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Bihar, which will go under lockdown, has nearly 20,000 COVID-19 cases so far (Representational)Patna: Bihar has announced a state-wide coronavirus lockdown for 16 days – from July 16 to July 31 – following an “alarming surge in COVID-19 positive cases in the last three weeks”.Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi tweeted confirmation of the shutdown during a virtual rally, saying the Nitish Kumar government had “taken a decision to this effect (because) coronavirus has neither any vaccine nor any medicine”.On Tuesday Bihar reported 1,432 new COVID-19 cases – its biggest single-day spike. This was the fourth consecutive day with over 1,000 fresh infections; on Sunday 1,266 new cases were recorded.Bihar now has nearly 20,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which over 5,000 are active and 160 are deaths linked to the virus.Earlier this month Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was also tested for the virus after a close relative, who had been staying at his official residence in Patna, was found to be infected.Mr Kumar’s sample returned negative for the novel coronavirus.Bihar’s lockdown announcement comes hours before Karnataka capital Bengaluru enters a week-long lockdown. The city has more than 20,000 cases.A lockdown has also been imposed in Maharashtra’s Pune, where 1,333 new infections were reported Monday to take the total number of cases to 40,000.Restrictions on movement have also been reintroduced in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, two of the worst-affected states.During the more than two-week-long lockdown in Bihar, shops selling groceries, vegetables, milk and dairy products, and meat will be allowed to function.However, authorities have encouraged (and will facilitate) home delivery of essential goods to minimise movement of people.Air and rail transport services will remain functional, as will taxis and auto-rickshaws. Private vehicles will also be allowed, but only for permitted activities.In addition, petrol stations, banks and ATMs will be open, as will restaurants – albeit only for takeaway and delivery services.State and central government offices, apart from those dealing with essential services, will remain closed.Schools, colleges, places of worship and all sports and cultural complexes will also remain closed, in line with a central order.All of these rules will not apply to containment zones in Bihar, which will continue under strict central government guidelines that see only essential services allowed.Meanwhile, 24 people in the Bihar BJP office, including four senior office-bearers, have tested positive for COVID-19, Sanjay Jaiswal, chief of the party’s state unit, said.”These reports are of preliminary rapid tests. We’re still awaiting results of the comprehensive QT-RPR. None of those who tested positive have any symptoms. Yet, by way of abundant caution, they have all quarantined themselves at home,” Mr Jaiswal said.24 Bjp workers tested positive for COVID in Patna not 74 as reported by some news channels [email protected]@[email protected]@abpnewshindi— Sushil Kumar Modi (@SushilModi) July 14, 2020The office building is being sanitised, news agency PTI has said.India, which imposed what many described as the world’s strictest lockdown, has struggled to control the outbreak since relaxations were eased to help the struggling economy.The country now has over nine lakh COVID-19 cases (a week ago it had seven lakh), including 3.11 lakh active cases and 23,727 deaths.With input from AFP, PTI

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