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As the number of coronavirus positive patients surged to 39, the Maharashtra government has taken a slew of decision including 100 quarantine of passengers arriving from Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the US in addition to existing seven countries, closure of all schools and colleges in rural areas, postponement of examinations of all schools and colleges until March 31, allocation of Rs 45 crore as first instalment to six revenue divisional commissioners for anti-coronavirus measures and no permission for any religious and political event.

The government decisions were announced by the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray after marathon meeting with the district collectors and divisional commissioners, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and railways. Of the 39, 16 are in Pune district, Mumbai (6), Nagpur (4), Yavatmal (3), Kalyan (3), Navi Mumbai (3) and Raigad, Thane, Ahmednagar and Aurangabad one each.

Star Hotels for home quarantine

The government has adopted a novel way to provide relief to the coronavirus suspects or patients who want to live in self isolation. BMC, which has occupied Seven Hill Hospital currently having 500 beds & more up to 500 beds will be available after some civil work, is currently in talks with star hotels in the vicinity of airport to acquire about 2,500 rooms at the negotiated rates. The objective is to turn these hotel rooms into quarantine facility for travellers coming from abroad and choosing to pay for it. After 24 hours, guests will be asked to be home quarantined.

BMC Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi said that the civic body is negotiating with hotels to release rooms which can be provided to travellers at the negotiated tariff for home quarantine.

BMC has activated Mirage Hotel near airport to turn into quarantine facility.

BMC's move is crucial as the state government has decided that passengers arriving from Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the US will be 100% quarantined. This is in addition to China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain and Germany. The passengers coming of these countries can occupy rooms made available by BMC in the star hotels adjacent to the international airport.

Elections to be deferred

Thackeray said the government in a communication has urged the State Election Commission to postpone elections to over 1,580 gram panchayat, municipal council, municipality and Navi Mumbai and Aurangabad municipal corporations be deferred for at least three months. This is to avoid gathering and congregation of people especially during public rallies.

Thackeray said next 15 to 20 days are crucial and asked the citizens to strictly follow self-discipline, avoid unnecessary travels and gatherings. He said the government has not yet decided to shut down or lock down and also the discontinuation of railway and buses services especially in Mumbai.

The government has directed the district administration not to grant permission for religious functions and political events.

Marking home quarantine patients

Minister of Public Health Rajesh Tope said the government has decided that marking will be made on left hand of those who are advised 100 per cent home quarantine. This will be similar to the indelible ink which is applied on the index finger proves that one has exercised their democratic rights and voted. ''This will help easily identify the concerned person,'' he noted.

Tope said that the coronavirus suspects or those detected positive are not criminals and therefore the government has urged the citizens to lend them mental and moral support in addition to medicines. ''The district administration has been directed not to be excessive in the implementation of Epidemic Act 1897 which empowers them for wide ranging powers to take action for curbing coronavirus outbreak. Thee should discharge their power from the humanitarian point of view,'' he noted.

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