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Meghalaya extends lockdown in COVID-19-hit East Khasi Hills as active cases, deaths mount

However, Deputy Chief Minister also announced the government’s decision to ease some restrictions and said that banks and post offices would open with reduced staff strength.

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Shillong: The ongoing lockdown in the East Khasi Hills, the most COVID-19-hit district in Meghalaya, which was to have continued up to 5 am on May 10, has been further extended till May 17 with cases of infection and deaths mounting.

Meghalaya on Saturday recorded 11 Coronavirus-related deaths, the the highest number of fatalities on a single day, since the onset of the pandemic in the State last year, and 375 new positive cases were also detected.

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“The government has decided that the lockdown will continue in East Khasi Hills district till 5 am of 17th May 2021,” Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said after chairing a review meeting on Saturday.

The State Government had earlier imposed a five-day lockdown in East Khasi Hills district from May 5. The lockdown was scheduled to end on May 10, but due to the “uncontrollable surge of COVID cases” the lockdown was extended.

East Khasi Hills has been the worst affected out of the 11 districts of the state. Of the total 2,678 active COVID-19 cases, East Khasi Hills district that includes State Capital Shillong has 1,583 cases. Most of the fatalities are also being reported from the same district.

The 11 deaths which were reported during the past 24 hours were all reported from East Khasi districts with hospitals being slowly overwhelmed in the district, health officials said.

“The situation in the state is very serious. Every day we are reporting more than 300 cases for the past 3-4 days. We were not able to reduce the number of active cases,” Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong told reporters after a review meeting chaired by the Chief Minister.

“In view of the grim situation, we have extended the lockdown in East Khasi Hills district till 5 a.m of May 17,” Tynsong said while urging the citizens to take utmost precautions.

Weekend lockdown which was imposed last night will continue in other district of the State from 10 pm (Friday) till 5 am (Monday), he said.

However, during the lockdown, few restrictions will be lifted.

Essential commodities’ shops in localities regulated by the Dorbar Shnong (local administrative body) will be open with strict adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Board examinations scheduled on May 11 and 12 have been postponed and the education department will issue the notification, Tynsong said.

However, Deputy Chief Minister also announced the government’s decision to ease some restrictions and said that banks and post offices would open with reduced staff strength.

Banks and Post Offices will be allowed to function with limited employees. All central and state government offices, other than those exempted will remain closed.

Exempted central and state government offices will function with limited staff and not exceeding 30 per cent strength for Groups ‘B’, ‘C’ and ‘D’.

Commerce and home delivery services for all goods will continue, subject to regulations by the deputy commissioner.

“Construction sites where employees stay within the premises will be allowed to function in the respective premises. Contractors to ensure that no labourers move out of the construction premises,” the Deputy Chief Minister said.

He further announced that MGNREGS activities and farming activities will be permitted throughout the State with strict adherence to protocols by the Health Department.

The 1971 iTeams and Nari have been reactivated to coordinate with local farmers and traders for the transportation of agriculture produce.

Inter-district movement of persons from and to East Khasi Hills district, including the State capital will continue to be restricted.

“Request all citizens to co-operate with us and support us as we battle the ongoing pandemic together. We urge citizens that are above 45 years old to get themselves vaccinated,” the Chief Minister appealed.

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