Mumbai, March 6 (IANS) Despite looming threats from various quarters, Maharashtra remains untouched by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak so far, though the state is fully prepared to contain the spread of the virus, said a top health officer here on Friday.

“We have screened over 70,000 passengers at the Mumbai airport. Of these, 474 from the state displayed symptoms and 187 samples have proved negative so far,” State Surveillance Officer (Dr) Pradip Awate told IANS.

Awate said that although the state is out of the coronavirus grip till now, rumours of patients from different parts of the state keep floating in media and social networks, besides misinformation of medicines offering alleged cures which has created unnecessary panic.

Earlier, Health Minister Rajesh Tope assured that the state is fully aware of and prepared to tackle any emergency arising out of COVID-19 of which there is not a single positive case till date.

“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 informed 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 the state capital 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 rumour-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.

Tope said that it is not required for people in the state to wear masks but only clean, dry handkerchiefs would suffice.

Till date, as many as 70,000-plus passengers arriving in the state capital via international flights have undergone thermal scanning and of the 474 passengers who arrived from the coronavirus affected countries, 152 were admitted to different hospitals and tested twice.

The lab reports of 187 were found negative and rest have been discharged while 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 the Mumbai Port as per the Centre’s health protocols, but none have tested positive.

Meanwhile, several public and private Holi celebrations in Mumbai and other cities, at beach resorts like Raigad, Ratnagiri, Palghar, Sindhudurg, atAhill-stations like Mahabaleshwar, Panchgani, Matheran, Lonavala, Khandala, Igatpuri, Chikhaldhara, Bhandardhara have been cancelled as a precaution in the wake of the emerging situation vis-a-vis what is termed as the biggest global public health emergency in a decade.

–IANS

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