The number of coronavirus cases in India is creeping towards 120 (Representational)
- Number of coronavirus cases creeping towards 120
- Government advised people to avoid non-essential travel
- Employees of private companies encouraged to work from home
The number of coronavirus cases creeping towards 120, the centre on Monday declared a countrywide lockdown of schools, colleges, gyms and swimming pools -- crowded areas that could allow for exponential spread of the virus. After a meeting of a Group of Ministers which reviewed the situation on Monday, the government also advised that people avoid non-essential travel and employees of private companies work from home. The famous Siddhivinayak temple in Mumbai will remain indefinitely shut to devotees starting Monday evening. The Delhi government announced a series of restrictions, which includes a ban on gatherings of 50 and more people. Asked if the ban will apply to the Shaheen Bagh protest against the contentious citizenship law, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said, "Nothing but weddings are exempt".
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Social distancing as a preventive measure has to be undertaken till March 31, said Lav Agarwal, a senior official of the health ministry. All ASI-protected monuments, central museums across India to be shut till March 31 amid coronavirus scare, Culture Minister Prahlad Singh Patel was quoted as saying by news agency PTI. From Tuesday, the iconic Taj Mahal will remain closed to visitors. The Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary, Senchal Wildlife Sanctuary and Singalila National Park will also be shut.
"People come in thousands to catch a glimpse of the Lord Siddhivinayak and in such a time, it is our responsibility to take every precaution," said Aadesh Bandekar, a trustee of the Siddhivinayak temple. The Siddhivinayak temple, dedicated to the Lord Ganesha, is the latest among a string of the country's most prominent shrines to respond to the virus threat. Earlier, the temples at Shirdi and Sabarimala had asked devotees to postpone their visit for a few weeks.
Maharashtra registered the highest number of cases -- 39, taking the total nuber of cases across the country to 114. Across the state, 108 people are under observation at hospitals, and 621 under home quarantine, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said "No religious, social, cultural and political gatherings comprising more than 50 people will be allowed till March 31". All autos and taxis will be disinfected for free, the Chief Minister said, adding that hand sanitisers would be placed at maximum places in the city, including shopping malls.
At least 25 doctors are among the 75 employees of a premier health institute in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram, who have been kept in isolation after a doctor who returned from Spain tested positive for coronavirus.
With Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland banning the entry of foreigners and tourists from other Indian states – all seven northeastern states have to do so. Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya shut down all educational institutions, cinema halls, clubs, swimming pools, gyms and even anganwadi centres till March 31. In addition, Meghalaya has shut down open markets, banned sports events and wants more people to work from home. No case of coronavirus has been detected in the northeast.
The Kamal Nath government in Madhya Pradesh, facing a collapse, has adjourned the state assembly for 10 days to stave off a trust vote. The government said the long break was to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Amid a global economic plunge over coronavirus, Reserve Bank Governor Shaktikanta Das said, "Covid-19 outbreak, now a pandemic, is evolving into a human tragedy. Human activity disrupted in nations. Financial conditions have tightened".
Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has announced that all schools and colleges will be shut and a Rs 200 crore fund will be created in the state to tackle coronavirus.
Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien, who gave a demonstration today in parliament with "locked hands", made some strong remarks on coronavirus and said: "There comes a time in the life of a nation when we have to rise above our party flags".