After panic buying, lockdown peaceful, total on Day 1

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Police acts tough against violators ** Ensure essential items on time: Sonowal

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, March 25: Police have acted tough against the violators who ventured out to the streets or keep shops and business establishments (which are not exempted from lockdown) open in different parts of the state defying 21-day nation-wide lockdown from Tuesday midnight.

Police resorted to lathicharge the violators at Jorhat, Kaziranga, Moran, Morigaon, Borjhar and other parts of the state for not following lockdown rules.

Bajali Police resorted to lathicharge to disperse people from the streets.

On the other hand, a large number of people came out of their homes on Wednesday in Dhemaji to buy LPG cylinders.

Markets, offices and even gas agencies were closed and roads were empty across the state on Wednesday, the first day of the nationwide lockdown imposed to check the spread of novel coronavirus, as people remained indoors after resorting to panic buying in the past two days.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday evening announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Officials described the situation as “peaceful” and said that no untoward incident has been reported in the state so far.

Only a few vehicles engaged in emergency duties were seen plying the roads of the towns and cities.

A few grocery shops opened early in the morning but their owners too downed the shutters of their establishments later in the day due to lack of customers.

The supply of milk by private vendors was disrupted in many urban and semi-urban areas of the state, officials said.

Tempos providing water to areas not connected with municipal supply were seen continuing providing their services, they said.

Banks and ATMs remained open but there were hardly any customers, bank officials said.

Areas of usually bustling Guwahati, the commercial hub of Assam and the Northeast, wore a deserted look with only the district administration office, treasury and banks remaining operation with a skeletal staff, they said.

In the hill district of Karbi Anglong, 315 people have been placed under home isolation, a release issued by the deputy commissioner said.

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that his government is taking all necessary steps to provide the essential items to the people of the state during the 21-day lockdown.

In a video message sent to the media, Sonowal said his government is working to ensure that people do not face any difficulty in having essential items during the next 21 days.

The state food and civil supplies, public health engineering and other departments have taken many initiatives so that people do not face any inconvenience during the lockdown period, he added.

“Please follow all the instructions issued by the Health Department. I urge all of you to follow the lockdown as your social and national duty. We believe that you will be able to follow this,” the chief minister appealed.

Meanwhile, state chief secretary, Kumar Sanjay Krishna Wednesday announced that the state government will provide mid day meals to 40 lakh students below 14 years of age at home during the 21-day nationwide lockdown.

“We have ensured that the students do not go to sleep hungry and for that, the state government has decided that to provide mid day meals to the students at home,” Krishna told reporters here.

He said that the state government has taken all necessary steps to combat against COVID-19 and organised facilities for quarantine and equipped healthcare facilities to all government run hospitals in the state.

“We have organised facilities for quarantine and it has more than 2000 numbers and there are more than 500 facilities for isolation. We have enough places for ICU facilities. We have about 150 ventilators and trying to procure some more which will be getting within a week. We have collected 217 samples and out of these 209 samples have been tested so far and all found negative. A large number of people are now in home quarantine and directed all districts deputy commissioner to monitor them regularly,” he added.

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