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India reports 2nd coronavirus death, several states in shutdown mode

Last updated on: March 13, 2020 23:50 IST

A 68-year-old woman in Delhi became the country's second victim of coronavirus on Friday as several states went into battle mode to contain the spread of COVID-19, shutting down schools, theatres and colleges, and many public events, including the Indian Premiere League, were postponed.

IMAGE: People wearing mask to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, walk past a cinema hall, in New Delhi, on Thursday. Cinema halls in Delhi will be shut till March 31 as a preventive measure. Photograph: Vijay Verma/PTI Photo

The Union Health ministry put the number of positive cases at 82, eight more since Thursday night, which includes the woman and a 76-year-old man from Karnataka who became the country's first coronavirus fatality besides 17 foreign nationals, Health Ministry officials said.

Health Ministry and Delhi government officials said the woman came in contact with her son, the fifth case of coronavirus in the national capital, with a history travel history to Switzerland and Italy between February 5 and 22.

Her death was caused due to co-morbidity (diabetes and hypertension), they said, adding she had tested positive for COVID-19.

The woman was admitted in Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, officials said.

Cases of the infection have been reported from at least 11 states and territories, including Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala, where three patients were discharged last month after they recovered.

Addressing reporters, officials said coronavirus -- a pandemic that has infected 1,31,500 people in 116 countries and territories and killed more than 4,900 -- is not a health emergency and there is no need to panic.

They said India has evacuated 1,031 people, including from Maldives, US, Madagascar and China.

The Centre has also decided to allow international traffic only through 19 border checkposts out of 37 and continue the suspension of Indo-Bangladesh cross border passenger trains and buses till April 15, or earlier, if so decided.

Officials disclosed that 42,000 people across the country are under community surveillance.

Taking stock of the situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed a video conference of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation leaders to chalk out a joint strategy and set an example for the world.

IMAGE: Passengers wear masks to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic while travelling in a metro, in New Delhi, on Friday. Photograph: Vijay Verma/PTI Photo

'Our planet is battling the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus. At various levels, governments and people are trying their best to combat it,' Modi said on Twitter.

South Asia, which is home to a significant number of the global population, should leave no stone unturned to ensure that the people are healthy, he said.

Amid speculation over the ongoing Budget Session being shortened, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi told PTI, "There is no question of curtailing the session."

While states such as Karnataka, Odisha, Delhi and Bihar went into virtual shutdown mode, the under-pressure Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) suspended the start of this year's Indian Premiere League cricket tournament from March 29 to April 15.

'The Board of Control for Cricket in India has decided to suspend IPL 2020 till 15th April 2020, as a precautionary measure against the ongoing Novel Corona Virus (COVID-19) situation,' BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement.

The statement made it clear that it's a 'suspension' and 'not postponement', which means there is no clarity on whether the event will start on April 15.

Even if it starts on April 15, it is expected to happen behind closed doors without the fans.

The decision came hours after the Delhi government, which on Thursday announced that schools, colleges and cinema halls would be closed till March 31, sad it was also stopping all sports gatherings, including IPL 2020.

Sisodia said district magistrates have been asked to ensure that all directives pertaining to coronavirus are implemented.

Coronavirus declared epidemic in several Maha districts

With 17 confirmed coronavirus patients found in Maharashtra, the state government on Friday ordered closure of cinema theaters, gymnasiums, swimming pools and public parks in cities of Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad till March 30.

The closure order will come into effect from Friday midnight, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said, announcing that the government has invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 to tackle the virus outbreak. 

IMAGE: A priest wearing protective masks as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), offers prasad to a devotee at Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai, on Friday. Photograph: Mitesh Bhuvad/PTI Photo

As provided under the Act, schools and colleges in Pune and neighbouring twin industrial towns of Pimpri and Chinchwad will remain closed till further orders, he told reporters.

Wherever possible, private sector companies should allow employees to work from home, he said.

Theaters, gymnasiums, swimming pools and parks in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Nagpur, Pimpri Chinchwad and Pune will be closed till March 30, he said.

People should also avoid visiting malls and other crowded places, he added.

"We will review the situation and take further decision," Thackeray told reporters after making the same announcement earlier in the assembly.

As many as 17 patients have been confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus in Maharashtra, he said.

