A 15-day lockdown is likely to be imposed in Maharashtra, sources said as chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is set to meet the state Covid-19 task force to take a final decision on stricter curbs amid steep rise in coronavirus cases. A detailed plan may be worked out in the meeting, a source said.
Maharashtra on Saturday reported 55,411 fresh coronavirus positive cases and 309 fatalities, taking the tally to 33,43,951 and the toll to 57,638. The state is now left with 5,36,682 active cases. Currently, 30,41,080 people are in home quarantine while 25,297 others remain admitted in institutional quarantine in the state, the state health department said. Mumbai on Saturday reported 9,330 fresh cases and 28 deaths, taking the count of infections to 5,10,512 and the toll to 11,944.
Amid the upsurge in cases, CM Thackeray said, “The number of patients is increasing so fast that if we do not decide on a lockdown today, a lockdown-like situation will automatically arise tomorrow.” Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole blamed the rise in coronavirus positive cases in the state on the “poor supply” of vaccines. The row over shortage of vials continues even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sent out a categorial message that he doesn’t endorse any kind of political blame game while fighting the pandemic.
“There was a sort of competition between states when the number of coronavirus cases started rising. This state is completely useless, its numbers are so high. That state is doing so well. Comparing various states became a fashion,” he said.
In a message that could be seen as a reassurance to the Maharashtra government, PM Modi said, “I told you that you shouldn’t worry a bit if the number of cases is high. Don’t be under any kind of pressure that your performance is bad because your numbers are high. You just focus on testing, I’m telling you even now. There is no reason to think you are doing badly if your numbers are high…There will be more positive cases if you do more testing.”
Maharashtra PWD Minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan has said the state government’s priority is to save the lives and livelihood of the people.
WHAT MAY HAPPEN AT CM UDDHAV-COVID TASK FORCE MEET:
• A Times of India report quoted senior officials as saying that all the curbs being observed in the current weekend lockdown may be extended to weekdays.
• The lockdown will not be as stringent as it was last year, but only food manufacturing units along with medical diagnostics kits, pharmaceutical industries and their supply chains may be allowed to operate. “Initially, too, only industries associated with essentials were allowed to operate. A similar restriction may be imposed this time as well,” the report quoted its sources as saying.
• The report further quoted senior officials as saying that while the current restrictions will continue, unchecked daytime movement on weekdays may be restricted too. Currently, there is only a prohibitory order which does not allow assembly of more than five people during the day, though movement is unrestricted.
• A source was quoted as saying that the government is likely to continue with public transport such as trains, autos and buses for essential workers and for the general public for essential activities and emergencies. “There are nearly 60,000 people who head out to vaccination centres in Mumbai every day. There will be students going out for exams. Public transport will continue for all those who have a valid reason to step out,” said the official.
• Long-distance trains will also continue to run so that no one is stuck and “there is no panic”.
• The official further said that there was a debate regarding whether a seven-day lockdown suffice, but health officials were of the opinion that at least a 15-day lockdown is required to have the desired impact. While a Covid task force meeting is likely on Sunday, deputy CM Ajit Pawar will call for a meeting to plan the relief measures on Monday, the report stated.
• All the alliance partners have supported the decision and opposition leaders have asked the government to announce a relief package for all those who will be impacted.