Coronavirus: Don’t believe rumours, no restrictions on movement in Pune, say authorities

“We haven't ordered a ban on travel or assembly of people, so far. If need be such a decision will be taken in future..." said Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram.

Notwithstanding the rumours, the Pune District Administration has not imposed a ban on intra-city travel of persons or their gatherings in public places, although it has advised them to remain within their houses. Pimpri-Chinchwad Police on Monday issue an order under section 144 (1) Criminal Procedure Code, and Pune Police Commissioner was in the process to do so, to tour operators and hotel owners to strictly comply with earlier directives issued to share information about foreigners or those who have travelled abroad with the administration.

“We haven't ordered a ban on travel or assembly of people, so far. If need be such a decision will be taken in future. The orders that we have issued at the moment via police commissioners are to enable action against those who are violating the directives issued under Epidemic Act 1897 to curb the stpread of the novel Coronavirus,” said Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram.

Rumours about district administraton's plan to improse 'section 144' were flying thick in the city throughout the day, the broadcast media's started (erreneously) reporting in the afternoon that a travel and assembly ban has been issued in the city. At Divisional Commissioner and District Collector's daily press conference, the two officers a barrage of questions from reporters seeking explainations on how imposition of 144 (1) meant and how it was different than usual imposition in cases of law and order issues. “In law and order problems the orders are issued under section 144 (3) to prevent movement and gathering, in a group larger than a specified number. We are continuously reviewing the situation and don't think it is necessary now,” said Ram.

Pune Zilla Parishad has also launched a door-to-door survey in the entire district to identify suspected cases and take precautionary actions to avoid spread of the virus.

By Monday, 1,31,492 homes were reached by various workers as part of this survey in rural parts of the district. In this 212 persons who have visited abroad recently were identified, 120 reported cough, cold and fever and eight of these which were found to be “of concern” were referred to Naidu Hospitals for further screening.

“The eight referred persons had either been to 'high risk' countries recently or are displaying symptoms associated with Covid-19 and hence were referred for further checks,” said Ayush Prasad, Chief Executive Officer, Pune ZP.

Deepak Mhaisekar said that Pune Municipal Corporation and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporations have formed 175 teams (PMC 125 and PCMC 50) to conduct a similar door to door survey. The PMC teams have so far visited 482 homes on Pune-Nagar Road and Sinhagad Road area and recorded information about 1578 persons. “Of these two persons were referred to Naidu Hospital,” said Mhaisekar.

Under State Disaster Rsponse Fund (SDRF) all five divisions have been allocated funds to take measures to fight novel coronavirus. Under this a first installment of Rs 45 crores has been released by the state government of which Rs 10 crore will come to Pune Division.

“As per the need of each district, the money will be allocated to all five district in the Pune Division” said Mhaisekar.

Representatives of Ola, Uber meet Div Commissioner's

Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar has directed the mobile-based cab hailing portals Ola and Uber to direct the driver-partners to take precautions to avoid spread of novel coronavirus. “We have directed them to order the drivers to clean the cabs with 1 per cent sodium hypoclorite solution after they have ferried a foreigner or a person arriving at the airport from a foreign country. The Regional Transport Officer (RTO) has been directed to arrange for demonstrations on how to clean the cabs,” said Mhaisekar.

Mhaisekar also clarified that the couple who had travelled to Dubai and was found to be the first coronavirus positive case in the city, had not taken an Ola cab for their travel from Mumbai to Pune as reported earlier. The driver too had contracted Covid-19. “The driver is a private taxi driver and not an Ola driver,” said Mhaisekar.

Retail shops to be closed for the next three days

The Pune Vyapari Mahasangh- the umbrella body of retail and wholesale traders in the city- have decided to keep all shops in Pune closed for the next three days. Suryakant Pathak, head of the Mahasangh said this was done in view of the spread of the coronavirus(nCOVID 19) in the city.

"Shops dealing with essential commodities like food grains, milk, eggs and fresh vegetables will obviously be open," he said. Pune has around 1 lakh small and large shops in the retail and wholesale category which sell goods ranging from shoes to clothes. All these shops, Pathak said will be shut for the three days starting Tuesday.

On Monday, the Poona Merchant's Association has clarified that the wholesale shops in the marketyard dealing in food grains, cooking oil, sugar etc will remain functional in view of the government's call for them to remain so. The state government has asked shops and malls to remain close to check the spread of nCOVID 19