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No coronavirus in Maharashtra, no cause for panic

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Mumbai, Mar 06: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said no case of coronavirus infection has been found in the state and there was no cause for panic, but caution was necessary for the next eight to ten days.

Addressing a press conference here, he also said people should refrain from visiting crowded places.

Maharastra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray

"Extra precaution is needed to be taken during the next eight to ten days....People should celebrate the Holi festival in a restrained way," he said.

The medical staff at the airports will be increased for conducting thermal screening of all the passengers arriving from other countries, Thackeray said.

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Thermal checking is being carried out at Nagpur and Pune airports in the state too, he said.

Mumbai municipal commissioner Pravin Pardeshi, also present at the press conference, said additional quarantine beds have been kept ready at private hospitals in the city.

Pardeshi also stated that people need not wear face masks, which the medical staff who are treating suspected coronavirus patients need.

Some 18,000 passengers arrive at the international airport in Mumbai every day, the commissioner said.

So far about 70,000 passengers have undergone thermal checking and 90 of them showed symptoms of the disease. But 83 of these patients eventually tested negative for the virus while the lab reports of seven people were awaited, Pardeshi added.

Earlier, making a statement in the Legislative Assembly, chief minister Thackeray said his government was taking all necessary steps for the prevention of the "coronavirus epidemic".

"I want to tell people that the next eight days are crucial and we have to remain cautious," he told the House.

"We need to tackle the crisis effectively without getting scared and panicky," he said. "If we get scared, we may end up committing avoidable mistakes," he added.

Adequate testing facilities were in place in Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune, the chief minister said.

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    "There is enough stock of masks. We need to see if the vacant Seven Hills Hospital in Mumbai can be used for quarantine facilities," he added.

    He had instructed authorities to provide masks and required clothing to the cleaning staff of international flights at the airports in the state, Thackeray informed.

    Hotel managements have also been instructed to check if foreign tourists checking into their hotels have undergone thermal screening, he said.

    "I have instructed the Information and Publicity department to issue advertisements for mass awareness at railway and bus stations regarding precautions to be taken," he said.

    Noting that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had decided not to celebrate Holi in view of the virus epidemic this year, Thackeray said, "When there was an outbreak of swine flu, the dahi-handi celebrations were cancelled (in Maharashtra). I pray that the coronavirus epidemic gets burnt in the Holi fire," he said.

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