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India closes Taj Mahal amid coronavirus fears

New Delhi

India closed the Taj Mahal, its principal tourist site, and the financial hub of Mumbai ordered offices providing non-essential services to keep half their staff at home in ramped up measures to curb the coronavirus in South Asia.

Mumbai, a densely populated metropolis of 18 million people, also authorised hospital and airport authorities to stamp wrists of those ordered to self-isolate with indelible ink reading “Home Quarantined” and displaying the date the quarantine ends.

The moves, announced late on Monday, come just days after the city shut down schools, cinemas, malls and gyms, and also banned mass gatherings.

India’s western state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, has been the hardest hit with 39 confirmed coronavirus cases, or roughly a quarter of the 126 cases in the country.

A patient in the state died after contracting the virus on Tuesday, Praveen Pardeshi, who heads Mumbai’s civic body, told Reuters: the third death in India.

Along with the Taj Mahal, dozens of other monuments and museums including the Ajanta and Ellora caves and religious sites such as Mumbai’s Siddhivinayak temple were closed.

India expanded its travel restrictions on Monday, banning passengers from countries of the European Union and European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

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