Delhi shuts schools, colleges, cinemas as coronavirus cases reach 74 nationwide

Cinema halls in the Capital are waiting for an official government directive before shutting shop in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced in a tweet that all movie theatres would remain shut in the city till March 31; on March 12, 2020. (Photo: IANS)

New Delhi: The coronavirus cases in India rose to 74 on Thursday after 14 fresh cases were reported from several States, including nine from Maharashtra, Union Health Ministry said, as the Delhi government declared COVID-19 an epidemic and announced shutting down of schools, colleges and cinema halls till March 31.

The Delhi government also made it compulsory to disinfect all public places, including government and private offices and shopping malls, every day in the national capital. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting attended by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, LG Anil Baijal and top government officials. Talking to reporters after the meeting, the Chief Minister said his government was making arrangements for quarantine facilities at vacant flats owned by Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) and under-construction hospitals. “All cinema halls will remain shut till March 31. Also, all schools and colleges, except those where exams are being held, will remain shut till March 31 due to coronavirus,” he said.

As the Centre and the States ramped up their efforts to tackle novel coronavirus, which has claimed at least 4,600 lives globally and affected nearly 125,293, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked the countrymen not to panic and asserted that the government was fully vigilant. Apart from directing the Union Ministers not to travel abroad in the upcoming days, Modi also urged people to avoid non-essential travel, saying, “we can break the chain of spread and ensure safety of all by avoiding large gatherings.” The government said three planes would be sent in the next three days to bring back Indians stranded in Iran, one of the worst coronavirus-hit country.

The Union Health Ministry said no community transmission of the virus was observed and there had only been cases of local transmission so far. The total number of 74 patients in India includes 16 Italians and one Canadian. Giving a State-wise breakup, the Ministry said Delhi reported six positive cases, Uttar Pradesh 10, Karnataka four, Maharashtra 11 and Ladakh three. Rajasthan, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab have reported one case each. Kerala has recorded 17 cases, including three patients who were discharged last month. Lav Aggarwal, the Joint Secretary in the Ministry, said 1,500 people who came in contact with these 74 infected people were under rigorous observation, while over 30,000 people across the country were under community surveillance. PTI

Corona casts shadow on IPL

Hyderabad: With each passing day of the novel coronavirus spreading its tentacles, there is a likelihood of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) either being played in closed doors or cancelled this year. Surely, there is a cloud of uncertainty over the IPL schedule with the opening match between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings scheduled to be held in Mumbai on March 29.

With big tournaments such as NBA, La Liga, Serie A football are either being suspended or cancelled or played closed doors, all eyes will be on BCCI and IPL organisers on what decision they will take on when they meet on Saturday. The Minister of External Affairs has already advised not to hold the meet, while the Sports Ministry made it very clear to the BCCI along with other national federations that any event that has to be held amid the coronavirus outbreak will have to be behind closed doors. The directive is set to ensure that the remaining two ODIs between India and South Africa in Lucknow and Kolkata, the Indian Super League football tournament final in Goa, and the last day of the Ranji Trophy summit clash in Rajkot are played in front of empty stadiums.

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