India will go on a 21-day nationwide lockdown from today to fight the coronavirus pandemic, PM Modi announced via a televised address on Tuesday night. The national lockdown comes as India reported more than 50 new cases of Covid-19, taking the latest total of patients to 557.
Covid-19 has claimed 11 lives in the country with authorities reporting one death each in Delhi–the second in the national capital–and Maharashtra on Tuesday and over 500 persons being afflicted by the viral infection. Fears are also mounting that more could be hit as the global coronavirus toll inches towards 17,000.
PM ANNOUNCES NATIONAL LOCKDOWN
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a complete lockdown of the entire country for 21 days in an unprecedented drastic measure to try halt the spread of coronavirus shortly after which the Centre said all road, rail and air services will remain suspended during this period.
In his second address to the nation in less than a week on the growing concerns over Covid-19, Modi said the lockdown will be in force from Tuesday midnight, as he announced a Central allocation of Rs 15,000 crore to strengthen the health infrastructure to tackle the disease.
Fears over the spread of the disease have already led the governments in the states and union territories to clamp a lockdown till March 31the date till which road, rail and air services have been suspended. However, freight movement will continue to carry essential commodities across the country, officials said.
According to 6-page guidelines released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, fair price shops and those dealing with food, groceries, fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, fish and animal fodder will remain open. The guidelines also stipulated that making a false claim to get any relief during lockdown may result in imprisonment for up to two years.
GOVT EXTENDS TAX DEADLINES, WAIVES ATM CHARGES
The government on Tuesday extended the deadline for filing income tax and GST returns, raised threshold of default that could trigger insolvency of a company and waived charges on cash withdrawals from ATM of other banks as a precursor to a broader stimulus package for the economy distressed by the coronavirus outbreak.
The last date for filing income tax returns for 2018-19 as well as that for linking PAN with biometric ID Aadhaar has been extended by three months to June 30. The last date for filing GST annual returns for last fiscal, which is due on March 31, has also been extended till the last week of June.
NPR, CENSUS DEFERRED
The exercise to update the National Population Register (NPR) and the first phase of the Census-2021 have been deferred indefinitely due to the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, officials said on Tuesday.
The two exercises were supposed to be carried out from April 1 to September 30.
Due to the prevailing situation, the NPR and Census exercises have been deferred till further orders, a senior home ministry official said.
SHAHEEN BAGH SITE CLEARED
In an early morning action amid the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus, the police on Tuesday removed anti-CAA protestors at Shaheen Bagh, more than three months after they had occupied a critical road connecting Noida and south Delhi.
Protestors were also cleared from the anti-CAA protest site in Hauz Rani in south Delhi, Turkman Gate in Old Delhi and Jaffarabad in northeast Delhi on Tuesday morning, the police said.
FIRST CORONAVIRUS CASE IN NORTHEAST
A 23-year-old woman tested positive for the coronavirus in Manipur, the first confirmed case in the Northeast, a top state health department official said on Monday.
The woman, a resident of Thangmeiband Lourung Purel Leikai area in Imphal West district, had recently returned from the UK, a statement issued by Health Services Director K Rajo Singh said.
She had reached Delhi from London on March 18 and taken another flight to Kolkata, where she stayed for a few days with fever and a sore throat. From there she took a flight to Imphal via Agartala on March 21, official sources said.
RAJYA SABHA POLLS POSTPONED
The Election Commission has deferred the Rajya Sabha polls scheduled for March 26 in view of the coronavirus outbreak, an official statement said on Tuesday.
Election to fill up 55 seats in the Upper House of Parliament was to be held on March 26, but 37 candidates from 10 states have already been elected without a contest.
“Fresh date of poll and counting for the said biennial elections shall be announced in due course after reviewing the prevailing situation,” it said.