The long shadow of COVID-19 has surfaced again to tackle the dreaded virus. A partial lockdown would be effected in entire district till March 7, wherein all educational institutions, weekly markets would be shutdown with immediate effect. Along side the administration has imposed ban on weddings, political and religious events and the cultural programmes from February 25 onwards to avoid large gathering to stem the transmission of virus.
A meeting chaired by Guardian Minister Dr Nitin Raut on Monday morning reviewed the situation on COVID-19 front wherein the current case load, rate of infection, experts’ views were taken into consideration before finalising the curbs in light of pandemic. The meeting held at Divisional Commissionerate was attended among others by Commissioner of Police Amitesh Kumar, Municipal Commissioner Radhakrishnan B, District Collector Ravindra Thakare, Deans of GMCH and IGGMCH, Civil Surgeon, and others.
After discussing the situation at hand, the first decision that was taken was to revive Covid Care Centres (CCC) as daily the case load of active patients is increasing rapidly. Taking cue from first wave, administration thought it fit to be in readiness so that if there is sudden surge in cases, the CCC can prove useful. Also curbs were thought as best possible measures in current scenario before positive cases surge further and make task difficult for administration and health machinery in particular. Educational Institutes Closed: All educational institutions, schools and colleges were asked to discontinue physical classes and switch over to on-line mode of teaching as steps are being taken to minimise gatherings. While Classes from Standard IX to XII had restarted from December onwards, the middle schools had resumed just two weeks back. Colleges too had resumed the classes as course for the academic year was needed to be wrapped-up.
Administration is of view that the lesser the number people outside the lesser would be the case load. Also, coaching centres that had barely reopened were also directed to close down as ground situation is worrisome. Training centres have also been asked to switch over to on-line mode of holding classes. Shops Timing Regulated: The timings of commercial establishment in city and rural parts too has been regulated to deter citizens from crowding in markets that is giving jitters to administration. All restaurants, bars, pubs would have to wound-up their businesses by 9 pm. Also the shops and general stores and other non-essential category business also directed to adhere to new timings. Weekend Shutdown: Restaurants and dining halls also have been directed to function with 50 per cent occupancy and abide by all COVID-19 rules.
Most importantly, a sort of weekend curfew would be in place wherein all commercial establishments would remain closed as people tend to move out for outing and crowding occurs. So, barring shops in essential category including fuel pumps, milk centres, vegetable shops, newspapers, medical services all other activities would remain totally closed on Saturday and Sunday. Municipal Commissioner late in night issued a revised notification wherein all threatres plus cinema halls would remain closed on Saturday and Sunday till further orders. This decision is also going to dampen the weekend festive mood as footfalls from cinema goers were just picking-up. Earlier, Dr Raut speaking at the meeting laid stress on contact tracing while increasing the testing capacity. Expressing worry about crowding in rural and urban parts, mostly at community function, he asked senior officials to monitor the situation and take concrete action. Areas that have emerged as hotspot should be monitored and officials should not let situation slip out of control.
Also admonition should also promote ‘Mi Jababdar’ as outlined by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in his Saturday’s address to people of Maharashtra. People should be made aware about ‘Maze Arogya Mazi Jababdari’ so that self measures are taken as per COVID-19 protocols to keep oneself healthy and ensure protection of society at large. Also super spreaders should be identified quickly and SARI patients be monitored as they are more susceptible to contract COVID-19 virus. Stressing on the importance of role of medical fraternity, Dr Raut said physicians in private as well as Government should take steps to properly monitor cases of flu and advice patients accordingly. The main criteria for curbing COVID-19 are to avoid crowding, maintaining social distance and using masks and sanitizers strictly. Divisional Commissioner Dr Sanjeev Kumar directed officials to ensure that name, address and telephone number of people coming for testing is properly jotted as this is of utmost importance. Also information about people those who had in contact with one coming positive should also be with the testing centre to enable contact tracing at the earliest. Outdoor restaurants are going to feel the pinch of weekend ban as most of their business is done on these two days. For them the restrictions would be quite harsh though they have been strictly following COVID-19 norms and operating with 50% occupancy.
New hotspots of COVID-19 identified Municipal Commissioner Radhakrishnan B listed the new hotspots in city including Jaripatka, Jafar Nagar, Friends Colony, New Bidipeth, Swalambi Nagar, Khamla Sindhi Colony, Dighori, Wathoda, Laxmi Nagar, Ayodhya Nagar as case load in these residential colonies has increased drastically. At some places, entire building is having positive patients and in some homes five persons are down with COVID-19 and in such cases civic administration is sealing these places to avoid spread through contact with outsiders. Also in case people advised home quarantine are found roaming outside, then offences have been registered. Commissioner of Police Amitesh Kumar informed the meeting that police force has also taken steps to ensure no large gatherings takes place on streets. Joint action is initiated against marriage halls, hotels and restaurants where rules are violated.