KG, primary schools closed in TN till March 31;Theatres, malls

too shut in border districts (Eds: adding more details of Palaniswami's statement) Chennai, Mar 15 (PTI) The Tamil Nadu government on Sunday directed closure of all kindergarten and primary schools till March 31 as it stepped up preventive measures against coronavirus.

Chief Minister K Palaniswami also issued orders for closure of cinema halls and malls where people gather in large numbers till the month end in taluks in 16 districts bordering neighbouring Kerala and Karnataka, where the number of COVID- 19 cases is on the rise, an official release said.

In a series of measures, he also ordered release of Rs 60 crore from the State Disaster Relief Fund to spruce up the preventive mechanism to contain the spread of the virus,which, however, has infected only one person in the state so far.

The 45-year-old engineer from neighbouring Kancheepuram district is set to be discharged from hospital in the coming days as he has recovered and tested negative for COVID-19.

In a detailed statement, Palaniswami said passengers arriving at Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore and Tiruchirappalli airports should be isolated if they showed symptoms of the virus.

'If necessary, passengers should be isolated for 14 days at facilities set up near these airports as per World Health Organisation norms', he said.

The Chief Minister advised the revenue, police and transport departments to jointly take up preventive measures on a war-footing at check posts in districts bordering neighbouring states.

He directed the commissioner of revenue administration to coordinate with the departments and asked District Collectors to send reports to the Chief Minister and Health Minister on a daily basis.

Palaniswami also ordered officials to enhance sanitising mechanisms in places like temples, mosques and churches and local administrations to appoint a person to monitor these initiatives.

Among the suggestions he gave to the public were to avoid journeys to other states and also not to congregate en masse in the next 15 days, practice personal hygiene and wash their hands regularly while entering their houses.

Elderly people and those suffering from diseases and children should avoid visits to places frequented by lots of people, he said Only if all people practice preventive measures could the spread of the virus in the state be controlled, Palaniswami said and urged them to cooperate with the government's initiative. PTI VIJ APR APR APR