COVID-19 cases in India surge to 36.21 lakh, toll climbs to 78,512; several states announce Unlock 4.0 rules

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Taking a cue from the Centre, several states on Monday announced fresh guidelines under Unlock 4-0, even as the country’s coronavirus caseload surged to 36,21,245 with 78,512 new cases and 971 deaths reported in 24 hours.

While Maharashtra eased curbs on inter-district travel and allowed hotels to function at full capacity, Karnataka permitted political rallies and resumption of Metro services.  Nagaland too announced a slew of relaxations such as lifting restrictions on inter-state movements and permitting shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, gymnasium and salons to open their doors.

The Himachal Pradesh government decided to open religious places but said that inter-state movement of public transport buses will remain prohibited.

In West Bengal, chief secretary Rajiva Sinha said that complete shutdown will be imposed on 7,11 and 12 September while Metro services will be allowed to resume from 8 September. The Punjab government said that existing restrictions, including weekend lockdown and night curfews, will be in place in municipal towns till September end.

India’s GDP contracts by record 23.9% in April-June quarter

The move to allow certain economic activities and travel came on a day when the National Statistical Organisation (NSO) said that India’s economy had shrunk by a record 23.9 percent in the April to June quarter. India’s economy had grown by 5.2 percent in the same quarter of the last fiscal, it said.

Except agriculture, all other sectors, including manufacturing, construction and services, suffered steep declines, the data showed.

“With a view to contain spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions were imposed on the economic activities not deemed essential, as also on the movement of people from 25 March, 2020. Though the restrictions have been gradually lifted, there has been an impact on the economic activities as well as on the data collection mechanisms,” said an NSO statement.

The Central government has imposed a countrywide lockdown on 25 March to stop the infection from spreading and began easing the lockdown for certain economic activities from 20 April onwards.

In its most recent Unlock-4 guidelines issued on Saturday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) allowed more activities and services to resume outside containment zones but extended the lockdown in such areas till 30 September. Schools, colleges will remain shut but Metro rail services will restart in a phased manner from 7 September.

The Centre prohibited states and Union Territories from imposing localised lockdowns outside containment zones without prior consultation with it.

West Bengal to shut down on three days in September

West Bengal, which had been imposing bi-weekly lockdown, on Monday confirmed that a total lockdown will be imposed in the state on 7,11 and 12 September. An order issued by chief secretary Rajiva Sinha said that all government and private offices, commercial establishments will remain closed on the three days, and there will be no public and private transport services.

In line with the Centre’s guidelines, the order stated that lockdown had been extended in containment zones till 30 September but Metro trains can start plying from 8 September in a graded manner.  However, schools, colleges, cinema halls, swimming pools, entertainment parks and theatres will remain closed till the end of September, while gatherings and congregations would also be prohibited till that time, it said.

Metros, political meets allowed in Karnataka

Karnataka, which reported 6,495 new cases of COVID-19 and 113 fatalities on Monday, allowed Metro services to resume from 7 September and permitted social, academic, sports, entertainment, cultural, religious and political functions and other congregations with a ceiling of 100 persons from 21 September, provided precautionary measures are followed.

Educational institutions will continue to remain closed for students and regular class activity upto 20 September  but online learning will continue, said a state government order.

Maharashtra lifts curbs on inter-district travel

The Maharashtra government lifted restriction on inter-district movement of persons and goods, and raised attendance in its offices while extending the general COVID-19-enforced lockdown in the state till 30 September.

No separate permission/approval/e-permit will be required for the vehicles and persons travelling within the state, the government said in its ‘Mission Begin Again’ order. The government also allowed passenger movement by private bus/mini bus and other operators.

It said that hotels and lodges will be allowed to operate at 100 percent capacity from 2 September and group A and B government offices can function with full staffing. Private offices can operate with up to 30 percent of their strength as per requirement.

The government said that outdoor physical activities with no restrictions will be allowed, but made no mention of reopening of gyms and temples.

The total cases in Maharashtra rose to 7,92,541 on Monday with the addition of 11,852 new cases, while 184 patients succumbed to the infection, 32 of them in Mumbai, the health department said

Himachal to open religious places, weekend lockdown to continue in Punjab towns

The Himachal Pradesh government decided to open religious places under Unlock 4  but said that inter-state movement of public transport buses will remain prohibited. Chief Secretary Anil Khachi directed that people entering the state will have to register online and those arriving from high-case load states will be quarantined.  The government has not mentioned the exact date for opening religious places.

The Punjab government announced that all existing restrictions, including weekend lockdown, will be in place in all 167 municipal towns of the state till the end of September. Night curfew will also continue in the cities from 7 pm to 5 am during the same period, it added. However, students traveling for admissions, exams and entrance tests are exempted from the restrictions.

The decision has been taken in due consultation with the Centre, as required by the ‘Unlock 4.0’ guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, an official spokesperson told news agency PTI.

Religious places have been allowed to stay open on all days up to 6.30 pm, as have been restaurants (including those in malls) and liquor vends. Shops and malls will be allowed to remain open till 6.30 pm from Monday to Friday but will be closed in all cities on Saturdays and Sundays but those dealing in essentials will be open even on the weekend till 6.30 pm, said the spokesperson. The restrictions on day and time do not apply to hotels.

Nagaland lifts curbs on inter-state movement

Nagaland also announced a slew of relaxations, including the lifting of restrictions on inter-state movement. “We cannot continue imposing the lockdown as it has affected the economy of the state… The government also continues providing facilities amid the poor economic condition,” said minister Neiba Kronu.

Nagaland will give a special focus on the agricultural activities for the overall improvement of the economy, he added. Shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, gymnasium and salons will be allowed to open by following all safety protocols, Kronu said. Sports complexes and stadiums will also be allowed to open but without spectators, he said. Markets would also be permitted but with certain conditions, the minister for planning and coordination said

Churches and other religious places will continue to function with 30 percent congregation till 21 September, and further relaxations on the number of attendees will be made after that.

India reports 78,512 fresh cases

The novel coronavirus tally in India crossed 36 lakh on Monday with 78,512 new cases, while the number of recoveries surged to 27,74,801, pushing the recovery rate to 76.62 percent, the health ministry said in its morning update. The toll climbed to 64,469 with 971 more people succumbing to the infection in a span of 24 hours, the data showed.

There are 7,81,975 active cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country, while 27,74,801 people have recovered.  The recovery rate has increased to 76.62 percent, while the fatality rate has dipped to 1.78 percent, said the ministry.

About 43% cases reported from three states, says Centre

Separately, the health ministry said that around 43 percent of the total COVID-19 cases in India have been recorded from just three states, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. These three states also account for about 50 percent of the deaths added in the last 24 hours, it further stated.

The ministry also said that seven states have contributed 70 percent of these new cases in the last 24 hours. The ministry decided to deploy Central teams to Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, which are seeing a sudden surge in fresh infections.

“The teams will support the states’ efforts towards strengthening containment, surveillance, testing and efficient clinical management of the positive cases,” it said.

Odisha has reported 492 deaths and 1,03,536 cases so far, with at least 2,602 people, including a BJD MLA, testing positive on Monday. The state also saw its second minister — Agriculture, Farmer Empowerment and Higher Education Minister Arun Kumar Sahoo— testing positive on Monday.

Uttar Pradesh has reported 3,486 deaths and 2,30,414 infections so far while Jharkhand recorded 38, 435 cases and 410 fatalities till Sunday.

With inputs from PTI

 



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