Delhi govt declares coronavirus an epidemic; shuts cinema halls, schools and colleges

New Delhi, Mar 13 (PTI) The Delhi government on Thursday declared coronavirus an epidemic and shut all cinema halls, schools and colleges, except those where exams are on, till March 31.

The 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. The government has declared coronavirus an epidemic,” he said.

Kejriwal said that his government is fully prepared to deal with COVID-19, asserting that more than 500 beds in hospitals are ready to admit coronavirus patients if needed.

In the meeting, measures taken so far to tackle coronavirus were reviewed, Kejriwal said.

“Whatever we are doing is to deal with coronavirus. I hope that all will support us. In the entire world, coronaviurs is rapidly increasing, but in India, we all have so far been able to contain it. If we are cautious, we can save our country from coronavirus,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia also issued an order, saying “All educational institutions — schools, colleges, ITIs, polytechnics, universities and private coaching and tuition centres — will remain closed till March 31, except for holding examinations.”

“The students can be asked to attend the school, college, institutions only to take board exams, term end exams and semester exams,” he added.

After the meeting, Baijal tweeted, “Reviewed preparedness to contain the COVID – 19 in Delhi with Hon’ble CM @ArvindKejriwal, Hon’ble Health Minister @SatyendarJain, CS, Delhi & other officers.Decision taken to close schools, colleges, cinema halls, etc. for sometime to minimise the possibility of spread.”

In another tweet, the LG advised Delhiites to avoid unnecessary travel to crowded areas in the city.

“My advice to all to avoid unnecessary travel to crowded areas. Let’s take all possible preventive measures as far as possible,” he tweeted.

The number of coronavirus patients in the country has risen to 74 with 14 fresh cases, including a foreign national. The national capital has so far recorded six cases of coronavirus.

According to a statement issued by Baijal’s office, the lieutenant governor directed municipal bodies, DUSIB, deputy commissioners of 11 districts to set up quarantine facilities.

“The LG further directed health department to ensure immediate steps to augment facilitation of sample testing, quarantine & tertiary care at designated hospitals. He directed all concerned to have extensive training and capacity building for staff to fight against the threat of deadly novel coronavirus,” the statement stated.

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