With the second wave of the pandemic sweeping across the country, the Chandigarh administration on Tuesday, announced its decision to impose a one-day lockdown in the city on the occasion of Ram Navami on Wednesday.
The development comes on a day when Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged state governments to impose a lockdown only as a last resort.
On Tuesday, India's Covid-19 case tally climbed to 1,53,21,089 with 2,59,170 new coronavirus infections being reported during the past 24 hours.
While issuing an order for a lockdown in the city, the Chandigarh administration also announced its decision to extend the night curfew and weekend lockdown by two hours. Currently, the night curfew is being imposed from 10 pm to 5 am.
A proposal regarding a seven-day lockdown will be taken up on Friday, officials said.
The decisions were taken by UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore during a coronavirus review meeting with senior officials and experts, said an official spokesperson.
The joint capital of Punjab and Haryana has seen a surge in Covid-19 cases in the past a few days.
On Tuesday, the city had reported 602 cases, taking the infection tally to 35,148 in the UT, which has reported 421 deaths from the disease so far.
According to an order issued by the deputy commissioner, home delivery of essential commodities such as food, groceries, vegetables and medicines will be allowed.
Non-essential movement shall be prohibited, it said.
There shall be no curb on inter-state movement of essential and non-essential goods, said the order.
The administration announced that the weekend lockdown will start now from 8 pm on April 23 till 5 am on April 26.
The last weekend lockdown on April 16 had started from 10 pm.
The proposal regarding the seven-day lockdown will be considered in the next meeting slated for Friday, it said, adding a decision will be taken after taking into account the number of virus cases in the city.
Badnore directed the police authorities to strictly enforce the lockdown and the night curfew.
All violators must be strictly dealt with, he directed.
If necessary, vehicles should be seized and heavy fine should be imposed on those indulging in non-essential travel or those violating the virus protocol, he said.
Badnore, who is also the Punjab Governor, appealed to residents not to crowd the hospitals.
Only critical cases should be admitted as per medical advice and coronavirus patients with mild symptoms should opt for home isolation, he said.
In the meeting, Bipin Kausal from the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) said they are procuring additional stock of critical medicines like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab.
The doctors at the meeting mentioned about an alarming development, in which many patients were found to have been infected with the infection even after receiving the first dose of anti-virus vaccine.
This is possibly due to negligence and non-adherence to the COVID protocol, said the statement.
The Administrator advised them to examine the matter at the highest-level and find the best solution.
While expressing concern about rising cases, he directed all medical institutions to enhance their bed capacity and store adequate quantity of medicines and equipment to handle the increasing number of patients.
He directed the PGIMER authorities to convert a “sarai” into a temporary hospital, where at least patients with moderate symptoms could be kept and treated.
The Administrator appealed to retired doctors, medical staff and members of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) to come forward and coordinate with the health authorities in the fight against coronavirus.
(With PTI inputs)