In a series of temporary preventive measures, the Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 on Monday banned the entry of travellers from European Union nations, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the United Kingdom to India from March 18.

After its seventh meeting on the COVID-19 outbreak, the GoM also called for expanding the compulsory quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days for passengers coming from/transiting through UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait.

Odisha reports first case 

The Union Health Ministry update on COVID-19 cases reported four new cases, taking the tally to 114 confirmed cases, including 13 discharges and two deaths, and 5,200 contacts, who are under surveillance. One fresh case each was reported from Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Kerala, the Ministry said.

Reports from States, however, put the total number of cases, including fatalities, at 123. The highest number of cases at 39, is from Maharashtra, with two more people, including a Philippine national, testing positive, State Health Department officials said. With one more confirmation, Karnataka now has eight cases.

The national capital, which has so far reported seven COVID-19 cases and one death, announced that all gyms, night clubs and spas will remain shut till March 31 and that a gathering with more than 50 persons, excluding weddings, will not be allowed.

A senior Health Ministry official said if an Indian from Europe or U.K. or Turkey travels to another country from which there is no ban, such as the U.S. or Australia, he or she will be “allowed entry and quarantined or advised home quarantine depending on his condition.” He added that this was already being allowed for Indians returning from France or Germany via Dubai in UAE.

Speaking at a press meet, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal, assured that “adequate number of tests are being done to get information about any community transmission”.

“We don’t want to create panic and conduct unnecessary mass testing of people as of now. There is no requirement for it,” he added.

Mr. Agarwal said social distancing is a non-pharmaceutical infection prevention and control intervention implemented to avoid/decrease contact between those who are infected with a disease causing pathogen and those who are not, so as to stop or slow down the rate and extent of disease transmission in a community.

“This eventually leads to decrease in spread, morbidity and mortality due to the disease,” he added.

The GoM also recommend closure of all educational establishments, gyms, museums, cultural and social centres, swimming pools and theatres, avoiding non-essential travel, encourage private sector organizations/employers to allow employees to work from home wherever and do video conference meetings.

Religious centres, restaurants and market associations have also been asked to minimise crowds.

News Source: The Hindu


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