The Siddhivinayak Temple of Mumbai -- a famous shrine to Lord Ganesh -- today closed its doors, emphasising the need to avoid crowded places and break the chain to counter coronavirus.
An official of the temple board, which is operated by the Maharashtra government, said the decision was taken today in view of the situation created by the highly contagious virus. The temple, he said, will remain closed till further notice.
"You know that a lot of people are being affected by coronavirus these days," said Aadesh Bandekar, a trustee of the temple.
"Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has said one must avoid crowded places and discourage the formation of crowds," he said. "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," he added.
The temple's medical health department, he said, would remain functioning to help the patients.
The Siddhivinayak temple is the latest among a string of the country's popular shrines to respond to the threat posed by the highly contagious virus. Over the last weeks, the temples at Maharashtra's Shirdi and Kerala's Sabarimala had asked devotees to postpone their visit for a few weeks.
So far, Maharashtra has registered the maximum cases of coronavirus, the current figure is 39. Overall, 116 people across the country have tested positive for the virus.
The Maharashtra government has invoked the Epidemic Act hoping that it will help contain the virus as well as control panic.
Dr TP Lahane, head of Directorate of Medical Education and Research, said right now, the progression of the virus is at stage 2, which means that it is not spread through communities and hence "it was necessary to invoke the act as a lot of fear mongering is done through social media".