Coronavirus cases: Govt decides to lockdown 75 districts across country

New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) The Centre and state governments have decided to completely lock down 75 districts across the country where coronavirus cases have been reported, officials said on Sunday.

It has also been decided to suspend the interstate bus services till March 31, the officials said.

The decisions have been taken at a high-level meeting attended by chief secretaries of all states and the cabinet secretary and the principal secretary to the prime minister.

In view of the need to contain the spread of the deadly COVID-19, it was agreed that there was an urgent need to extend the restrictions on the movement of non-essential passenger transport, including interstate transport buses till March 31, a Union Home Ministry official said.

State governments will issue orders allowing only essential services to operate in about 75 districts with confirmed COVID-19 cases or casualties, the official said.

The districts where lockdown was announced are from states that include Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

It was noted that several state governments have already issued orders in this regard. All the chief secretaries informed that there was overwhelming and spontaneous response to the call for 'Janata curfew' given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The state governments may expand the list depending on their assessment of the situation.

In the meeting, it was decided to suspend all train services till March 31, including sub-urban rail services. However, goods trains are exempted. All metro rail services were also suspended till March 31.

The total number of novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 341 on Sunday after fresh cases were reported from various parts of the country, the Union Health Ministry said.

Millions of people across the country stayed indoors, streets wore a deserted look and bare number of vehicles were on the road on Sunday in an unprecedented shutdown on Modi's appeal for a 'Janata curfew' to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed over 13,000 lives worldwide. PTI ACB HMB