Rumour-mongering about COVID-19 is a punishable offence now

Rumour-mongering about COVID-19 is a punishable offence now

The government has taken several steps to contain the virus, including suspension of all visas to India till April 15, after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.

A 76-year-old man in Karnataka died due to coronavirus and became the first COVID-19 fatality in India.

Only diplomats and others with official visas will escape the clampdown.

In Malaysia, the Health Ministry has confirmed 20 new Covid-19 cases as of noon yesterday, bringing the tally to 149.

These closures follow total shuttering of cinemas in China, Italy, Iran and the Czech Republic, as well as partial ones in Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and northern France. Over 4,300 people around the world have succumbed to the virus so far.

An Indian policeman looks out from a tent at an isolation ward set up for possible COVID-19 patients in Jammu, India. It also urged Indian nationals to avoid all non-essential travel overseas, in one of the most far-reaching advisories since the outbreak began in late December.

The government also "strongly advised" Indians against non-essential foreign travel, warning that they can be subjected "to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days".

Worldwide traffic through land borders will be restricted to designated check posts with robust screening facilities. The advisory notes that "any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reason" should get in touch with the nearest Indian embassy or consulate for guidance.

Separately, India's Bureau of Immigration said that all visas and e-visas granted to French, German and Spanish nationals before Wednesday "and who have not yet entered India stand suspended with immediate effect".

All global Passengers entering India are required to furnish duly filled self-declaration form in duplicate (including personal particulars i.e. phone no. and address in India) to Health Officials and Immigration officials and undergo Universal Health Screening at the designated health counters at all Points of Entry.

Visas granted to Chinese nationals before February 5 also continue to be suspended, the statement read.

"All our members are suffering at the moment", said Chetan Gupta, general secretary of the Association of Domestic Tour Operators of India, adding that the visa ban risked taking tourism and business activity to an "all time low". Moreover, 83 evacuees from Italy who arrived in India on Wednesday have been housed at the Manesar quarantine facility.

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