On Saturday, May 2, Indian authorities extended the suspension of international and domestic flights until 23:59 (local time) on Sunday, May 17, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak. During this period, all existing bans on trains and interstate travel will remain in place, with an exception for cargo transport and flights approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Government officials announced on Friday, May 1, a 14-day extension of the current lockdown as of Monday, May 4. Authorities stated that there would be certain relaxations of measures to allow for economic activity in districts marked as orange and green zones in the government's plan to contain COVID-19. However, red zones, including Mumbai and New Delhi, will remain subject to strict lockdown restrictions.
Under the current lockdown, individuals are banned from leaving their homes and only essential services remain operational; most shops, offices, markets, and places of worship are closed, and interstate bus and train services are suspended. A ban on international commercial passenger flights is also ongoing. Cargo operations and flights with prior approval are exempt from the restrictions.
Interstate movement for stranded migrants has been permitted, including workers, tourists, and students. All migrants must undergo health screenings at both source and destination and will be subject to a mandatory quarantine upon arrival in their home state.
On Saturday, April 25, the Ministry of Interior announced that small shops in residential areas would be permitted to reopen. The ministry advised that standalone stores could reopen with immediate effect if certain conditions were adhered to. Stores can only operate with a maximum of 50 percent of the workforce and should maintain social distancing measures, including the wearing of face masks. Shopping malls and other large multi-brand stores are to remain closed and no shops will be allowed to reopen in hundreds of 'hotspots' where there is a high rate of COVID-19 infections.
Industries in the information technology sector, as well as agricultural and other rural industries, were allowed to resume operations on Wednesday, April 15. The construction of roads and buildings in rural areas was also allowed to resume. Restrictions were also lifted on e-commerce and the movement of goods by road, as well as the resumption of air cargo and port operations.
As of May 2, there are 37,776 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1223 associated fatalities in the country. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected over the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantine measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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