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No Public Gatherings to be Allowed in Maharashtra Over Coronavirus Fears

A woman walks inside the premises of a hospital where a special ward has been set up for the coronavirus disease in Mumbai. (Reuters)

A woman walks inside the premises of a hospital where a special ward has been set up for the coronavirus disease in Mumbai. (Reuters)

To prevent spread of the virus, district collectors and commissioners have been instructed not to allow public gatherings, nor should there be any official programmes.

Mumbai: No permission will be granted for public gatherings in the state in view of the coronavirus threat, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Thursday evening.

With one more person testing positive for the disease in Pune earlier in the day, the number of confirmed coronavirus patients in the state increased to 12 -- nine in Pune, two in Mumbai and one in Nagpur.

"All passengers from seven countries will be quarantined (whether they have symptoms of the disease or

not)," the minister told reporters here.

Officials had said earlier that passengers with travel history to China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after February 15 will be kept under quarantine by default.

Tope said all the 12 confirmed patients in the state were stable and "asymptomatic", which meant they did not show any severe symptoms of the disease.

To prevent spread of the virus, district collectors and commissioners have been instructed not to allow public gatherings, nor should there be any official programmes, the minister said.

Even political or religious gatherings should not be allowed, the collectors have been told, Tope said.

Of the 12 persons in the state who have contracted the coronavirus, ten were part of a group of tourists which visited a foreign location (Dubai), he pointed out.

Tour operators are being discouraged from organising new foreign tours, and those who are currently abroad should be kept under observation upon return, the minister said.

District collectors have been told that there should be self-isolation for those who arrive from foreign countries, he said.

Laboratories have been asked to conduct tests for the coronavirus for only those who have traveled to affected countries or come in contact with coronavirus patients, the minister said.

As to giving holiday to school students, Tope said as of now schools will not be closed. "Even though there is a demand, we are observing the situation, and if necessary the decision to close schools will be taken," he added.

As to the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket tournament, due to start in Mumbai by month-end, he said, "There was discussion in the cabinet... tickets will (likely) not be sold. They (organisers) have two options, either postpone or hold matches without spectators."

He appealed people not to use masks unnecessarily, saying it may lead to a different sort of hazard if masks are not disposed of properly after use.

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