Rattled by an unprecedented spike in COVID-19 cases, the Bihar government has decided to implement total lockdown in the state for 15 days. The lockdown would come into force from tomorrow and will remain in effect till the end of July. A government order said restrictions between July 16 and July 31 will remain applicable to all district, sub-division and block headquarters and municipal areas.
The spike in the number of novel coronavirus cases has put the state health department on alert. The state government has asked all health department employees to cancel their leaves and contribute to the services.
Government offices, private and commercial establishments, barring some exceptions, and places of religious worship and educational institutions will remain closed. The announcement came as the state registered its worst daily increase in COVID-19 patients with 1,432 cases.
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi in a tweet blamed the recent spike on “laxity in taking precautions at public places” and urged people to demonstrate a “collective will” to break the infection chain during the coming phase of lockdown.
The state government order, which cited a Ministry of Home Affairs communication of June 29 for containment of the pandemic, also said the decision was taken in view of the “alarming surge in COVID 19 cases…in last three weeks”.
Over 30 lakh migrants from different parts of the country have returned to Bihar and many of them have been found infected with the virus. Two state ministers and several MLAs have also tested positive for the virus.
At BJP state headquarters in Patna, more than 20 people, including four senior office-bearers, have tested positive for COVID-19, its Bihar unit chief Sanjay Jaiswal said. Reports in a section of the media here, however, stated that the number of people found infected was as high as 75.
Transport services “will remain suspended” during the lockdown though ferrying of taxis and auto-rickshaws will be allowed. Industrial establishments will be allowed to function and construction activities will be permitted with strict adherence to social distancing norms and wearing of masks.
Agricultural activities, along with shops relating to the same, will also be allowed to function. Air and rail traffic will remain functional and transportation of goods, including loading and unloading at warehouses, “will be allowed without any hindrance”.