- The work from home orders will be in effect till April 4
- India has reported 173 coronavirus cases so far
- Worldwide over 8,000 people have died due to novel coronavirus
The centre has ordered its employees to work from home in a staggered manner - 50 per cent of Group B and C employees will attend office while the rest will log in from their homes - as part of its measures to combat the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country.
As per a notification issued by the government today, working hours of those employees scheduled to attend office on each day will also be staggered.
"All Heads of Departments (HoDs) are advised to draft a weekly roster of duty for Group B and C staff and ask them to attend office on alternate weeks. While deciding the roster for the first week, HoDs are advised to include officials who are residing in close proximity to their office or use their own transport to travel to the offices," the notification said.
The staggered hours consist of three time slots: 9 am to 5.30 pm, 9.30 am to 6 pm and 10 am to 6.30 pm.
Officials working from home must be available on telephone and electronic means of communication at all times, the government has said, adding they must also be ready to attend office in case of an emergency.
The work from home orders will be in effect till April 4.
However, this order does not apply to offices and employees engaged in essential/emergency services and those directly involved in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
The work from home orders come two days after the Personnel Ministry asked all central government departments to take precautionary measures. All departments have been asked to discourage visitors and install thermal screeners as well as place hand sanitisers at convenient locations.
"Those found having flu-like symptoms may be advised to take proper treatment/quarantine," the ministry said, adding that all gyms and creches located in government buildings must be closed.
Employees at high risk – older people, people with underlying medical conditions and pregnant workers were asked to take extra precaution.
The measures come amid concern over the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, in the country.
As part of its response, the centre, which has been criticised by opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi and P Chidambaram for being slow to react to the crisis, has shut down international borders and suspended incoming visas from affected countries.
State governments have reacted by shutting down public spaces, such as malls, cinemas, gyms and swimming pools, have urged citizens to refrain from large gatherings and closed schools and colleges.
The virus, which originated in China's Wuhan in December last year, has infected nearly 170 people in India and at least three deaths have been linked to it. Worldwide over 8,000 have died and more than two lakh have been infected.