India’s financial hub closes shops, Sri Lanka imposes 60-hour curfew

NEW DELHI/COLOMBO/MANILA: All shops and private offices in India’s financial hub Mumbai were ordered to be closed from Friday midnight until March 31 in an effort to contain the spread of the new coronavirus, the local government announced on Friday.
Banks and shops would remain open and staffing at government offices would be curtailed to 25 per cent of staff, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said at a press briefing in state capital Mumbai.
Food and milk outlets and pharmacies would remain open.
Similar restrictions would be in place in regions around Mumbai including the city of Pune.
Maharashtra state has reported the maximum number of Covid-19 cases so far at 52. The number of cases countrywide is now 206, the Union Health Ministry said. Four people have died so far.
“The number of cases in India has progressively increased over the last couple of days. Hundred per cent social distancing is necessary to stop the chain of transmission,” Home Ministry official Lav Agarwal said at a briefing in New Delhi.
State governments have been asked to follow protocols set by the Union Health Ministry and take legal action if people were found not following quarantine protocols.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video conference with chief ministers and top officials of all states to discuss how best to tackle the situation.
Major temples in several parts of India closed doors to devotees from Friday.
The Delhi Metro advised commuters to avoid using the system unless it was essential. Random thermal scanning of passengers would be carried out at all stations and trains would skip crowded stations.
The Delhi government announced the closure of all malls except for shops selling groceries and medicine.
Educational institutions in almost all states have been closed and examinations postponed.

Sri Lanka has announced a nationwide 60-hour curfew from Friday evening to prevent the spread of coronavirus, a police spokesman said.
The curfew comes into force from 6 pm on Friday (1230 GMT) and lasts until Monday at 6 am, Deputy Inspector of Police Ajith Rohana said.
The curfew is being strictly enforced throughout the country and those violating it face arrest and a possible jail term between six months to two years.
Sri Lanka on Wednesday imposed a curfew in the north-western part of the country where a large number of families have their relatives in Italy.
Some 120,000 Sri Lankans work and live in Italy, with most of them engaged in the hotel industry.
After the announcement of the curfew large crowds gathered at supermarkets and pharmacies and queued up at fuel stations.
So far Sri Lanka has reported 65 cases. Twenty-six of them had returned from Italy.
Two foreigners — one of them from India and other from Italy infected with the virus are among the 65 people.

Indonesia has begun rapid coronavirus testing after a spike in positive cases and deaths, President Joko Widodo said.
“Rapid testing is being carried out today for the purpose of contact tracing. Health workers are going door-to-door to carry out tests,” Joko said, adding an area in southern Jakarta was being prioritised.
The Health Ministry said the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases rose to 369 as of Friday, with fatalities at 32.

Social media reports of alleged theft, robbery and attacks on people buying groceries are all fake news, said Philippines national police chief General Archie Gamboa on Friday as he tried to allay fears during the Covid-19 health crisis.
“We warn the public not to post fake news because you are liable under the law,” he said, adding that investigators were already working to track down those behind the posts. “Just wait for us, and we will go to you and arrest you,” he said.
Public fear is rising about crime amid a month-long lockdown on the country’s main island to arrest the spread of the coronavirus. The shutdown has left thousands without work and unable to buy basic supplies.
— dpa

Oman Observer