New Delhi: COVID-19 cases in India climbed to 169 on Thursday after fresh cases were reported, including from Chhattisgarh and Chandigarh, while most of the states and Union territories imposed restrictions, inching towards partial shutdown in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus, which has claimed four lives in the country.
There were 18 fresh cases in the past 24 hours with Chhattisgarh and Chandigarh reporting their first COVID-19 patients on early Thursday. One more person infected with coronavirus died in Punjab, which decided to impose fresh restrictions.
As the virus continued to spread its tentacles across India, several parts, including Kashmir valley headed towards a virtual lockdown with the administration restricting movement of people in several parts and banning all public transport in Srinagar city.
Punjab also inched towards virtual shutdown with the government announcing suspension of public transport services from Friday midnight and restricting public gatherings to less than 20 besides deciding to close down marriage palaces, hotels, restaurants, banquets and dining places, except home delivery services and takeaways in the entire state.
As part of its efforts to detect and prevent the spread of coronavirus, which has claimed over 8,000 lives globally and infected more than two lakh, the Centre allowed 50% its employees to work from home besides staggering working hours for its staff.
It also directed the Heads of Departments (HoDs) to ensure that 50% of Group B and C employees are required to attend office every day and the remaining 50% staff is instructed to work from home.
While the Indian Railways decided to suspend all concessional tickets except for patients, students and those in the Divyangjan category from the midnight of March 20 till further notice to discourage unnecessary travel, IndiGo announced pay cuts for senior employees, including of its CEO who would take the highest cut of 25% amid the novel coronavirus pandemic that has hit the aviation industry hard.
The total tally of 169 include 25 foreign nationals -- 17 from Italy, 3 from the Philippines, two from the UK, one each belonging to Canada, Indonesia and Singapore.
The figure also includes four deaths reported from Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Punjab so far.
Delhi has reported 12 positive cases which includes one foreigner, while Uttar Pradesh has recorded 17 cases, including one foreigner.
Maharashtra has 45 cases, including three foreigners, while Kerala has recorded 27 cases which include two foreign nationals.
Karnataka has 14 coronavirus patients. The number of cases in Ladakh rose to eight and Jammu and Kashmir four. Telangana has reported six cases which include two foreigners.
Rajasthan has also reported seven cases including that of two foreigners. Tamil Nadu has two cases so far.
Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Pondicherry, Chandigarh and Punjab have reported one case each. In Haryana, there are 17 cases, which include 14 foreigners.
Meanwhile, Mumbai's famed tiffin suppliers, the dabbawalas, said they are suspending their services from Friday till March 31 in view of the coronavirus situation.
In the national capital, the upscale Sunder Nagar market in South Delhi has been closed till March 31 in view of the coronavirus outbreak, the traders' body said. It is the first market to shut down in the capital.