COVID-19 surge: Bihar imposes night curfew from 9 pm to 5 am

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(Eds: adding detail) Patna, Apr 18 (PTI) Considering rapid spread of infection during killer second wave, the Bihar government on Sunday decided to impose night curfew from 9 pm to 5 am as part of new measures to check spread of the disease.

Declaring newer measures taken to halt the surge of coronavirus cases, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said a decision has been taken to extend closure of schools/colleges/coaching centres till May 15 from April 30.

Religious places of all faiths will remain shut till May 15 in view of the sudden spike in coronavirus cases in Bihar, the chief minister told reporters.

Earlier, they were closed till April 30.

The government offices with one-third strength will function only till 5 pm instead of 6 pm now while shops/mandis/business establishments will be closed at 6 pm, an hour before than what was decided last week, he said.

Attendance at funerals has been reduced to 25 from 50 earlier and likewise gathering in marriage/shradha curtailed to 100 from 200 earlier till mid-May.

Kumar announced the new curbs to break the chain of coronavirus in Bihar after an all-party meeting Saturday followed by an interaction with the district officials during the day.

The chief minister briefed media persons about the new action plan on COVID, after a meeting of the crisis management group which took stock of the COVID situation and also discussed points of view expressed at the all-party meeting called by Governor Phagu Chauhan the previous day.

He said cinema hall, gym and park among others will remain shut till May 15.

Similarly, restaurants,dhabas and other eateries have been denied permission of dine-in facility for customers.

However, they are allowed home delivery of food items till 9 pm.

District administrations have been armed with the power to impose prohibitory order under section 144 of CrPC to prevent unnecessary gathering of people at public places.

Flanked by deputy chief ministers- Tarkishore Prasad and Renu Devi- and Health minister Mangal Pandey, Kumar said the restrictions are not applicable on essential services like fire services, banks, ambulances and police etc.

E-commerce establishments have also been kept away from the curbs and so is construction work and industries.

The chief minister said that the stringent measures were necessitated due to faster multiplication of COVID cases in Bihar which mounted to 8690 Sunday.

'We will keep a close watch over the situation and if needed more steps will be taken accordingly in future to contain the surge of the virus,' he said.

Kumar said the government is closely monitoring the situation and makings efforts to maintain adequate supply of medicines and beds for infected people.

In view of complaint of delay in giving report of RT-PCR tests some times by a week time, order has been issued to deliver the test report at the earliest so that treatment of the infected can start immediately, he said.

As an incentive to the medicos, the chief minister announced one month extra salary for them.

Quarantine centres will be set up at sub-division level for the benefit of citizens.

Assuring migrant workers returning home in the wake of resurgence of coronavirus in different states they are working , Kumar appealed to them to make their return trip as early as possible so that the treatment and proper care of those found infected could start soon.

Besides, intensifying awareness campaign, masks will be distributed among people in villages as well as in the towns by the Panchayati Raj department and Urban Affairs department.

He also said now a decision has been taken to earmark containment zone in localities where more COVID cases are found instead of going for micro containment zone at present.

Proper medicare and ambulance facilities would be ensured to patients recuperating in home isolation, he said.

The chief minister said the state is in regular touch with the centre and doing everything to ensure availability of medicines and oxygen for critically ill patients.

In response to a question whether panchayat polls will be held in the state in view of the raging coronavirus situation, the chief minister said this aspect was not discussed at the crisis management committee meeting.

He, however, said the election office will take appropriate steps in this regard.

Election process for panchayats has to be completed by June 15 when the term of the three-tier local bodies end. PTI ANW SNS SNS