Dated: 22.03.2020

  1. As you are aware, Government of India in coordination with State Governments has taken several steps to manage and contain the spread of Corona virus COVID-19. These steps have been taken based on the emerging global and domestic scenario, the pattern of spread of COVID-19 witnessed in various countries and expert advice given by eminent doctors and scientists. These include, inter alia, restrictions on international travel imposed in a graded manner, setting up testing labs through the length and breadth of the country, identifying isolation and quarantine facilities, screening and contact tracing, promoting social distancing and framing suitable guidelines in this regard etc.
  2. You will appreciate that there is a need to take further pre-emptive actions to contain the spread of COVID-19 given that there has been a sharp increase in the number of confirmed cases. This was highlighted in the meeting with all Chief Secretaries and Secretaries of Government of India held today. The urgent need for effective and immediate interventions was discussed. It was noted that many State Governments have proactively taken various steps including imposition of stringent restrictions under Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and regulations framed under it to curb non-essential movement, prevent gathering of people and promote social distancing.
  3. As resolved in today's meeting, it is expected that the States would take all necessary pre-emptive actions to contain the spread of COVID-19 by using the available legal provisions, especially in those districts and regions where confirmed cases have been reported or where a large number of people are under surveillance due to risk of infection. Here, the focus should be on closure of all activities except essential services such as hospitals, telecom, medicine shops, provision stores, etc. Establishments/factories engaged in manufacturing and distribution of essential commodities like medicines, sanitizers, masks, etc. should be exempt from these restrictions. All efforts should be made to prevent unnecessary travel. Transport services may operate at mere skeletal level. Railway Board and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs have already announced suspension of train services including sub┬Čurban rails and metro services till March 31st 2020. Goods trains may continue to operate for facilitating availability of essential commodities.
  4. The call given by the Hon'ble Prime Minister for Janata Curfew on March 22nd has evoked spontaneous and widespread response. States may ensure that when the deadline for Janata Curfew ends at 9 PM today evening, there is no large scale movement or assembly of people. Suitable restrictions under Section 144 of Cr.PC may therefore be put in place. The momentum created by Janata Curfew needs to be built upon.
  5. You may also request industries, establishments etc. to allow their employees to work from home and provide remuneration to them during this period. In respect of the poor and vulnerable sections, including casual labour, daily wage workers, etc, proactive measures may be taken to mitigate any hardships that may be caused.
  6. You are also requested to assess the availability of medical services including quarantine and isolation facilities and scale them up to meet all possible contingencies. Efforts may be made to identify and designate hospitals only for COVID-19 management. Adequate testing facilities are being created and private laboratories have also been permitted to carry out necessary tests.
  7. I appreciate your whole hearted support in tackling this unprecedented situation.

Yours sincerely
Rajiv Gauba

Source link: Chief Secretary DO Letter (pdf)