The Centre on Thursday asked state governments to enforce work from home for private sector employees to limit gatherings at workplaces in the light of the rising number of coronavirus cases in India.

To reduce crowding at Central government offices, all Group B and C Central employees will be asked to attend offices on alternate week. Staggered timings have also been suggested for all employees, the government said.

These instructions, however, will not apply to the offices and employees engaged in essential and emergency services and those directly engaged in taking measures to control the spread of COVID-19. These orders will be applicable with immediate effect and will remain in force till April 4, 2020.

This comes as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in India rose to 173 on Thursday. The death toll also jumped to four after a patient in Punjab passed away.

In an additional advisory on Thursday, the Centre said state governments will issue appropriate directions so that all citizens above 65 remain at home. Exceptions are allowed for those in need of medical assistance, public representatives, government servants and medical professionals.

Similarly, all children below 10 should be advised to stay at home and not to venture out, the government said.

The government has also banned landing of scheduled international commercial passenger aircraft in India for one week from March 22.

Besides, Railways and civil aviation will suspend all concessional travel except for students, patients and divyang category to deter people from travelling.

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