evening ahead of the deadline.

PM Modi said that the measures are vital to protect the population from the pandemic. “What the experts are saying is that social distancing is the only option to combat coronavirus. That is to remain apart from each other and stay confined to within your homes. There is no other way to remain safe from coronavirus. If we have to stop the spread, we have to break the cycle of infection,” he said.

“From 12 midnight today, the entire country will go under a complete lockdown to save India and for every Indian, there will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes. Therefore, I request you to remain wherever you are in this country,” Modi added.

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Only essential services will be operational. These include water, electricity, health services, fire services, groceries and municipal services.

All shops, commercial establishments, factories, workshops, offices, markets and places of worship will be closed and interstate buses and metros will be suspended. Construction activity will also be on a halt during this period.  PM Modi said if the pandemic if not handled properly could set the country back by 21 years.

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