COVID-19: Haryana announces one-week statewide lockdown from May 3

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Chandigarh, May 2 (PTI) Amid a sharp surge in coronavirus cases, the Haryana government on Sunday announced imposition of a week-long lockdown in the entire state beginning May 3.

Earlier, a weekend curfew was enforced in nine districts -- Gurugram, Faridabad, Panchkula, Sonipat, Rohtak, Karnal, Hisar, Sirsa and Fatehabad -- from 10 pm on Friday till 5 am on Monday.

'From May 3, there will be a 7-day long lockdown in the entire state,' Haryana's Home and Health Minister Anil Vij said in a tweet.

Chief Minister M L Khattar held meetings with the district administration officials in Sirsa, Kurukshetra, Sonipat and Bhiwani on steps to check spread of the infection. Replying to a question of reporters, Khattar said there is no need for people to panic.

He said everyone must follow COVID-related guidelines.

The chief minister appealed to all to refrain from creating an atmosphere of fear and urged them to instead play a positive role in this fight against the pandemic.

He said, 'We should move forward with the thought 'Jaan Hai toh Jahan Hai' and continue this fight against COVID-19'.

'We have to fight this collectively,' Khattar said in Sirsa.

During the lockdown period, the government has urged the residents to stay indoors, officials said. However, several categories which were granted exemption earlier too during weekend restrictions in nine districts, including people who are tasked with law and order, emergencies and municipal service duties and government machinery tasked with COVID-19 related duties, continue to get exemptions during the lockdown.

To curb the virus spread, the state government had recently put several other restrictions in place including imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC and daily night curfew.

Former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, in a statement on Sunday, said the government should use the lockdown period to improve the condition of medical infrastructure, which he alleged has completely collapsed 'as the government has failed to provide beds, oxygen and medicines to COVID patients'.

'People are forced to wander on the streets with empty oxygen cylinders, which is a living proof of the utter state of disarray the government has pushed the state into,' Hooda alleged.

At the same time, the Congress leader said, 'We are ready to cooperate with the government in every way to counter the crisis as we believe this is the time to rise above politics and unite and fight the pandemic'.

Senior INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala had recently described Haryana's coronavirus situation as 'worse than that of Delhi'.

Replying to a question, Khattar told reporters there is no shortage of oxygen in Haryana for COVID-19 patients and the current daily allocation for the state has been fixed at 257 metric tonne by the Centre.

Earlier, Khattar also presided over a COVID review meeting of doctors and officials at BPS Medical College, Gohana in the Sonipat district.

He said five oxygen plants will be started in the state soon and the equipment and machinery required for setting up these plants have been received, an official statement said.

He said the rate list of charges by the ambulances should be displayed in every hospital so that people do not face any problem while paying.

Besides, a rate list of oxygen beds, ventilator beds, normal beds in every hospital should also be displayed on the notice boards in all the hospitals so that no patient visiting any hospital is exploited.

The chief minister, who earlier also presided over a meeting with the officials regarding COVID-19 arrangements in Kurukshetra, said it would be ensured that there is no oxygen shortage in Haryana.

'Strict action will be taken against those who are involved in the black marketing of medicines, cylinders and other food products just to earn money even in these difficult times,' he said.

He directed the officers concerned to hold talks with the Indian Medical Association regarding fixing of the prices of health services like beds, ventilators, oxygen etc. at private hospitals so that patients can get benefits at fixed rates.

'Strict action should be taken against those private hospitals that are found charging the patients above the fixed rate for the said health facilities just to earn profits,' he told the officials.

He said directions have also been given that the teams constituted at the district level should regularly visit the hospitals and conduct the audit of oxygen, beds and other health services and further ensure to send a report regarding the same to the government.

Haryana on Sunday recorded its biggest single-day jump with 145 deaths taking the toll to 4,486 while 13,322 fresh infections pushed the infection count to 5,14,888.

According to the health department's daily bulletin, Gurugram district registered 3,609 new cases.

Sixteen new fatalities each were reported from Karnal and Hisar; 14 each from Rohtak and Fatehabad; 11 from Bhiwani; 10 from Ambala and nine each from Gurugram and Panipat districts and seven each from Faridabad and Jind districts.

Other districts that reported a big spike in cases include Faridabad (1,755), Hisar (879), Sonipat (934), Karnal (773), Panipat (794), Sirsa (638), Rohtak (525) and Mahendragarh (583).

The number of active cases in the state stands at 1,05,270.

So far, 4,05,132 people have recovered and the state has a recovery rate of 78.68 per cent, the bulletin said. PTI SUN VSD CK