Maharashtra cities are going into shutdown modes to combat the threat of the novel coronavirus that has infected more than 80 people in the country and has killed nearly 5,000 globally. The Maharashtra government has ordered the closure of cinema halls, gyms and swimming pools in several of the state’s cities including Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri Chinchwad and Nagpur from Friday midnight. Schools in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad areas will also remain shut until further orders. Shopping malls, however, will remain open contrary to earlier reports that they too would be shut down.
The announcement was made by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thakeray, who joined his counterparts from several states who have undertaken such drastic measures in an attempt to keep the novel coronavirus threat at bay. Similar measures have been announced in Delhi, Karnataka, Bihar, and Odisha.
Addressing the Maharashtra assembly, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that the government Epidemic Diseases Act of 1897 from midnight to allow it to implement these emergency measures. Thackeray also urged companies to allow their staff to work from home.
The measures come as state government after state government takes drastic measures to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus, which causes the Covid-19 disease. The virus has infected more than 80 people in India (this includes three patients who were discharged after being cured) and has killed one person. Globally, Covid-19 has infected more than 1,30,000 people and killed nearly 5,000.
The global crisis, which has been classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, has forced the central and state governments in India to place restrictions or attempt to cut down on the movement of people. The Indian government has effectively banned the entry of most foreigners into the country.
Those passengers — including Indian nationals — who do reach ports of entry will be undergoing universal medical screening and, in certain cases, mandatory quarantine before they are let into the country. At the state level, several governments, including Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka, Bihar, and Odisha, have shut down facilities such as movie theatres, gyms, and swimming pools as well as schools, colleges, and universities.
The measures are in line with global trends that show that imposing restrictions on social gatherings and making attempts to reduce interaction between people may be one of the best steps to reduce the spread of Covid-19, or novel coronavirus, which currently has vaccine or treatment.
(Update: An earlier version of this story said malls also would be shut down. Maharashtra’s health minister Rajesh Tope later clarified that malls would remain open)
(With inputs from India today)