Coronavirus: Updates from around the world

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Women maintain social distancing outside a bank in Bhopal, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, on April 15.
Women maintain social distancing outside a bank in Bhopal, in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, on April 15. Gagan Nayar/AFP/Getty Images

A handful of Indian states and union territories have begun to ease lockdown restrictions in line with guidelines issued by the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA):

In a televised address on April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended the nationwide lockdown till May 3, but announced a conditional relaxing of restrictions in parts of the country with low or zero levels of coronavirus cases.

Which states are easing restrictions? 

Maharashtra: With 4,203 confirmed cases and 223 deaths as of Monday morning, the western state currently has the highest number of cases in the country, but will begin to allow some essential activity in certain “orange” and “green” zones that have recorded low levels of cases.

The measures being relaxed are geared towards the agricultural sector — farming, fisheries and plantations — which provide a lifeline for thousands of farmers across the country. Red zones where there is a high or increasing number of cases will not see relaxations.

“We have given permission only for industries in the essential sector and the transport of essentials,” Uddhav Thackeray, the chief minister of Maharashtra said in his weekly address on April 19, adding that district borders will remain closed and all other services will remain shut until May 3. 

“We want transport of goods and not of the virus,” Thackeray added

Kerala: The southern state, which has been praised for its success in tackling the outbreak, has now drawn criticism from the MHA after announcing a substantial easing of restrictions in “green zones.”

This includes restaurants opening with social distancing rules in place, private vehicular movement under the “odd-even” scheme, which enables cars with even and odd number plates to drive on alternate days.

“This amounts to dilution of guidelines issued by MHA and a violation of MHA Order dated 15th April 2020,” read a tweet by the spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“The Government of Kerala is urged to revise guidelines in line with MHA guidelines, without any dilution and ensure strict compliance,” continued the tweet.

Madhya Pradesh: Agricultural activity and manufacturing will resume in districts that have no cases, as well as in districts that have a low number of hotspots and have managed to contain cases.

Essential public works programs will also be allowed, but with strict rules on social distancing. Like the agricultural sector, the public works department provides an income for hundreds of thousands of daily wage earners across the country.

“However, in districts where the situation is dire, such as Indore, Bhopal and Ujjain, there will be no relaxations because our first priority is people’s lives,” Shivraj Chauhan, chief minister of the central Indian state said in an address on Sunday. 

Uttar Pradesh: The chief minister of India’s most populous state, Yogi Adityanath, reviewed lockdown measures on Sunday and asked district magistrates to decide on the relaxation of measures.

“There are 19 districts that have more than 10 positive cases of coronavirus. District authorities should be reluctant to take risks while making decisions on relaxation from April 20 in these areas. No relaxations will be made in hotspot areas,” Adityanath said in an address on Sunday. 

States that won’t ease restrictions

Delhi: Lockdown restrictions will continue in the capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced Sunday, adding that he would reassess the situation with experts after a week.

‘’Delhi has 11 districts and all of them have declared hotspots. As per the central government, restrictions cannot be relaxed in containment areas,” Kejriwal said.

“All 186 Covid-19 positive cases reported yesterday were asymptomatic. They didn’t know they had coronavirus, which is more worrying,” he added.

Delhi has the second highest number of cases in the country, with 2,003 confirmed cases and 45 deaths as of Monday morning. 

Punjab: Lockdown restrictions in the north Indian state will remain until May 3, in line with the nationwide extension.

Telangana: The southern state has decided to extend lockdown measures until May 7.



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