Coronavirus Pandemic: PM Modi tells people not to panic (Photo Credit: File Image)
Amid global outbreak of COVID-19, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday urged countrymen not to panic and take extra precautions to stop the spread of coronavirus. PM Modi took to twitter and said that the government is fully vigilant about the situation and the ministries, states have taken multiple steps to ensure the safety of the people. "The Government is fully vigilant about the situation due to COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus . Across ministries & states, multiple steps have been proactively taken to ensure safety of all. These steps are wide-ranging, from suspension of Visas to augmenting healthcare capacities," PM Modi tweeted. "Say No to Panic, Say Yes to Precautions. No Minister of the Central Government will travel abroad in the upcoming days. I urge our countrymen to also avoid non-essential travel. We can break the chain of spread and ensure safety of all by avoiding large gatherings," PM Modi wrote in another tweet.
Say No to Panic, Say Yes to Precautions.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 12, 2020
No Minister of the Central Government will travel abroad in the upcoming days. I urge our countrymen to also avoid non-essential travel.
We can break the chain of spread and ensure safety of all by avoiding large gatherings.
The Government is fully vigilant about the situation due to COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus .— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 12, 2020
Across ministries & states, multiple steps have been proactively taken to ensure safety of all.
These steps are wide-ranging, from suspension of Visas to augmenting healthcare capacities.
The Health Ministry on Thursday also held a press briefing and said that over 1,500 people are under observation for coming in contact with the 73 positive cases of coronavirus. While addressing the media, Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry said that the government is taking all the necessary steps to control the spread of COVID-19. "We already have around 1 lakh testing kits available, additional testing kits have already been ordered and they are also in procurement. Right now, luckily for India we do not have any community transmission. We have only a few cases that have come from outside and they have primarily affected their close family members," he said.
Listing the measures taken by the government to bring situation under control, the ministry said that the authorities have scanned over 10.5 people so far at 30 designated airports in India. "So far, the Government of India has evacuated 900 Indian citizens along with 48 belonging to other nations like Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, US, Madagascar, Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa, and Peru," Lav Aggarwal said.
"Visa-free travel facility granted to Overseas Citizen Of India (OCI) cardholders are kept in abeyance till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200 GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure," he added. Urging the people not to panic, the health ministry said that mask is not always necessary, if a person maintains effective social distance, mask is not needed. There is no need to panic.
More than 490 flights operated by foreign carriers to and from India have been cancelled for varying periods of time while the count of weekly flights cancelled by domestic airlines is more than 90, as per official data.
The number of cancelled flights on international routes is expected to rise as India has also suspended all visas, except a few categories such as diplomatic and employment, till April 15 as part of efforts to curb spreading of coronavirus infections. Data shared by aviation consultancy CAPA showed that capacity or the number of seats available weekly on various international flight routes connecting India has significantly come down for the week that started on March 9 compared to the situation in December last year.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the number of international passengers arriving at the country’s airports has come down to around 62,000 per day from 70,000 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. According to him, the count might further come down to around 40,000 following the travel advisory issued on Wednesday. There are 30 international airports in the country.
From being “nimble in approach” to adverse impact on quarterly earnings, domestic carriers have already flagged their concerns about coronavirus impact on their businesses. The Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO) has flagged various problems in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, including that of “less sales at the Food and Beverage, and retail outlets” at aerodromes.
In a letter to the civil aviation ministry on Wednesday, the grouping also said airport operators are now required to significantly beef up manpower deployment as well as make expenditure on items like masks, sanitisers and floor cleaners, in order to ensure compliance with various government advisories. Further, APAO has sought approval for “levying of a nominal passenger facilitation charge as part of airline fares to cover increased operating expenses being incurred by the operators”, as per the letter.
It has also sought provisioning of an “airport operator alleviation package by AERA to facilitate the growing operational expenses”. Regulator AERA fixes tariffs for certain categories of airports. Referring to the government’s decision to suspend visas from March 13 till April 15, CAPA said the ban would cripple the aviation industry with very serious impact on airlines with weaker balance sheet.
(With agency inputs)