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Modi government has been battling coronavirus with proactive steps: Here are the key developments since January

From screening every passenger entering the country, setting up quarantine facilities to enforcing a nation-wide lockdown, the government has been working on a war-footing.

As the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic has gripped almost the entire world, many countries have taken extreme measures to arrest the spread. The Indian government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken pro-active steps to counter the Chinese pandemic.

From screening every passenger entering the country, setting up quarantine facilities to enforcing a nation-wide lockdown, the government has been working on a war-footing. A series of decisions taken by the Modi government has limited the impact of the pandemic in the country.

In a series of tweets, Akhilesh Mishra, CEO of BlueKraft Digital Foundation, explained the detailed break up of Modi government’s pro-active steps to fight the health crisis and presented the details on how the centre swung into action soon after China notified about the Coronavirus infection on January 7.

Here is a timeline of the decisions taken by the government of India to handle the Chinese epidemic COVID-19:

January 7, 2020: China notified the world about COVID-19. The WHO officials announced they had identified a new virus. The novel virus was named 2019-nCoV, identified as belonging to the coronavirus family.

January 8, 2020: The Health Ministry under the Indian government did its first mission meeting to discuss the necessary actions to be taken.

January 17, 2020: The Indian government decided to take pre-emptive steps to limit the pandemic. The Modi government started screening of all passengers arriving from China.

January 25, 2020: Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Modi chaired a high-level review meeting on the instructions of PM. Dedicated teams from central government begin inspection of all airports. Nearly 20,000 incoming travellers from 115 flights at seven airports were screened for the transmission. All state hospitals were put on alert and kept in the loop.

January 27, 2020: The central government had held a cabinet meeting to review preparedness to counter the Chinese pandemic. Health Ministry held a review meeting with all the Principal Secretaries of the state to review the preparedness.

The government of India asked all the airlines to report illness of any passengers on all flights directly or indirectly connected with China.

January 29, 2020: The government of India banned the export of N95 masks and Personal protective equipment (PPE).

January 30, 2020: The first case was confirmed in Kerala’s Thrissur district in a student who had returned home for a vacation from Wuhan University in China. WHO declares Chinese COVID-19 as a health pandemic. Six labs were identified for testing.

January 31, 2020: Quarantine facilities are set up by the Indian government at Manesar and Chawla camp for the people who return from China. Another facility with 50-bed critical care centres was set up at Safdarjung hospital, New Delhi. By the end of January, quarantine facilities were set up and testing labs were identified. 

February 1, 2020: Modi government began evacuation of Indian citizens stuck in China. India evacuates 324 passengers from Wuhan, China using Air India flights.

February 2, 2020: India evacuated remaining 330 Indians and 7 Maldives nationals from Wuhan, China.

February 3, 2020: PM Modi constituted an Empowered Group of Ministers (E-GoM) headed by Health Minister to tackle emerging situations.

The Government of India put up advisory against travel to China and suspends all types of e-Visas given to Chinese passport holders. By the end of February, travel advisories were extended to other places like Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, etc.

February 7, 2020: Health Minister gave a statement in the Parliament: A total of 1,39,539 people returning from 1275 flights were already screened. 150 passengers who were suspected to have carried the symptoms were sent to quarantine facilities. Integrated Disease surveillance network tracking was done for almost 7,000 people. 305 symptomatic travellers referred to isolation centres and being monitored.

February 13, 2020: Health Minister Dr Harshavardhan addressed media on the status, actions that have been taken and the preparedness of all the states, ministries concerned.

February 22, 2020: Modi government issues travel advisory to people visiting Singapore.

February 24, 2020: Vietnam, Nepal, Indonesia, Malaysia added to the screening list

February 26, 2020: Another travel advisory issued by the central government to avoid travel to South Korea, Iran and Italy.

Air India evacuated another batch of 76 Indians and 36 foreigners from Wuhan, China.

March 3, 2020: India’s began its actions to tackle COVID-19. The Modi government introduces universal screening for all incoming passengers at all airports. There were just six reported cases of COVID-19 infections in India by March 3.

Prime Minister in a high-level meeting reviewed the country’s preparedness and interacts with various ministries and state governments.

