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Coronavirus scare hits normal life in Pune: Residents tense, some schools shut, rumours rife

As people searched social media and other means of communication on Wednesday for any news on the growing number of cases, some of them also fell victim to rumours on the same.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: March 11, 2020 9:52:57 pm
coronavirus, pune coronavirus, coronavirus cases in pune, pune news, indian express Five patients have tested positive for coronavirus in Pune so far. (Express photo)

With five patients testing positive for coronavirus in Pune so far, there is palpable nervousness among local residents, and a tense atmosphere in the city. As people searched social media and other means of communication on Wednesday for any news on the growing number of cases, some of them also fell victim to rumours on the same. Meanwhile, district authorities have issued instructions to avoid mass gatherings and several events got cancelled across the city as a precautionary measure.

Events cancelled to keep crowds at bay

Many popular events in the city have been either called off or put on hold due to the virus scare. Vivek Desai, one of the organisers of Pune Comedy Fest 4.0, said the event has been postponed until May due to the advisory on mass gatherings. Details of the new date and line-up of comedians would be posted later by organisers.

Another event, Tapped Craft Beer Festival at the Balkrishna Lawns, which was expected to be attended by hundreds of people, was also called off.

Posting on Facebook, the team said, “In light of the growing concerns around Covid-19, team Tapped has made the conscious decision to cancel the event on March 15 in Pune to protect the health and well-being of our fellow patrons.”
At SCC Republic, an open air theatre in Koregaon Park, manager Jayesh Pindoria said the events scheduled in the coming two weeks have been cancelled.

IT companies affected

On Wednesday, two IT companies in Magarpatta and Hinjewadi respectively were evacuated after two employees showed suspected symptoms of the infection.  The Hinjewadi Industries Association has also send out a mailer to its members, asking them to take necessary precautions in regards. At the Rajiv Gandhi Technology Park, many employees of IT firms were seen wearing masks

Rumours rife

Meanwhile, rumours were rife on social media. From information on schools and colleges being shut en masse to fake news on shutdown of companies, rumours kept people on tenterhooks. The situation became such that the administration of Savitribai Phule Pune University issued a clarification on Wednesday morning, stating that colleges have not been issued any instructions to give leave to students.
Registrar Prafulla Pawar, who issued the clarification, stated that rumours regarding coronavirus were rife on social media and some messages claimed that all affiliated colleges under SPPU have been asked to declare a holiday between March 20 and 30. “The message is false. We have not issued any such instructions to colleges. Someone has done it mischievously,” stated the clarification.

Schools not to shut as of now

Meanwhile, even as a few city schools announced that they would remain shut until Saturday, parents’ groups across the city discussed the same and some even demanded that other schools should also follow suit.  Maharashtra Education Commissioner Vishal Solanki said he had spoken to state Education minister Varsha Gaikwad and recommended strong preventive measures, including shutting down schools for a while if need be. While the state Education minister earlier tweeted that a review would be done on the same, Solanki later confirmed that a decision has been taken to continue keeping schools open for now, albeit with caution and awareness among students.

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