Authorities in the western state, which is India’s hardest-hit region, are stepping up efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus as the number of confirmed cases was put at 39 – a quarter of India’s total of 126. The state government said such measures are taken as a precaution and to deter patients and suspected patients of venturing out into public. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray told reporters: “It is not a crime if somebody is infected by Covid-19.
“They must be given proper medical treatment and psychological support.
“Those who require self-quarantine but don’t want to stay in hospital or hotels and want to go home, they should have a sense of responsibility.
“They should not roam around freely.
“They should follow quarantine strictly.”
Maharashtra is home to Mumbai, India’s largest city.
A patient there died after contracting the virus on Tuesday, Praveen Pardeshi, who heads Mumbai’s civic body, told Reuters.
It was the third death from coronavirus in India.
Along with the Taj Mahal, dozens of other monuments and museums including the Ajanta and Ellora caves and religious sites such as Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak Temple were closed.
The curbs in Mumbai come just days after the city shut down schools, cinemas, malls and gyms, and also banned mass gatherings.
The metropolis of 18 million people also authorised hospital and airport authorities to stamp wrists of those ordered to self-isolate with indelible ink reading “Home Quarantined” and displaying the date the quarantine ends.
There have been concerns that over-stretched health systems in India and the rest of the region could struggle to handle a surge in cases.
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New Delhi has already taken measures including suspending most visas into the country.
Indian health authorities are analysing data from more than 1,000 patients who had not travelled to coronavirus-affected regions or known to have come in contact with confirmed cases, to determine whether the disease has begun spreading through the country, a senior official from the Indian Council of Medical Research said.
“That will tell us whether it has already reached in-community, or we are still in the earlier stage where the disease is limited to the traveller and close contacts,” the official told Reuters.
India expanded its travel restrictions on Monday, banning passengers from countries of the European Union and European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the United Kingdom – including its own citizens.
Neighbouring Sri Lanka said it would suspend all international flights for two weeks beginning Wednesday.
Indian airline GoAir suspended all international operations and asked some of its employees to take unpaid leave.
Meanwhile Pakistan reported the number of confirmed cases had more than doubled for a second consecutive day, reaching 195.
Officials said the jump was largely due to errors in testing and quarantine of travellers who recently returned from Iran through a border crossing in Balochistan province.
“If the arrangements were better we could have saved these people from the virus,” said Saeed Ghani, a minister in the provincial Sindh government where many of the cases were detected.
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