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COVID-19: Navi Mumbai heads for partial lockdown as Maharashtra cases reach 63

MUMBAI: Commercial establishments, corporate firms and manufacturing units in neighbouring Navi Mumbai will remain closed till further orders to promote social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, an official said.

Data centres, IT service providers will operate with only 10 per cent staff, while banks, insurance companies and internet service providers will function with essential staff only, he said.

The order, issued by the Navi Mumbai municipal commissioner, will cause the city to shut down partially.

As per the order, production and manufacturing units that function continuously may operate with 25 per cent of their total manpower.

Meanwhile, the movement of vehicles near-isolation centres and quarantine facilities such as the NMMC General Hospital and a centre at sector 14 in Vashi has been restricted, the official said.

Spitting in public spaces will attract a fine of Rs 250, he said, adding that people found violating the containment measures will be booked under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code and Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Saturday said the state has witnessed a “big rise” in the number of coronavirus positive patients with the addition of 11 such cases, and appealed to the people to avoid using public transport to contain the spread.

Talking to reporters, Tope said the number of coronavirus positive patients in the state has increased to 63 with 11 new cases.

“Of the 11, eight have travel history abroad and three came in contact with the affected persons,” he said, adding that 10 cases are in Mumbai, while one is in Pune.

“A rise from 52 to 63 is big,” he said.

Of the total number of patients, 13 to 14 patients are those who came in contact with the positive patients.

“Rest all are import cases,” he said.

“The spread has been largely because of people who came from outside,’ he said.

“I appeal to the people not to venture out. They should exercise self-discipline by maintaining social distancing and hygiene,” he said.

“If there is no reduction in crowd in public transport, a shutdown will have to be put in place. There is also an option of allowing people in public transport after checking their I-cards,” he said.

The suburban trains in Mumbai will function for essential activities, he added.

Tope said that the rise in the number of patients is a major cause of concern and people’s cooperation is needed to fight out the outbreak.

“If people don’t listen and continue to use public transport unnecessarily, we may have to think otherwise,” he said, adding that we are in Phase-2 and heading towards Phase-3.

Tope said the WHO and the Centre’s guidelines say that virus survives in cool places or a longer time.

“So, not just the government offices, but people should also follow the guidelines of not using air conditioning systems,” he said.

He also said that the rush of the working class at the railway stations to head back to their home state is something to worry about.

“We have asked for increasing the number of outstation trains, so that those who want to go back to their native places, can do so.

This will reduce crowding at railway stations in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and Pune,” the minister said.

Tope said the government was closely monitoring the crowding in local trains after all offices and shops have been asked to shut down.

“We are in observation and appeal mode as of now. Even the Centre feels that the public transport in Mumbai needs to be shut down. This was conveyed to (Sharad) Pawar saheb by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan,” he said.