- All schools, colleges and theaters closed in Delhi till March 31
- 6 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Delhi so far
- India's first coronavirus death, 76-year-old man from Karnataka
Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket matches will be banned in Delhi to minimise the spread of the novel coronavirus, the city government said today, announcing that gatherings of over 200 people at sporting events or conferences will not be allowed until further notice "for the purpose of prevention and control of the outbreak of the epidemic disease, COVID-19".
"Thousands will come for these events, from all over. There is no way to know who is coming, where they are coming from and no way to control their arrival. It takes only one person to spread this disease, to be a carrier," Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia told reporters this morning.
"For this reason, the government has decided to ban these events. Right now, social distancing is the best solution," he added, stating the intention was not to stop sports but the mass gathering of people.
It is unclear if this means IPL matches will be allowed to take place in an empty stadium, in the same way that the ongoing India-South Africa One Day International (ODI) series is taking place.
A similar ban on sports events, including the IPL, has already been enforced by other states. Maharashtra, where 11 cases have been reported, has banned ticket sales for the opening match of the 2020 IPL season that was to have been held on March 29.
The ban comes a day after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal ordered the closure of all schools, colleges and cinema theatres in the city till March 31. Primary schools had been shut earlier this month; secondary classes were left open in view of exams.
As the virus spreads and fears over infection grow, the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the national capital has suspended all classes and postponed all exams till March 31.
There have been six confirmed cases of novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, in Delhi so far, where it has been declared as an "epidemic".
Late Thursday night, the Union Health Ministry confirmed the India's first COVID-19 linked death - a 76-year-old man who had returned from Saudi Arabia last month.
Over 80 cases of COVID-19 infection have been confirmed by the Union Health Ministry so far, including 17 foreigners in isolation in Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. More than 11 lakh people have been screened at airports across the country.
Kerala, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are among the worst-affected states, with 19, 14 and 10 confirmed cases reported so far, according to the Union Health Ministry.
As part of its response, the centre has shut borders to existing visas - except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment and project - till April 15.
The COVID-19 outbreak originated in a food market in China's Wuhan district in December last year and has, so far, killed more than 5,000 people while infecting 100,000 more.
The World Health Organisation has declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic, meaning it has spread worldwide and affected huge number of people.
In a series of tweets, the WHO said it was "deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity (of the virus), and by the alarming levels of inaction".