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16 Mar, 2020 17:32

India closes Taj Mahal, other monuments over coronavirus til end of month

India closes Taj Mahal, other monuments over coronavirus til end of month

India has closed the iconic Taj Mahal and other monuments to visitors, citing the coronavirus epidemic. The cultural sites will remain closed until the end of the month, the Culture Ministry announced.

The ministry declared all 3,691 monuments and sites protected by the Archaeological Survey of India would remain shuttered until March 31 following a high-level Group of Ministers meeting devoted to Covid-19 on Monday.

Closing the historic sites is part of a larger plan agreed upon by the Group of Ministers to ramp up containment measures relating to the coronavirus. The plan includes tightening travel restrictions and shutting down some businesses.

"Important measures including the closing of schools, swimming pools, malls, allow employees to work from home, less use of public transport, one-metre distance between people should be maintained till March 31,” the Joint Secretary of the Union Health Ministry told reporters on Monday.

India has prohibited travel from EU and European Free Trade Association countries, as well as Turkey and the UK as of March 18, while a 14-day compulsory quarantine will take effect for visitors from Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, and United Arab Emirates.

Four new cases of the virus were announced on Monday, bringing the total for India to 114, with two deaths, three patients treated, and 10 discharged.

Some 5,200 people who have had contact with India’s known coronavirus patients are under surveillance, the secretary said.

India officially declared the coronavirus epidemic a “notified disaster” over the weekend, elevating it to the level of earthquakes, avalanches, and other natural disasters and giving local governments access to a special fund earmarked for disaster response.

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