March 4, 2020: Prime Modi Narendra Modi sends a direct message as he announced that he will not participate in any ‘Holi Milan’ programme as experts have advised reducing mass gatherings to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

March 7, 2020: PM Modi held another review meeting to stake stock of the situation. The government of India issues new quarantine guidelines to all the passengers who had returned to India, asks to self-monitor themselves and follow the recommended DOs and DONTs.

New visa restrictions imposed on visas granted to France, Germany and Italy. Regular visas granted to all foreign nationals who had travelled to these countries also suspended.

March 10, 2020: Indian Air Force evacuated 58 Indian pilgrims from Iran.

March 11, 2010: The Indian government suspended all visas to India except diplomatic visas till 15 April 2020. India also suspended visa-free travel facility for OCI card holder’s till 15 April 2020 and all the Indian nationals coming from COVID-19 hit nations after 15 February needed to be quarantined for 14 days.

Another 44 passengers were evacuated from Iran on 11 March. 83 people were evacuated from Italy by Air India.

March 12, 2020: Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on urgency and importance of the situation. PM Modi asked the nation to not panic over the coronavirus outbreak. In a social media post, PM Modi urged the nation to ‘say no to panic, say yes to precautions’.

The Prime Minister assures that the government was “fully vigilant about the situation due to COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. Across ministries & states, multiple steps have been proactively taken to ensure the safety of all. These steps are wide-ranging, from the suspension of Visas to augmenting healthcare capacities.”

March 14, 2020: With positive cases still below 100, 52 labs were set up to test the symptomatic patients.

March 15, 2020: Under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi, the leaders of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) member nations connected with each other via video-conference to formulate a strategy to tackle the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the region. The idea to hold the discussion via video-conference was proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who called on his SAARC contemporaries in this regard on March 14.

Prime Minister Modi, in collaboration with the SAARC, announces to set up COVID-19 Emergency Fund based on voluntary contributions from member countries. India announced US$10 million as its initial contribution to support the initiative.

March 18, 2020: At below 175 cases, India decides to quarantine all passengers travelling from or transitting through four GCC countries -Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, Oman. The government also bans travelling to European Union (EU), EUFTA, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

March 19, 2020: With still less than 200 cases, Indian reacts to the global pandemic in a war mode. Prime Minister Modi addresses the nation in the wake of Wuhan coronavirus epidemic. Prime Minister Modi urged citizens to follow resolve and restraint. He also called for a ‘Janta Curfew’ (public curfew) on March 22.

The government decided to set up a COVID-19 Economic Response Task Force to monitor the economic impact that is being caused due to global pandemic.

All incoming international flights to India stopped after 22nd March. Export of ventilators prohibited.

March 20, 2020: Prime Minister Modi interacted with all the Chief Ministers of all the states, requests for augmenting facilities and greater support to vulnerable sections of the society.

March 21, 2020: The centre puts 75 districts on lock-down. PM Modi interacts with the Pharma industry and urges the industry to work on manufacturing RNA testing kits for COVID-19 on a war footing.

March 22, 2020: Janata Curfew to be followed across the country. The Indian Railways stop all its services across the country, except goods movement from March 22. Metro, inter-state transportation suspended.

India increases its testing capacity now to perform 50,000 tests/week.

March 23, 2020: The centre asks state governments to enforce strict guidelines on lockdown in 75 districts. The government suspends all domestic airlines operation from March 24.

Prime Minister Modi interacts with industry leaders, India Inc and urges to use their CSR funds for humanitarian causes during the Chinese epidemic.

March 24, 2020: PM Modi addressed the nation and announces a nationwide lockdown for 21 days till April 14 to fight the spread of Chinese Coronavirus.

March 26, 2020: The Narendra Modi government announced a massive economic package. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveils a Rs 1.75 lakh-crore welfare stimulus package to the country. Her announcement came as 21-day nationwide lockdown began on Wednesday to curb the spread of highly contagious illness.

March 27, 2020: The Reserve Bank of India came up with a massive relief package. Imposed a moratorium on loan repayments. Eased norms on policy rates, capital loans. Measures were taken to inject liquidity to the tune of Rs 3.74 lakh crore to the economic system.

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