Ethan Miller/Getty Images/AFP

New Delhi: Not content with banning of travellers from Europe and the elaborate surveillance system in place at airports, the Union government on Thursday suspended international flights for a week, beginning March 22.

The lockdown of airspace came even as coronavirus cases mounted to 180 on Thursday. A fourth death from coronavirus, that of a 70-year-old man who had travelled to Germany, was also reported from Punjab; the other deaths had been reported from Delhi, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

In fact, Punjab became the first state to announce the suspension of public transport services from Friday midnight, besides restricting public gatherings to less than 20.

Bracing for what it fears may be the third crucial stage of community transmission, the state governments have been directed to ensure that all citizens above 65 years of age and children below 10 stay at home and do not venture out.

The only exception to the norm will be public representatives or doctors or government employees.

The Centre has further requested states to enforce the ‘Work from Home’ diktat in the private sector. The only exception would be those working in emergency or essential services.

The centre has ordered its own employees to work from home in a staggered manner - 50 per cent of Group B and C employees will attend office while the rest will log in from their homes.

The working hours of those employees scheduled to attend office on each day will also be staggered. The staggered hours consist of three time slots: 9 am to 5.30 pm, 9.30 am to 6 pm and 10 am to 6.30 pm.

India remains in Stage 2 of the outbreak, which means the spread is through local transmission, which can be traced. The health ministry said there is no evidence of community transmission yet (3rd stage), in which it is hard to tell how the patient contracted the virus.

The Railways and airlines have been asked to suspend all concessional travel, except for students, patients and persons with disabilities.

The coronavirus cases in India include 25 foreign nationals -- 17 from Italy, three from the Philippines, two from the UK, one each from Canada, Indonesia and Singapore.

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