10 of these patients are in Pune, three each in Mumbai and Nagpur, and one in Thane which abuts Mumbai.

These decisions were taken as a precautionary measure, the chief minister said, adding that the epidemic was successfully contained in China's Wuhan city after it was
virtually shut down.

Event organisers have been asked not to organise social, political and religious gatherings, the chief minister said, adding that permissions granted earlier stand canceled.

"People have been advised not to visit malls, hotels, restaurants," he said.

Bus and train services fall under essential services and cannot be stopped, the CM said, while urging people to avoid unnecessary traveling.

He also mentioned that the symptoms of those who have tested positive in the state are mild and some of them have no symptoms of the disease at all.

At present four confirmed coronavirus patients are admitted to isolation wards at Kasturba Hospital in Mumbai, 10 at Naidu Hospital in Pune and three at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Nagpur.

Of the 17 patients, 15 had returned from places such as Dubai, France and the United States.

Isolation wards have been kept ready at district hospitals, government hospitals in urban areas and some private hospitals as well, the chief minister said.

As per the Centre's advisory, passengers arriving from China, South Korea, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Iran are quarantined whether they show any symptoms of the disease or not.

"We will ask the centre to include the US and Dubai in the list since patients diagnosed as positive in the state have arrived from these two countries," Thackeray said.

IMAGE: A Jammu Municipal Corporation (JMC) staff member fumigates to disinfect a street on Friday. Photograph: PTI Photo

PM's Gujarat visit postponed

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day visit to Gujarat from March 21 has been put off due to the coronavirus scare, it was announced in Gandhinagar on Friday.

Making the announcement about deferment of the PM's visit, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said new dates will be finalised later.

"In view of the current situation which has arisen due to the coronavirus and a recent central government advisory asking states to avoid organising any large gatherings or seminars, Prime Minister Modi's visit to Gujarat on March 21 and 22 has been postponed," he said.

Notably, no positive case of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has been reported so far in the home state of Modi.

Patel said the state government is taking all necessary steps to avoid the spread of the virus in view of positive cases reported from neigbhouring Maharashtra and some other states.

Earlier, authorities had announced that Modi will be in Gujarat for two days to inaugurate a host of projects.

On March 21, he was expected to address a large gathering in Vadodara.

On the same day, he was scheduled to visit Kevadiya in Narmada district to inaugurate a clutch of new tourist attractions near the Statue of Unity.

On March 22, the PM was scheduled to inaugurate an 800-bed facility of the U N Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre (UNMICRC), popularly known as UN Mehta Heart Hospital in Ahmedabad.

IMAGE: Students wear protective masks in Chikmagalur, on Friday. Photograph: PTI Photo

Karnataka govt announces lock-down of malls, theatres, pubs and night clubs

A day after the country's first coronavirus death was reported from Kalaburagi in Karnataka, the state government on Friday leapt into action announcing lock-down of malls, cinema theatres, pubs and night clubs for a week.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa also issued instructions to stop all kinds of exhibitions, summer camps, conferences, fairs, marriage, sports and engagement events and birthday parties state-wide for a week from Saturday.

"We will close all universities for a week in the entire state," he told a press conference.

As much as possible try to avoid travelling, the chief minister said, adding instructions have been issued to pay special attention at government residential schools and hostels.

Examinations like Class 10 and others will go on as per schedule, he said, adding schools will continue to remain shut, colleges will also be closed for a week.

Responding to a question, the chief minister said, IT professionals and other professionals working in air-conditioned places should work from home for time being, for
about a week.

"We are giving it as an advice."

He however said, government offices and assembly session will continue as usual.

Yediyurappa said the measures were taken in public interest and sought their cooperation.

The chief minister said the decision has been arrived at after discussion with medical experts and officials.

IMAGE: People wear masks at Colaba market in Mumbai. Photograph: PTI Photo

On reviewing the situation after a week, next course of action will be decided, he said.

In its latest bulletin regarding COVID-19, the state government said, six samples were found positive for COVID-19 including that of the 76-year old man from Kalaburagi.

Chairperson of Infosys Foundation Sudha Murty had on Thursday urged the Karnataka government to take steps to shut malls and theatres, saying the coronavirus multiplies in air-conditioned areas.

