Mumbai: Even as the State government added Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the US to the list of countries from where all passengers arriving by flight will compulsorily quarantined for 14 days, the BMC was engaged in talks with star hotels in the vicinity of the international airport to acquire about 2,500 rooms at negotiated rates, to turn them into quarantine facilities for visitors from abroad.
Sources said the BMC has asked these hotels to set aside rooms at half the usual room tariff, so that incoming passengers can opt to pay and stay in them, even after an initial compulsory quarantine of 24 hours.
State tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray tweeted: "Thank you Mirage Hotel, Mumbai, and ITC hotel, Mumbai, for opening up your doors to incoming travellers who will be compulsorily isolated for 24 hours on arrival, as requested by BMC.”
The initiative came even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the State mounted to 39 with six new cases being detected on Monday.
Among the new cases were a three-year-old girl from Kalyan and her 33-year old mother. Two Navi Mumbai residents, close contacts of each other, who landed in Mumbai from Philippines on March 2, have also tested positive. So did a Mumbai resident, a 44-year-old woman, who returned to the city from Lisbon.
A ‘high-risk’ relative of the woman has been quarantined at Kasturba Hospital, while two ‘low-risk’ contacts have been kept under 14-day surveillance at home.
A woman in Yavatmal, who was part of a nine-member group that returned from Dubai on March 1, also tested positive for coronavirus. With the work week resuming on Monday, it was evident that many Mumbaikars had decided to avoid non-essential travel and had opted for social distancing.
There was significantly lesser traffic on the city’s roads during peak hours. There were also smaller crowds at the usually packed railway stations.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the state government has no plans to enforce a lockdown of any city or discontinuation of rail and bus services, but asked people to avoid thronging temples, mosques, churches and other public spaces.
The next 15 to 20 days are crucial for the state as far as containment of the contagion is concerned and people should be extra vigilant, he said. The government has directed the district administration not to grant permission for religious functions and political events. Besides the isolation ward at civic-run Kasturba Hospital, the BMC has also set up a quarantine facility at Seven Hills Hospital in Marol.
The state government has added Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the US to the list of countries from where all passengers arriving by flight will compulsorily be quarantined for 14 days. This is in addition to China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, France, Spain and Germany.
PUBS SHUT: The state government also said all pubs and discotheques will be shut till further orders. All tiger parks, national parks and sanctuaries in the state have also been shut.
The government decisions were announced by the Chief Minister after a marathon meeting with the district collectors and divisional commissioners, the BMC and the railways.
Six revenue divisional commissioners have been allocated Rs 45 crore as a first instalment to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Thackeray said the government has urged the State Election Commission to postpone elections to over 1,580 gram panchayats, municipal councils, and Navi Mumbai and Aurangabad municipal corporations by at least three months. This is to avoid gathering and congregation of people, especially during public rallies.