On Friday, CM Uddhav Thackeray took the decision to shut down all gyms, swimming pools and drama and cinema theatres starting from midnight on March 13 and the ban will continue till March 30, 2020.
Gyms and other such institutions will be closed in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Pimpri Chincwad and Nagpur.
Gyms are considered ‘high risk’ locations due to sweat and dampness to heighten the spreading of germs.
An assistant professor of epidemiology at Brown University, Dr Angela Bengtson told WPRI: “I would say that the time for social distancing is now. I would strongly encourage people to consider staying home and to not visit their gym if it’s a crowded location, particularly for people who are over the age of 50 or have underlying health conditions, such as respiratory issues. It’s important to not put yourself at risk of contracting the virus.”
She added: “For people who are younger and healthier, social distancing is equally as important. Staying home helps to protect you from contracting the virus and then spreading it to others, who might not fair as well if they get infected. I think the message is clear that we need to do all we can to stop the spread of this disease right now.”
A UK immunologist, Dr Jenna Macciochi echoed similar sentiments and said that one should be extra vigilant in any area where people are closed together, and ‘sharing equipment increases transmission of infection’.
Another expert, Dr Norman Swan told ABC that dampness is a bad thing for spreading germs. He said: “Dampness is a bad thing for spreading germs. You've got these big blokes pumping away and you never know, one of them might be a super spreader.”
He noted that while COVID-19 can’t spread through sweat, it could occur if someone coughs and leaves their droplets on the gym equipment.
Dr John Zurlo of Jefferson Health also cautioned against working out at the gym pointing out that if you touch a surface someone has sneezed and then rub your eyes, the virus could spread.
He told SCMP: “Our nose, mouth, and eyes have mucus membranes, and this is where respiratory infections like the coronavirus and the flu enter into the body.”
The Maharashtra Government on Friday invoked the Epidemic Act which empowers the state to forcibly admit a person with coronavirus symptoms to a hospital wherein tests are required.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday also announced the closure of schools for students belonging to Class 1 to Class 9 in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Schools in Mumbai will remain operational.
The Chief Minister said that these schools would remain closed until further notice.
Exams for 10th and 12th standard students however will continue as normal.
The number of coronavirus cases in the state has now risen to 17. This includes 10 people in Pune, three in Nagpur, three in Mumbai and one person in Thane.