COVID-19: Goa shuts education institutes, public places

Educational institutes, casinos, pubs, multiplexes to remain closed in Goa amid virus scare

Empty spectators enclosures are pictured amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, before the start of the final match between Chennaiyin FC and ATK FC at the Indian Super League (ISL) football tournament, in Goa. (AFP photo)

The Goa government on Saturday announced closure of educational institutes and public places including casinos, swimming pools, pubs and multiplexes in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in the country till March 31.

The order will come into force from Sunday (March 15) midnight.

No confirmed coronavirus case has been found in the coastal state, a tourist haven, as yet.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday chaired a high-level meeting which was attended by health minister Vishwajit Rane and officials.

After the meeting, Sawant announced a slew of preventive measures.

Schools and other educational establishments will be closed till March 31, while the examinations of the Goa Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education for std 10th and 12th will take place as per the schedule, he said.

Public swimming pools, cinema halls and casinos would be closed. The order will be reviewed at the end of this month, the CM added.

While the state does not have a single confirmed case of coronavirus, one suspected patient remains quarantined at the Goa Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) and some 30 others are in home isolation.

On Friday, health minister Rane had informed that his department had invoked the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1987, which empowers the government to ban mass gatherings.

Chief Minister Sawant, meanwhile, said the March 22 Zilla Panchayat elections in the state will go ahead as per the schedule, but candidates should avoid mass gatherings and indoor meetings.

The coronavirus outbreak and resultant closure of public places will have a huge impact on the tourism industry but the preventive measures are unavoidable, he said.

Among other steps, thermal guns at Goa airport would be replaced with a thermal scanner and all international and domestic passengers will be screened through the scanner to spot possible carriers of the virus, Sawant said.

Thermal scanners would also be installed at Mormugao Port Trust and the railway station. The port has already banned arrival of cruise ships till March 31.

As wedding season is underway, Sawant adviced people to avoid huge gatherings.

In the evening, an order issued by state Health Director Jose A O D'Sa said gymnasiums, cinema theatres, public swimming pools (both stand-alone and the ones at hotels and resorts), casinos, spa and massage parlours, river cruises, night clubs and multiplexes should remain closed till March 31.

The order will come into force from the intervening night of March 15-16, it said.

The health department also asked people not to take part in or organise mass gatherings, functions, events and festivals during this period.

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