COVID-19 in Haryana: DCs of six districts authorised to impose Section 144, order work from home

Chandigarh: In a bid to tackle the coronavirus situation, deputy commissioners of six worst-hit districts in Haryana may prohibit the gathering of four or more people and order "work from home" in all corporate and IT offices, an official statement said.

Deputy commissioners of Gurgaon, Faridabad, Hisar, Karnal, Sonipat and Panchkula have been asked to impose, if needed, Section 144 of the CrPC to control the COVID surge, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar told reporters after chairing a state-level meeting of the coronavirus control committee.

He, however, ruled out the imposition of a lockdown in the state but said there will be "lockdown-like conditions" in place in the worst-hit six districts, if needed.

IT and corporate offices should avoid crowding, he said, asking employees to adopt the "work from home culture" to break the chain of the coronavirus infection.

The chief minister also ordered a restriction on gatherings in functions with the maximum limit fixed at 50 people for both indoor and outdoor events in the state, the statement said. He said for funerals, only 20 people will be allowed. Earlier, the limit for outdoor gatherings was 500 and indoor 200.

He asked people to postpone marriage functions. "The authorities will only allow gatherings if it is necessary with a limit of 50 people," he added.

He said private hospitals have been asked to keep 50 percent of their beds for infection patients. A provision for 1,000 beds have been made at the PGI in Rohtak, he added.

He said there will now be at least 2,250 beds with oxygen facilities in government hospitals.

On the issue of medical oxygen, the chief minister said the situation is under control and there is no shortage of it in hospitals.

"We had demanded 180 metric tonnes of liquid oxygen a day from the Centre, who fixed our quota at 162 MT," he said, adding that the state government will submit a revised demand of 200 MT per day to the Centre.

Khattar said his government had placed an order for 6,000 MT of liquid medical oxygen from the Bokaro steel plant, which will arrive soon by a special train. The use of liquid oxygen in the industry for non-essential items has been banned, he said.

Besides, OPD services have been curtailed in government hospitals across the state.

Khattar said only 50 percent attendance will be allowed in government and private sector offices across the state.

He said the supply of oxygen to Delhi from the Panipat plant will continue uninterrupted. Six small plants manufacturing liquid oxygen will be operational in the state in the next two days, he said.

Stressing that the state government was "alert and on toes", he asked the public not to create panic over the issue of oxygen.

He said anti-COVID injections will be administered to those above 18 years free of cost at government facilities from 1 May. The registration process for those who want to be inoculated will start from 28 April, he said.

The sharp surge in cases and fatalities continued in the state with Haryana on Friday recording 60 deaths and 11,854 cases, the highest daily figure so far.

More than one-third of the fresh infections were reported from Gurgaon, which along with Faridabad and Sonipat, is among the worst-hit districts.