Telangana under lockdown till Mach 31 as COVID-19 cases mount

to 27 (Eds: Combines related stories) Hyderabad, Mar 22 (PTI) Telangana was placed under complete lockdown till March 31 and people asked to remain in homes as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus as the total number of COVID-19 patients in the state rose to 27 with six fresh cases on Sunday.

The day witnessed total shutdown with people participating voluntarily in the 'Janta curfew' proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help check the spread of coronavirus.

Making the announcement after chairing a high-level meeting to discuss the situation in the state, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said all inter-state borders of the state will be closed for vehicles barring those carrying essentialgoods such as medicines.

Requesting the people to confine to their homes during the lockdownperiod but for buying essential items, he also announced an assistance of 12 kg rice and Rs 1,500 cash to the econmically weaker sections to cushion the lockdown's expected impact.

The over week-long lockdown has been announced under the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, which as invoked in Telangana on Saturday, he told reporters here.

If we should show the same spirit as we did today (Janta curfew) till March 31, we will be able to stop the spread of the disease. Telangana will be under lockdown till March 31, he said.

He further said people more than five in number should not gather and such cases would be seriously dealt with. People should maintain at least three feet distance from others when they come out, he said.

Only one person from a family will be permitted to come out for purchasing essential goods such as medicines, milk and vegetables. People consciously need to take a decision for coming out. Dont feel that the Government is putting pressure, he said.

Maintaining that theimpact of the lockdown will have an effect even after it would be lifted, Rao said 12 kg of rice and Rs 1,500 cash will be given to all 87.59 lakh white ration cardholders in the state in the next two-three days.

The government would immediately release Rs 2,417 crore for the initiatives, he said.

Government departments that come under essential services such as power and health will work normally and others will work on rotation with 20 per cent staff, Rao said.

All activities related to the education department will be closed and the further decisions will be taken on March 31 only, he said.

As per the Act, during the lockdown period all labourers and private employees should be paid their salaries, by their respective employers.

Giving out details of the six fresh cases, he said they included two patients each who came from Dubai and London and one from Scotland.

Rao thanked the people for making the Janta curfew a success.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Rao over phone and appreciated the successful conduct of 'Janta curfew' in the state, a release from the CMO said.

Roads in Hyderabad and other parts of Telangana wore a deserted look on Sunday as citizens remained indoors at several places in the city and across the state from Sunday morning and shops and eateries remained closed.

Rao, who supported Modi's initiative, had on Saturday called for a 24-hour voluntary curfew from 6 am on March 22 to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

State-run Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) buses did not operate while the Hyderabad Metro Rail too remained closed. But five trains have been kept on stand-by to attend to any emergency.

Telangana reverberated with clapping sounds on Sunday evening with Governor Tamilisai Soundararajan and Rao led the state in applauding healthcare providers and others for their service in the ongoing battle against the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, police in Sangareddy district of Telangana on Sunday 'caught' a total of 37 passengers, who returned from Qatar and landed in Mumbai on Saturday night and were travelling in a private bus from Mumbai to Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh via Hyderabad.

Home quarantine was stamped on their hands. We stopped them and shifted them to a quarantine centre in Gachibowli in Hyderabad,' Sangareddy District Superintendent of Police Chandra Shekar Reddy told PTI.

Similarly, one man who came from Australia recently and had quarantine stamp on his hand was caught at the Bhongir railway station after he was found travelling on a train from Hyderabad to Nagpur when fellow passengers alerted the authorities.

The Australia-returned man has been shifted to state-run Gandhi hospital, police said. PTI GDK VVK SJR VS VS