She suggested closure of all schools and colleges with immediate effect, malls, theatres and 'all air-conditioned areas where the virus multiplies', and allow only essential services like pharmacy, grocery and petrol bunks.

Meanwhile, Google confirmed that the 26-year old man who tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday was a company employee of its Bengaluru office.

'The employee has been on quarantine since then, and we have asked colleagues who were in close contact with the employee to quarantine themselves and monitor their health,' the company said in a statement.

District officials in Kalaburagi said 46 people who were in direct contact with the 76-year old man who died on Tuesday night due to co-morbidity and coronavirus infection have been placed under quarantine.

Kalaburagi Deputy Commissioner Sharat B said 31 of them have been categorised as 'high risk' and the remaining 15 as 'low risk'.

The high-risk persons are being shifted to ESIC hospital in Kalaburagi.

Officials said four family members of the man have displayed flu symptoms and their swab samples have been sent for testing in Bengaluru.

IMAGE: Punjab police personnel wearing protective masks guide a commuter in Bathinda, on Friday. Photograph: PTI Photo

Bihar shuts schools, colleges, theatres, parks, and zoos; Bihar Diwas celebrations cancelled

M I Khan reports from Patna: Bihar government on Friday decided to shut schools, colleges, coaching institutes, cinema halls, museums, zoos and parks till March 31 in view of rising coronavirus cases in the country.

Bihar Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar announced the decision of the state government after a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was held in Patna to discuss the alarming situation.

The government also cancelled events marking Bihar Diwas on March 22. There will no public celebrations during the period.

It was decided that government employees will attend offices on alternate days to ensure functioning of offices along with minimising crowding.

Earlier, the government had decided to close all 1.14 lakh anganwadi kendras in the state.

According to an official release, so far no confirmed case of cornavirus has been reported in Bihar.

However, 60 suspected cases have been detected till date, some of them are being treated at various hospitals.

The state government has tightened vigilance on seven border districts along Nepal.

Punjab, Haryana, Odisha shut all schools till March 31

In the wake of coronavirus scare, the Haryana and Punjab governments on Friday ordered closure of all universities and colleges till March 31.

Also, Punjab and Union Territory Chandigarh ordered closure of all schools with immediate effect until March 31, while Haryana decided to shut schools in five districts, all neighbouring the national capital.

The Department of School Education, Haryana, has decided that all the government and private schools in five districts -- Gurgaon, Sonepat, Rohtak, Jhajjar and Faridabad will remain closed till March 31, officials said.

However, schoolchildren in Punjab, Chandigarh and the five Haryana districts will take their exams as per schedule.

According to an advisory issued by the Panchkula-based Director General of Higher Education, "The state government has decided that all universities and colleges situated in Haryana will be closed till March 31 as a precautionary measure."

The department of school education Haryana, meanwhile, in its order stated, 'All the government as well as private schools situated in Sonepat, Rohtak, Jhajjar, Faridabad and Gurgaon districts will remain closed till March 31 with immediate effect, except for holding examinations.'

'The students will attend schools only to take board exams, annual exams and assessment exams, March this year as per the previous schedule.

'However, all the teaching and non-teaching staff members will attend the school as usual,' it said, adding that schools in remaining districts shall function as per the normal schedule.

Punjab Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla said, "Holidays have been declared in all government and private schools in the state till March 31 as a precautionary measure."

Punjab's Higher Education Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bjawa said the government has decided to close all government, private colleges and universities till March 31.

Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore, who is administrator of UT Chandigarh, held a meeting here to review the situation in the wake of COVID-19.

The Chandigarh administration has invoked the Epidemic Disease Act to enforce preventive steps to prevent any spread of coronavirus infection.

A seven-member Group of Ministers (GoM), formed by the Punjab government to review the situation on a daily basis triggered by coronavirus scare, on Friday asked the deputy commissioners not to grant permission for mass gatherings.

In a meeting held here under the chairmanship of local bodies minister Brahm Mohindra here, the GoM also urged religious leaders and Dera (sect) heads to postpone their scheduled religious congregations.

In the wake of scare caused by coronavirus, Haryana's Home Minister Anil Vij on Friday ordered ban on holding of all public rallies, big religious gatherings and sports events that attract crowds, a day after the state declared COVID-19 an epidemic.

