Ladakh has been put under virtual lockdown till April 15, 2020, after the number of coronavirus positive cases reached 10 in the union territory.
The latest case is that of a pilgrim who returned from Iran, one of the global coronavirus hotspots, and was diagnosed with coronavirus disease Covid-19.
The district administration of Leh and Kargil has banned mass gathering by imposing prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Orders have also been issued prohibiting entry of tourists, both foreign and Indian, in the region.
An Indian Army soldier is among the 10 Covid-19 positive cases in Ladakh.
The government has taken several precautionary steps such as establishing police checkposts all over the union territory to restrict public movement, particularly barring movement of people between Leh and Kargil, to ensure containment of the spread of infection.
“100% screening of all passengers arriving at all three airports is being carried out. Any passenger movement by road has been barred,” said a central government advisory.
Advisories have also been issued for people asking them to stay in their homes. Apart from all schools and colleges, all government offices have also been closed, except those maintaining essential services such as power, water, food and civil supply, petrol pumps, police, revenue and municipalities, etc.
A majority of public transport has also been barred from plying, except the essential service providers.
All hotels, guesthouses, other tourist accommodations, restaurants, bars, food courts, food joints, road side eateries, community kitchens and shops have been shut down. The only shops allowed to remain open are those selling ration, LPG, essential commodities, vegetables and medicines. The local administration has created mobile shops for the convenience of the people.
“No community hall, government or private, will be permitted to accept any bookings for any public functions, social or religious. Banks and ATMs will take all sanitary precautions such as hand washing, keeping sanitisers, daily fumigation etc,” the advisory further said.
A total of 284 people, including those who returned from Iran, their relatives and contacts, are being monitored by the administration. Of all people under surveillance, 208 are in home quarantine, and being monitored daily by healthcare workers. About 150 people have successfully completed their 14-day mandatory quarantine period.
Among all those who are under quarantine, 58 have been placed in hospital quarantine, and 18 people, including positive and symptomatic suspected cases, are in different isolation wards at SNM Hopsital.
At least 255 Indians have tested Covid-19 positive in Iran where a team of six scientists is stationed at the Indian embassy in Tehran to test people. The country’s apex biomedical research organisation – India Council of Medical Research (ICMR) – had sent a team of six scientists to Iran to set up a make-shift laboratory to test about 6,000 Indians stranded there, of which about 1100 are pilgrims.
The samples are being collected and sent to India in special flights to be tested in ICMR and AIIMS labs.
“A protocol was established and we started testing people stranded in Iran based on that protocol. Those who tested negative are being evacuated in batches. The whole embassy premises in Tehran is being used to manage people. It’s commendable the way the entire process is being implemented, for which the Iran government also has a big role to play for their cooperation,” said Lav Aggarwal, joint secretary, health ministry.