Noida: Action Against 1,324 People Amid Lockdown Curbs, Essential Shops to Open 6 Am to 11 Pm

Noida, Mar 25 (PTI) No new COVID-19 patient emerged on Wednesday in Gautam Buddh Nagar, which has so far recorded the maximum cases in Uttar Pradesh, even as police took action against 1,324 people for defying restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus outbreak, officials said.

The district adjoining Delhi has reported 11 coronavirus positive cases so far, while one of the patients who tested positive earlier this month has been discharged after treatment and the remaining continue to be hospitalised, they said.

By Wednesday evening, 137 people were quarantined - 48 of them at Gautam Buddh University hostel - and the rest in special isolation facilities at hospitals in Noida and Greater Noida, the Health Department stated.

"A total 378 samples have been sent for COVID-19 test so far of which 11 have tested positive, 280 negative and result for 88 was awaited," the department stated, adding that 1,667 people were currently under surveillance in the district.

Uttar Pradesg has so far recorded 37 positive cases, including a foreigner, while the all-India tally stood at 606, including 10 deaths, according to central government data.

As curbs under CrPC section 144, which bars assembly of four or more people, remained in place amid a nationwide lockdown, the Noida Police on Wednesday said it took action against 1,324 people who disobeyed restrictions imposed by the government.

"As many as 405 FIRs were registered under Indian Penal Code Section 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) against those who defied CrPC section 144 curbs. Also 276 vehicles were impounded and challans issued to 2,576 vehicles for similar violations and collected fines totalling Rs 55,100," the police said in a statement.

During the day, the police said it checked 13,594 vehicles across 112 checking points in the district and allowed passage to 1,093 vehicles with emergency cases.

Panic-buying of grocery and vegetables was witnessed at several stores and kiosks in Noida and Greater Noida on Tuesday night, minutes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced imposing a 21-day nationwide lockdown from Wednesday in a major bid to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The situation, however, improved after the Uttar Pradesh government's repeated assurances to the people that supply of essential supplies would not be impacted during the lockdown period.

The district administration also issued an order stating that grocery, fruits and vegetables stores, milk kiosks, pharmacies and those providing home deliveries of essential supplies will remain open from 6 am till 11 pm.

The 24x7 services like some hospitals and petrol and CNG stations will continue their services as it is, it added.

"This order, effective immediately, has been passed to ensure there is no panic among people and they do not throng the shops and form crowds, defeating the very purpose of the lockdown and social distancing which are crucial in the fight against coronavirus," District Magistrate B N Singh said.

Despite curbs, panic buying was witnessed at some places in the evening, even as situation remained normal at various others.

"The situation appeared more panicky than that of the demonetisation and that too at a time when social distancing was required. People were not wearing masks and were struggling to get fruits and vegetables," Khusro Ather, a resident of the posh Sector 41, told PTI.

Ankur Saxena, a resident of Sector 77, said, "There was panic buying and uncertainty last evening after the lockdown announcement. But nothing like that now. People have realised that there will not be any shortage."

Also, it being the first day of the nine-day Hindu festival Navratri, some families and people observing fast found it particularly difficult to procure fruits and buckwheat flour (kuttu).

"We are observing fast but seeing the current situation I suggested my family members not to venture out. We would have preferred to have more fruits, sabudana and kutta ka atta but we'll manage with whatever we have already got. We'll re-assess the situation after a day or two," Rupali, who stays with her husband and in-laws in Sector 50, said.

Meanwhile, the officials said people can dial 807662361, 6396776904 (Health Department) and 0120-2569901 (Noida administration) round the clock to get their queries related to COVID-19 answered.

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