The Telangana government may close the borders with Maharashtra if the contagion of new coronavirus continues unabated in the neighbouring state.
"It is worrisome that coronavirus cases are rising very rapidly in neighboring Maharashtra. We will watch the situation for a few more days and if the situation warrants, our government will close the borders after discussing with the Maharashtra government," Telangana chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao said on Saturday.
The chief minister explained as to why this drastic step would be necessary for protecting Telangana from the spread of possible contagion.
Telangana and Maharashtra share a 500-km interstate boundary and people living in border districts such as Nizamabad and Adilabad have close family ties with those on the other side, necessitating routine travel and family visits across the dividing line. This entails a huge risk of the virus entering Telangana from the north.
With as many as 19 confirmed coronavirus cases, Telangana this week joined the top six states with the highest tally in the country. While most of those cases were of patients with immediate travel history, one was suspected to have emanated from a local spread on Saturday.
The state government is worried that it will have to open a second front to battle coronavirus if the rapid rise in cases in Maharashtra start having a spillover effect on the border.
While supporting the Prime Minister's Janata curfew call, Rao appealed to the people of Telangana to stay indoors from Sunday morning 6 a.m. to Monday morning 6 a.m. in order to contain the possible spread of coronavirus. "This is not a big deal. You need to stay indoors for the sake of our state and our country," Chandrasekhara Rao told people in a media briefing this afternoon.
The chief minister has asked all shops to down shutters for a day, barring essential services and the media. He also declared that his government would not hesitate to go for a complete lock down if the situation so required.
According to the government, some 5,000 people, most of them with travel history, had been quarantined in various parts of Hyderabad and over 50,000 people had been screened for symptoms.