MUMBAI/NAGPUR: Two persons from Mumbai and another from Nagpur on Wednesday tested positive for coronavirus, taking the number of such cases in Maharashtra to 11, officials said.
Addressing a press conference in the evening, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said two positive cases from Mumbai and eight from Pune have been reported till now.
In a late night development, a Nagpur-based man tested positive for coronavirus infection.
With the disease casting its shadow, the ongoing budget session of the state legislature is being curtailed.
Addressing a press conference at Vidhan Bhawan here, Thackeray said there are eight coronavirus (COVID-19) positive cases in Pune and two in Mumbai.
All ten were part of a 40-member group which recently visited a foreign country as tourists, he said.
In Nagpur, a 45-year-old man tested positive for novel coronavirus. He had returned to Nagpur from the US on March 6, officials said.
He has been admitted to the Nagpur-based India Gandhi Government Medical College and Hospital (IGGMCH), they said.
The chief minister indicated that the ongoing budget session of the legislature, scheduled till March 20, will be curtailed and it is likely to conclude over the weekend after completion of pending business.
Thackeray said the decision is being taken to prevent strain on the administration and allow legislators to visit their constituencies and be on the field.
"These people (who tested positive for COVID-19) do not have serious symptoms. There is no need to panic due to this," Thackeray said.
"All ten people (in Pune and Mumbai) are undergoing treatment and are under observation. There is no need to panic. All of them had mild symptoms and not serious," he said.
He said the decision to curtail the session was taken at a meeting attended by presiding officers of both houses and leaders of opposition in the assembly and council.
"The ongoing budget session will end either on Saturday or Sunday after completing the scheduled business," the chief minister said.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said the issue of curtailing the legislature session will be discussed in both houses on Thursday.
"Legislature is final authority. We need to pass the budget, appropriation bill first," Pawar said.
Pawar made it clear that the session is being curtailed not out of fear of the coronavirus but to prevent strain on the administration.
"To brief the cabinet on the issues listed on the question hour or calling attention notices, officials have to travel to Mumbai from different parts of the state.
"Even legislators need to go back to their constituencies and create awarenessso that we can defeat the virus which is on our doorstep. There is no need to panic," Pawar said.
Pawar said to prevent crowding in the state legislature complex only ministers and legislators will be allowed inside.
Thackeray said there was a suggestion from the Pune administration that schools be closed.
"We feel there is no need now (for this step). But if needed, a decision will be taken," he said.
"There are 850 to 1,000 people from the state who are currently abroad as tourists. Tour operators have been asked to get in touch with the administration once they land in Mumbai," Pawar said.
Asked about the IPL, which is slated to start on March 29, Thackeray said there is a proposal to hold the cash-rich T20 tournament without stadium audience or postpone it.
"The government is yet to take a decision. There should be no crowd at any cost," he said.
"We appeal that religious events in rural parts of the state be postponed. I have spoken to Union health minister Harsh Vardhan for permission to start additional labs other than the ones in Pune, Mumbai and Nagpur (to test samples)," Thackeray said.
Meanwhile, a statement by the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) of the Public Health Department, Maharashtra said an "aggressive contact tracing activity" is in progress on a war footing after two Dubai returnees from Pune were found positive for positive coronavirus two days ago.
"Till Wednesday, 1,38,968 travellers from 1,195 flights have been screened at Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur international airports. As per the new guidelines from central government, travelers coming from all countries are being screened at international airports," it said.
"From January 18 till date 349 symptomatic travellers have been isolated in identified isolation facilities. At present 18 travellers are still in hospital at Pune, while 15 at Mumbai," it said.
Suspected cases have also been isolated at Nagpur and Pimpri Chinchwad, the statement said.
"All international travellers are being screened at airports and all symptomatic travelers are referred to identified isolation wards. Asymptomatic travellers coming from 12 countries are being referred to IDSP for regular follow-up for 14 days," it said.
Apart from Mumbai, Pune and Thane, travellers are also being monitored in Gadchiroli, Nanded, Buldhana, Yavatmal, Nagpur, Wardha, Sangli, Ahmednagar, Amaravati, Palghar, Jalgaon, Chandrapur and Satara districts, it said.