Several Indian states mull shutdown as coronavirus cases touch 81

Cases of the infection have been reported from at least 11 states and territories, including Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala

New Delhi: Several states across India went into battle mode to contain the spread of COVID-19, shutting down schools, theatres and colleges, and many public events, including the IPL, were postponed as the Union Health ministry on Friday put the number of cases at 81.

The tally of 81, seven more since Thursday night, includes a 76-year-old man from Karnataka who became the country's first coronavirus fatality and 17 foreign nationals, Health Ministry officials said.

Cases of the infection have been reported from at least 11 states and territories, including Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala, where three patients were discharged last month after they recovered.

Addressing reporters, officials said coronavirus a pandemic that has infected 1,31,500 people in 116 countries and territories and killed more than 4,900 is not a health emergency and there is no need to panic.

They said India has evacuated 1,031 people, including from Maldives, US, Madagascar and China.

The Centre has also decided to allow international traffic only through 19 border checkposts out of 37 and continue the suspension of Indo-Bangladesh cross border passenger trains and buses till April 15, or earlier, if so decided.

While states such as Karnataka, Odisha, Delhi and Bihar went into virtual shutdown mode, the under-pressure BCCI suspended the start of this year's IPL cricket tournament from March 29 to April 15.

“The Board of Control for Cricket in India has decided to suspend IPL 2020 till 15th April 2020, as a precautionary measure,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah said in a statement.

The decision came hours after the Delhi government, which on Thursday announced that schools, colleges and cinema halls would be closed till March 31, sad it was also stopping all sports gatherings, including IPL 2020.

Sisodia said district magistrates have been asked to ensure that all directives pertaining to coronavirus are implemented.

A day after the country's first coronavirus death was reported from Kalaburagi in the state, the Karnataka government announced a lock-down of malls, cinema theatres, pubs and night clubs for a week.

Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa also issued instructions to stop all kinds of exhibitions, summer camps, conferences, marriage events and birthday parties.

Tech giant Google confirmed that an employee of its Bengaluru office, who had returned from Greece, was diagnosed with COVID-19.

In Odisha, the Naveen Patnaik government announced that educational institutions would be closed till March 31 but provided an exception for holding exams.

Non-essential official gatherings such as seminars, workshops and conferences are to be cancelled, Patnaik said.

Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi University and Jamia Millia Islamia suspended classes in Delhi. Other universities such as Jindal University in Sonepat in Haryana announced the university would be open but there would be no classes till March 29.

As concern mounted, people scrambled to change their travel plans. At an Air India office in Delhi, for instance, there were crowds of people waiting to change their tickets.

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