DHARAMSALA, 1 May: India has further extended its nationwide COVID-19 lockdown till 17 May to tackle and prevent the spread of the pandemic. India’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), stated in a press release that the lockdown measures have “led to significant gains in the COVID-19 situation in the country” as it announced the extension of the lockdown for a further period of two weeks with effect from 4 May. The MHA has classified the entire nation into three zones; Green, Red and Orange as it announced its new guidelines wherein the restrictions differ from zone to zone. According to the MHA’s order, “travel by air, rail, metro and inter-State movement by road; running of schools, colleges, and other educational and training/ coaching institutions; hospitality services, including hotels and restaurants; places of large public gatherings, such as cinema halls, malls, gymnasiums, sports complexes etc; social, political, cultural and other kinds of gatherings; and, religious places/ places of worship for the public” are “prohibited throughout the country irrespective of the Zone.” MHA’s new guideline further stated that “movement of individuals, for all non–essential activities, shall remain strictly prohibited between 7 pm to 7 am.” Further, all metropolitan cities -Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad- are placed under the ‘no activity’ zone. “In the Red Zones, outside the Containment Zones, certain activities are prohibited in addition to those prohibited throughout the country. These are: plying of cycle rickshaws and auto-rickshaws; running of taxis and cab aggregators; intra-district and inter-district plying of buses; and, barbershops, spas and salons.” “In the Orange Zones, in addition to activities permitted in Red Zone, taxis and cab aggregators will be permitted with 1 driver and 1 passenger only. Inter-district movement of individuals and vehicles will be allowed for permitted activities only. Four wheeler vehicles will have a maximum of two passengers besides the driver and pillion riding will be allowed on two-wheelers.” “In the Green Zones, all activities are permitted except the limited number of activities which are prohibited throughout the country, irrespective of the Zone. However, buses can operate with up to 50% seating capacity and bus depots can operate with up to 50% capacity.” In all zones, persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, shall stay at home, except for meeting essential requirements and for health purposes. The announcement came just days before the already extended lockdown is due to end on 4 May. India started its 21-day nationwide lockdown on 24 March, as the lockdown neared its end, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of the lockdown until 3v May with a conditional relaxation after 20 April for the regions where the spread has been contained. The government has labelled 130 red-zone districts, 284 orange-zone districts and 319 green-zone districts. The Green Zones are districts with either zero confirmed cases till date; or, no confirmed case in the last 21 days while the rezones are hotspots of the pandemic in the country. Those districts, which are neither defined as Red nor Green are classified as Orange zones. Himachal Pradesh along with Assam, Ladakh, Meghalaya, Puducherry and Tripura have no red zone districts. Out of the12 districts in Himachal, 6 are identified as orange while the rest were green. Himachal, a northern Indian state in the Himalayas has so far reported 41 coronavirus cases. It now has only 8 active cases in the state. Kangra District has become coronavirus free with the recovery of the district’s last two remaining COVID-19 patients on Thursday. The most populous district of Himachal reported five COVID-19 positive cases until now. Of the lot, four of them have recovered while one died due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have the maximum number of red zones at 19 and 14 respectively, followed by Tamil Nadu at 12 and all of Delhi’s 11 districts have been marked as ‘no activity’ zones. Before the government announced the further extension of the nationwide lockdown, the Telangana government has already extended the lockdown till 7 May while the Punjab government has extended it for two more weeks beyond 3 May 3. According to India’s Health Ministry, the country has r reported 35,365 COVID-19 positive cases until today and recorded 1,152 deaths.
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