On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commenced his fifth virtual meeting with the Chief Ministers of all the states to take stock of the novel coronavirus crisis. This assumes significance as the third phase of the lockdown will end on May 17. Earlier, such meetings took place on March 20, April 2, April 11, and April 27. Currently, there are 67,152 confirmed novel coronavirus cases out of which 20,917 patients have recovered while 2,206 casualties have been reported.
As per sources, the PM in his opening remarks stressed that the economic activities had to be continued maintaining social distancing as the novel coronavirus might stay for a long time. He reportedly said that India had fought the COVID-19 crisis with great success with the support of all states, but observed that the danger of infection remained especially in the villages. He urged the respective CMs to provide their suggestions so that the further strategy to combat the novel coronavirus could be finalised, sources added.
In a major step towards easing of restrictions, the Ministry of Railways on May 10 announced that 15 pair of trains (30 return journeys) will run from New Delhi station to Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Mumbai Central, Bengaluru, Jammu Tawi, Bhubaneswar, Ranchi, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon, Ahmedabad, Secunderabad, and Chennai from May 12. It also promised to start special trains on new routes depending on the available coaches after reserving 20,000 coaches for the COVID-19 Care Centres and an adequate number of coaches to enable operation of up to 300 Shramik Special trains. The tickets will be available for sale from 4 pm on Monday, May 11 solely on the IRCTC website.
Issuing Standard Operating Protocol earlier in the day, the Ministry of Home Affairs mentioned that the passengers shall be allowed to enter the station with confirmed e-tickets. All passengers will be compulsorily screened and only asymptomatic can board the train. Moreover, they must wear face masks during entry and travel.