Coronavirus: Use clean hankies, not masks, says Maha govt

Mumbai, March 4 (IANS) Amid a compounding threat of Covid-19, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday advised people to use clean handkerchiefs instead of face masks while assuring all that all necessary preparations were in place for any situation.

Health Minister Rajesh Tope told the Maharashtra Legislature that the state is fully geared to tackle any crisis arising out of coronavirus, and there has not been a single positive case reported in the state so far.

“There is no need for any panic. Worldwide, the incidence of deaths is around 2.5-3 per cent of those who are infected,” he told the Assembly during a short discussion on the subject.

Tope added that the government is taking all possible measures including setting up quarantine/isolation wards with 10 beds in five hospitals in Mumbai and the authorities are in constant touch with the Central government on the issue.

These include Kasturba, Rajawadi, Kurla, Bandra and Jogeshwari civic-run hospitals in Mumbai and 10-bed quarantine wards at all district hospitals.

Referring to rumor-mongers, Tope said that the state government will ask the Cyber Crime Cell to investigate cases of such elements indulging in spreading misinformation and creating fear among the masses and they will be dealt with strictly.

His statements came against the backdrop of non-availability of masks and allegations of hoarding which has led to spiralling of the masks in some cities where the N-95 masks are sold for as high as Rs 250-300 a piece.

Till date, as many as 65,121 passengers arriving in Mumbai by 555 flights have undergone thermal scanning and of the 401 passengers who arrived from the coronavirus affected countries, 152 were admitted to different hospitals and tested twice.

The lab reports of 149 were found negative and 143 have been discharged while the remaining six are under observation – one each in Naidu and Mangeshkar hospitals in Pune, and two each at Kasturba and Hinduja Hospitals in Mumbai.

Besides, 676 people arriving here by 30 ships are also undergoing thermal scanning at Mumbai Port and none have tested positive, as per the Centre’s protocol.

Leader of Opposition in Assembly Devendra Fadnavis and Leader of Opposition in Council Pravin Darekar said that both the Centre and state have initiated necessary measures to tackle the crises with adequate responses in place.

Meanwhile, several public and private Holi celebrations in Mumbai and other cities have been cancelled in the wake of the emerging situation vis-a-vis what is termed as the biggest public health emergency in a decade.



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