Speaking to reporters here after reviewing the situation in the state in the wake of coronavirus scare, Vij, who also holds the Health department portfolio, said, " We reviewed the situation and also took stock of things."

"We took some important decisions. We have banned holding of all public rallies with immediate effect, including political rallies. Besides, any large social, religious or sporting events which attract crowds, have also been banned till further orders," said Vij.

Meanwhile, two officer couple in Punjab who recently returned from Italy and Switzerland have quarantined themselves at their homes, the officials further said.

In Odisha too, the Naveen Patnaik government announced that educational institutions would be closed till March 31 but provided an exception for holding exams.

He said the government has earmarked Rs 200 crore to combat the coronavirus threat and declared COVID-19 a 'disaster'.

Non-essential official gatherings such as seminars, workshops and conferences are to be cancelled, Patnaik said.

Social gatherings and assemblies like religious functions, marriage receptions and parties will be regulated by local authorities.

Cinema halls, swimming pools and gyms in the state will be closed as well.

Schools, cinema halls closed in MP, no positive case of COVID-19

The Madhya Pradesh government on Friday ordered closure of schools as well as cinema halls in view of the coronavirus threat.

While schools, both government and private, will remain closed indefinitely till further order, cinema halls will remain closed till March 31, or as per further order.

An order issued by the Commercial Tax Department and signed by deputy secretary S D Richharia said all cinema halls across the state have been asked to remain closed from March 14 to March 31 or till further order.

Earlier in the day, the state government ordered closure of private and government schools for an indefinite period in view of the virus threat.

School examinations, though, would be held as per the schedule.

The order signed by Principal Secretary, School Education Department Rashmi Arun Shami said all private and government schools would have a temporary holiday with immediately effect.

Teachers and non-teaching staff will have to attend schools during this period, the order stated.

So far, no confirmed case of the coronavirus has been found in the state.

The step to close schools has been taken as a precautionary measure, the official said. 

 

J-K govt orders closure of all malls, gyms, swimming pools in Jammu

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday ordered closure of all malls, gyms, swimming pools, recreational clubs in the district till March 31 as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of novel coronavirus, an official said.

As it is not possible to serve this order individually, it shall be circulated in print, electronic and social media for information of all concerned, District Magistrate (DM) Jammu, Sushma Chauhan said.

'It is hereby ordered that all shopping malls, gyms, swimming pools, recreational clubs of Jammu district shall remain closed with immediate effect,' she said in the order.

Any violation of this order shall invite action under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) by order of the district magistrate, Jammu, she said.

The virus has a pattern of transmission at a rapid rate incase prescribed preventive protocols like avoiding mass gatherings are not strictly followed, the DM said.

She said it is felt that large gatherings in malls, gyms, swimming pools, recreational clubs may cause the spread of COVID-19 from infected to non-infected; 'Whereas, Section 144 of the CrPC empowers the undersigned to issue certain directions and orders in urgent case of nuisances of apprehended danger when it is considered that such direction is likely to prevent danger to human life, health or safety'.

All schools, colleges in UP to be shut till March 22

The Uttar Pradesh government on Friday declared closure of all schools and colleges where examination process is not going on till March 22 in view of coronavirus scare and asserted that all precautions are being taken to check the spread of the disease.

"All schools and colleges associated with the basic, secondary, higher education and vocational colleges, where examination process is not on, have been closed till March 22," Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath told newspersons in Lucknow.

Wherever the examination process is underway it will go on as per schedule.

The concerning people have been instructed to take all precautionary measures and maintain hygiene, the chief minister said.

IMAGE: Medics outside an isolation ward of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at a hospital in Hyderabad, on Friday. Photograph: PTI Photo

So far, 11 coronavirus cases have been reported from the state of which 10 are being treated in Delhi and one in KGMU, Lucknow, he said, adding that these include seven from Agra, two from Ghaziabad and one each from Noida and Lucknow.

Yogi, who convened a high-level meeting of senior officials to deliberate on coronavirus, said an alert in this regard had been declared about a one and a half months ago and necessary advisory was also issued.

Isolation wards have been set up in all the 75 districts and medical staff of doctors, paramedical, nursing staff is being provided necessary training.

