- PM said a days curfew will help people embrace self-isolation
- "Unless absolutely essential no one should leave home," he said
- Across India, 200 reported cases of coronavirus
Here are the top 10 points on Coronavirus Cases:
In addition to the cancellation of passenger and mail trains on Sunday, suburban services in major cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai will be reduced to a "bare minimum" to cater only to "essential travel". Passengers affected by cancellations will have "hassle-free refund", the Railways has said. Domestic carrier GoAir followed later in the day, saying they were responding to the Prime Minister's "clarion call". IndiGo said it would operate only 60 per cent of its domestic flights.
Vasundhara Raje has gone into self-quarantine after attending a dinner in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh. The dinner, held on Sunday, was attended by popular singer Kanika Kapoor who has confirmed that she has been infected. President Ram Nath Kovind was also at the party and has cancelled all his appointments, as were Aam Aadmi Party MP Sanjay Singh and UP Health Minister Jai Pratap Singh.
At a press briefing held on Friday evening Union Health Ministry officials reiterated the Prime Minister's call that there was no need for panic buying and hoarding of essential goods. Senior official Lav Agarwal also said people had been advised to stay away from large religious gatherings. The ministry's comment came hours after an event at a Ram festival in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya was "suspended".
India is still only testing at 10 per cent of its capacity, Dr Raman Gangakedhkar of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) said in the briefing. Medical experts have expressed worry over the low rate of testing, suggesting mass-level aggressive testing, like that by South Korea, could be key to containing the virus. On Wednesday the ICMR said private labs could be roped in to increase testing facilities. India is still in Stage 2 of the outbreak, as per the ICMR.
"Under this janata (public) curfew, no one should leave their homes or gather in their neighbourhoods. Only those related to essential services should go out," Prime Minister said in his televised address on Thursday night. The Prime Minister also said the one-day curfew would help people get used to self-isolation, in an indication that restrictions of longer periods could be announced soon.
In his address, PM Modi also urged senior citizens (those over 65) to stay at home. The Prime Minister's warning comes as medical experts say that peopled over 65 years of age (and those under 10 years) are most susceptible to infection. All four deaths in India linked to COVID-19 are of senior citizens.
Educational institutions and other public spaces in several states have been shut down. Earlier on Friday Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said shopping malls in the national capital would also be closed. Punjab has shut down most of its public transportation. Malls and cinemas have also been shut down in Kerala, Maharashtra, Odisha, Bengal and a number of other states.
In a notification issued Thursday evening, the centre asked its employees to work from home in a phased manner. As per the notification, 50 per cent of Group B and C employees will work from home, while the rest will attend office during staggered working hours. Government offices had already discontinued biometric attendance systems.
A special task force, headed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, has been set up to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Indian economy. The task force comes amid warnings by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi that the outbreak will have "devastating" economic consequences. Indian stock markets, and indeed those abroad too, have reached sharply and nervously, with millions in investor wealth being wiped out.
The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country has extended to religious centres as well. On Friday morning a member of the organising committee of the "Ram Kot Parikrama", which marks the start of Ram Navami festivities in Uttar Pradesh's Aydohya next week, told NDTV the event had been suspended. In Andhra Pradesh the Tirupati board has shut down the iconic temple over virus fears. The famous Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai has already been shut down. Sporting events have been affected too, with the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament postponed and the India-South Africa series called off.
With input from PTI