Government advisory on Social Distancing Amid Coronavirus

By      21-Mar 2020       Reading Time: 6 Mins

Government advisory on Social Distancing Amid Coronavirus

Amid the fear of coronavirus, to calm the panic amongst people, on Monday of this week, the group of ministers (GoM) in a high-level meeting under the chairmanship of Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, issued a comprehensive advisory on coronavirus (Covid-19) directing states across India to take social distancing measures as a preventive strategy for implementation till March 31. 

Some agencies doubt Community transmission and so the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is conducting a surveillance of random samples to confirm whether there has been any transmission of the disease in any community. Each of its 52 laboratories is taking 20 random samples from nearby public and private hospitals to test for Covid-19. Community transmission takes place when a virus is transmitted locally within a community. The accepted belief so far has been that Indians have contracted the virus abroad and that patient quarantine has stopped community transmission.

According to the government recommendations, meetings should be held through video conferencing. In the case of the food industry, the government asked restaurants to ensure adherence to hand washing protocol and proper cleanliness of frequently touched surfaces and ensure physical distancing (minimum 1 metre) between tables; and encourage open-air seating where practical with adequate distancing.

Similarly, the Centre said that the organizers of sporting events and competitions involving large gatherings should postpone such events. The government on Monday also prohibited the entry of passengers from the European Union, Turkey and UK into India as a step.

The Union Health Ministry has issued following measures for social distancing in a 15-point advisory to the state governments:

Advisory on Social Distancing Measure in view of the spread of COVID-19 disease

  • Closure of all educational establishments (schools, universities, etc), gyms, museums, cultural and social centers, swimming pools and theatres. Students should be advised to stay at home. Online education to be promoted.
  • It is advised private sector organizations/employers to allow employees to work from home wherever feasible.
  • Restaurants should  ensure handwashing protocol and proper cleanliness of frequently touched surfaces. Ensure physical distancing (minimum 1metre) between tables; encourage open-air seating where practical with adequate distancing.
  • Local authorities should  have a dialogue with organizers of sporting events and competitions involving large gatherings and they may be advised to postpone such events.
  • Meetings, as far as feasible, shall be done through video conferences/calls. Minimize or reschedule meetings involving a huge population unless necessary.
  • Keep already planned weddings to a limited gathering, postpone all non-essential social and cultural gatherings.
  • Local authorities to have a dialogue with opinion leaders and religious leaders to avoid mass gatherings and should ensure no overcrowding/at least one-meter distance between people.
  • The possibility of postponing exams may be explored. Ongoing exams to be conducted only after ensuring the physical distance of one meter amongst students.
  • Local authorities to have a meeting with traders associations and other stakeholders to regulate hours, exhibit necessary Do’s and Don’ts and take up a communication drive-in market places like sabzi mandi, anaj mandi, bus depots, railway stations, post-offices, etc., where essential services are provided.
  • All commercial activities must keep a distance of at least one meter between customers. Take measures to reduce peak hour crowding in markets.
  • Non-essential travel should be avoided. Buses, trains, and airplanes to maximize social distancing in public transport besides ensuring regular and proper disinfection of surfaces.
  • Hospitals should follow the necessary protocol related to COVID-19 management as prescribed and restrict family/friends/children visiting patients in hospitals.
  • Hygiene and physical distancing have to be maintained. Avoid shaking hands and hugging as a matter of greeting.
  • Special protective measures for delivery men/ women working in online ordering services.
  • Keep communities informed consistently and constantly to avoid panic.

Over to you

Across the world, more than 6,703 people have died due to Covid-19, while the number of those infected stands at over 175,250. India reported four new cases—one each from Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Kerala—of Covid-19 and the death toll has already risen to five.

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