Stressing on adopting all precautions to check the spread of the disease, specially at airports on Indo-Nepal border areas, he said there is an effort to avoid mass gatherings for which an appeal was made to the BCCI for the India-South Africa match slated in Lucknow on Saturday.

The match will now be held without spectators but would be telecast live, the chief minister said.

Chhattisgarh govt orders closure of libraries, gyms

The Chhattisgarh government on Friday ordered closure of all public libraries, gyms and swimming pools in urban areas of the state till March 31 amid novel coronavirus scare, officials said.

The government also issued orders to keep anganwadi and mini-anganwadi centres in the state shut during this period as a measure to prevent the spread of infection.

IMAGE: A child who was tested negative for the novel coronavirus rides on a hoverboard scooter, at the ITBP quarantine facility for testing of the COVID-19, in Chhawla, New Delhi, on Friday. All 112 people who were evacuated from China’s Wuhan last month and admitted to an ITBP quarantine facility tested negative for coronavirus. Photograph: Arun Sharma/PTI Photo

"All public libraries, swimming pools, water parks and government, semi-government and private gyms located under the jurisdiction of civic bodies will be compulsorily closed till March 31 for the prevention and control of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection," a government official in Raipur said.

State Urban Administration Department's Secretary, Alarmelmangai D, in a communique to district collectors, Municipal Corporation commissioners and chief municipality officers of Nagar Palika Parishad and Nagar Panchayats, has ordered strict compliance of the directives, he said.

Similarly, in view of the Centre's advisory, the state Women and Child Development Department ordered closure of anganwadi and mini-anganwadi centres.

However, the beneficiaries will continue to get ready-to-eat food as per the provisions from these facilities, the official said.

Due to the coronavirus scare, the ongoing budget session of the Chhattisgarh Legislative Assembly, which will resume on March 16 after the Holi vacation, will be adjourned from March 17 to March 25, an assembly official said.

A decision in this regard was taken in the meeting of Work Advisory Committee of the state legislative assembly held on Friday.

Since the proceedings of the committee meeting are tabled in the House, it will resume on March 16, after which the announcement of adjournment till March 25 would be made, he said.

As per the previous schedule, the budget session, which commenced on February 24, was supposed to continue till April 1.

On Thursday, the state government had ordered to shut all schools, colleges and universities till March 31.

However, exams will be held as per schedule in these educational institutes.

No confirmed coronavirus case has been reported so far in Chhattisgarh, where samples of 44 persons screened for possible exposure to the virus tested negative till Thursday, health officials said.

However, test results of the samples of nine persons, including two students of Hidayatullah National Law University (HNLU) in Raipur district and a CRPF jawan posted in insurgency-hit Sukma district, are awaited, they said.

In Odisha, the Naveen Patnaik government announced that educational institutions would be closed till March 31 but provided an exception for holding exams.
He said the government has earmarked Rs 200 crore to combat the coronavirus threat and declared COVID-19 a "disaster".
Non-essential official gatherings such as seminars, workshops and conferences are to be cancelled, Patnaik said. Social gatherings and assemblies like religious functions, marriage receptions and parties will be regulated by local authorities.
Cinema halls, swimming pools and gyms in the state will be closed as well.

Jamia Millia, JNU suspend classes till March 31

The Jawaharlal Nehru University and the Jamia Millia Islamia on Friday suspended all lectures, examinations and events on its campusus till March 31, in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

IMAGE: Airline staff and passengers wearing mask at Chennai International Airport, on Friday. Photograph: R Senthil Kumar/PTI Photo

Events such as seminars, conferences and workshops on the campus have also been postponed.

"All lectures, class presentations and examinations at JNU are suspended until March 31, 2020, with immediate effect. Conducting any event such as seminars, conferences, workshops, etc. on the campus during this period that requires a gathering of people should be postponed," read a notice issued by Dr. Pramod Kumar, registrar of the JNU .

It was also notified that basic mess facilities will be available to the hostel residents during this period. Kumar requested JNU residents to follow the COVID-19 guidelines issued by the university."

The Jami has decided to close all schools run by it till March 31 but the Board examinations will continue as per the schedule.

CRPF cancels anniversary celebrations

The Central Reserve Police Force on Friday postponed its raising day celebrations planned to be held next week in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

The 3.25 lakh central force was supposed to hold the main ceremonial parade and display of martial skills with the involvement of thousands of troops at its officers academy campus in Gurgaon on March 19 to mark its 81st raising day.

