Uttar Pradesh and Delhi seal hotspots until April 15: No one gets in or out

Maulshree Seth, Amil Bhatnagar, Sourav Roy Barman
Uttar Pradesh and Delhi seal hotspots until April 15: No one gets in or out

People crowd shops in Noida after the sealing announcement Wednesday. (Express Photo: Gajendra Yadav)

The Uttar Pradesh government on Wednesday decided to seal coronavirus hotspots in 15 districts until April 15 as part of a cluster containment exercise, where only medical services and home delivery of essential items would be allowed.

While entire districts will not face such stringent lockdown measures, movement of people will be completely curbed in these hotspots, and all shops will be shut.

In Delhi, too, 22 small pockets, including lanes and apartment complexes, were notified as ‘containment zones’, wherein tougher restrictions, including on essential services, will be implemented. By Thursday, more areas are likely to be sealed, which include Central Delhi’s Sadar Bazar and pockets of West Delhi, district magistrates told The Indian Express.

“Many cases were reported from the Sadar area, so it is being contained and sealed. There are 20 such places in Delhi where people are not allowed to come out of their lanes or apartments and people from outside are also not allowed to go in,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.

In Uttar Pradesh, the hotspots are in districts where more than six cases have been reported, including Agra, Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar (which includes Noida and Greater Noida), Kanpur Nagar, Varanasi, Sitapur, Shamli, Meerut, Bulandshahr, Saharanpur, Bareilly, Firozabad, Basti and Maharajganj.

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Despite the administration urging people not to panic, long queues formed outside grocery stores in the evening in several areas, including Noida, Greater Noida, and Ghaziabad, as people attempted to stock up on essential supplies. As the footfall surged, many shopkeepers reported running out of essential items since supply lines have already been hit.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Chief Secretary R K Tiwari said, “We have decided to seal hotspots in 15 districts of the state. Rest of the places would continue with the usual lockdown exercise. Hotspots are places from where a cluster of coronavirus cases have been reported. These places would be sealed and only medical services and home delivery would be allowed.”

Uttar Pradesh and Delhi seal hotspots until April 15: No one gets in or out

Long queues formed outside grocery stores in several areas as people attempted to stock up on essential supplies. (Express Photo: Gajendra Yadav)

Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Awasthi said these hotspots would be sealed until the morning of April 15. The largest number of hotspots are in Agra (22), followed by Ghaziabad (13), Gautam Budh Nagar (12), and Lucknow (12). The hotspots range from entire sectors to specific apartment complexes.

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“In these hotspots, there would be no relaxation but there is no need to panic as medical services and civil supplies would be delivered to the doorstep. Other areas would remain as they were during the lockdown,” Awasthi said. He said that in the sealed areas, everything from grocery stores to banks would be closed until April 15.

Director General of Police Hitesh Chandra Awasthi said, “These are clusters where there is a history of positive cases and a potential of spread. After the sealing exercise, an extensive sanitisation drive would be conducted through fire services in these areas.

Uttar Pradesh and Delhi seal hotspots until April 15: No one gets in or out

Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Awasthi said these hotspots would be sealed until the morning of April 15. (Express Photo: Gajendra Yadav)

“While all the civilian passes would be cancelled for these sealed regions, civil supplies would be given at the doorstep. All commuting in these areas would be stopped like it is done during any curfew. There would be barricading and these areas would turn into zero-traffic zones,” DGP Awasthi said.

Officials said those involved in essential services would be allowed to head to work. “There will be 24-hour patrolling and surveillance will be maintained through drones to ensure people do not move out. All those not involved in essential services — their passes will not be effective anymore. Anyone requiring emergency medical services will be rushed through an ‘advanced life support ambulance’ since use of private vehicles is not allowed. Constant announcements will be made via loudspeaker,” the DGP said.

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Anyone from outside the sealed zone will not be allowed in, except those with government, police, fire or sanitisation departments.

Additional Chief Secretary Awasthi said the government has also made the wearing of masks compulsory for everyone, and action will be taken against those who step out without their face covered.

So far, 343 cases have been reported in Uttar Pradesh, which includes 187 related to last month’s Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi’s Nizamuddin West. In Delhi, 669 cases have been reported so far, including 426 related to the Markaz gathering.

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