India begins shutdowns in Mumbai to limit spread of H1N1 swine flu virus

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Authorities in India have started shutting down cinemas, schools, and colleges in the city of Mumbai to limit the spread of the H1N1 virus, more commonly known as swine flu. Schools and colleges will close for one week, while cinemas will only remain closed for three days. India has had nineteen deaths so far relating to the virus. Authorities say that the shutdown is due to public pressure, but stresses that people should not panic.

Ashok Chavan, the Maharashtra Chief Minister said it was only a “prevention method”. He told the television channel CNN-IBN that "There is no panic [...] we are going according to the wishes of the people and that is why we are shutting down for about seven days." Passenger screenings have also been introduced into 22 of the country's main airports.

The shutdown has affected several Bollywood film releases that have been delayed as the cinemas are closed. Schools that are not shutting down are preparing to screen students for the virus.

Indian Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said that swine flu is only one of the health threats affecting India at the moment. "It is not the only virus we have in our country. We have much more fatal diseases, much more costly diseases," he said.

Swine flu has caused 141 deaths world wide and has affected at least 74 countries. The virus was first discovered in Mexico in April.