India reported its first death due to coronavirus on Thursday as the number of positive cases soared to 74.

The deadly virus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December last year has claimed over 4,600 lives and infected more than 124,330 people worldwide.

"Conforming to precautionary advisory to break the spread of COVID-19, all CRPF programs in connection with CRPF raising day and passing out parade of 51st batch DAGOs (directly appointed gazetted officers) have been postponed," the force said in a statement.

"The CRPF has joined the national response against COVID-19 by gearing up its medical facilities," it said.

The passing out parade of its latest batch of officers was scheduled to be held after the raising day event on March 21.

Taking a similar action, the Central Industrial Security Force had last week postponed its anniversary day celebrations to be held on Friday.

However, the CISF is now mulling to hold this event on March 28 after reviewing the threat posed by the disease that has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

"The Union home ministry has explicitly asked all forces under its command to avoid large congregations like these events and the CISF raising day will be postponed further if the coronavirus situation does not improve," a senior official said.

Delhi govt shuts all swimming pools 

The Delhi government has ordered the shutting of all public swimming pools in the city with immediate effect till March 31 in wake of coronavirus outbreak, an official said on Friday.

The health department of the Delhi government had issued an order in this regard on Thursday, the official said, adding swimming pools of all hotels and other entities, where people use the facilities, will be closed.

On Thursday, the Delhi government had declared coronavirus an epidemic and shut all cinema halls, schools and colleges, except those where exams are on, till March 31.

Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia also issued an order, saying, "All educational institutions -- schools, colleges, ITIs, polytechnics, universities and private coaching and tuition centres -- will remain closed till March 31, except for holding examinations."

112 housed at ITBP quarantine test negative for coronavirus

All 112 people admitted to an Indo-Tibetan Border Police quarantine facility in Delhi for over a fortnight have tested negative for coronavirus and are expected to be released on Friday, a senior official said.

All of them were evacuated last month from Wuhan in China.

"After 14 days of quarantine at ITBP facility in Chhawla, 112 inmates, including 36 foreign nationals, have tested negative for coronavirus," an Indo-Tibetan Border Police spokesperson said.

"Today is the 16th day of their quarantine," he said.

Minister of state for home Nityanand Rai and ITBP chief S S Deswal will meet them at the facility and see them off around 11 am, he said.

Indian Embassy sets up helplines to address queries on travel restrictions

The Indian embassy in the United States has set up 24-hour helplines to address questions on the recent travel restrictions implemented by New Delhi in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In a statement the embassy said it has set up round-the-clock helpline numbers "for queries and clarifications regarding the recent travel advisory issued by the government of India for travel to India in view of the spread of coronavirus".

Helpline numbers are being operated at the embassy in Washington DC and consulates at Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Houston and San Francisco.

India on Wednesday suspended all visas, except a few categories such as diplomatic and employment, till April 15 in view of the coronavirus outbreak, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation.

The suspension came into effect from 1200 GMT on March 13 at the port of departure.

"All existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN/International organisations, employment and project visas, stand suspended till 15th April 2020. This will come into effect from 1200GMT on 13th March 2020 at the port of departure," an official statement said issued on Wednesday.

Visa-free travel facility granted to Overseas Citizenship of India card holders is also kept in abeyance till April 15, it said.

The embassy in its statement said helpline numbers 202-213-1364 and 202-262-0375 will address queries from Bermuda, Delaware, the District of Colombia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

Those residing in these states can also reach out to the embassy at cons4.washington@mea.gov.in.

For Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virgin Islands the numbers are 404-910-7919 and 404-924-9876, and the email id is cons-atlanta@mea.gov.in.

Those in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin can call 312-687-3642 and 312-468-3276 or email at visa-chicago@mea.gov.in.

Helpline number 713-626-2149 is open for those residing in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Nebraska. The email id is enquiriescgi@swbell.net.

The New York consulate is operating helpline numbers 347-721-9243 and 212-774-0607, and email id visa.newyork@mea-gov.in for states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Those in Alaska, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming can call 415-483-6629 or email at oci2.sf@mea.gov.in.

The government has also 'strongly advised' Indians to avoid all non-essential travel abroad.

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