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As Covid-19 Cases in Maharashtra Cross 19,000, CM Refutes Rumours of Army Taking over Mumbai

Representative image. (Reuters)

Representative image. (Reuters)

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said said the state government may ask the central government for "additional manpower", if needed, in order to give rest to police personnel who have been working round-the-clock.

The number of coronavirus cases in Maharashtra rose to 19,063 with 1,089 new cases being detected on Friday, 784 of them in Mumbai alone. The death toll due to the pandemic in the state rose to 731, with 37 deaths reported during the day, said a health department statement, adding 169 patients were discharged after recovery.

With cases in the state increasing daily by leaps and bounds, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray refuted rumours that the Indian Army will be called in to Mumbai to manage the crisis. The state capital reported 25 deaths on Friday while Pune had 10.

But the state government, if necessary, might ask for "additional manpower" from the Union government to give respite to the police in Mumbai who are working round-the-clock, Thackeray said in a live webcast. He also admitted that the "chain" of infection has not been broken in the state yet.

The number of infected persons in Mumbai currently stands at 11,967 and the death toll at 462, according to a statement from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.

As Mumbai’s crisis continued to grow, the state government on Friday shunted out BMC Commissioner Pradeep Pardeshi for his failure to help arrest the spread of the pandemic.

Asking people not to believe rumours, Thackeray said the government may ask for "additional manpower" from the central government, if needed, in order to give rest to police personnel.

"This doesn't mean that Mumbai will be handed over to the Army. Police personnel are tired after working round-the clock, some have fallen sick and a few of them have succumbed to the virus. They need rest," he said.

Thackeray said the relaxation of lockdown after May 17 depends on how far people maintain discipline and follow rules.

"We have to come out of the lockdown one day or the other. We can't be staying permanently like this. But to come out of this sooner, you need to follow rules and maintain discipline of social distancing and use face mask," he said.

Thackeray admitted that even though the extent of the spread of the virus has been contained, there has been no success in "breaking the virus chain". But he assured citizens that Mumbai has adequate medical infrastructure for treatment of COVID-19 patients.

Although the number of coronavirus cases was rising, the number of patients who are recovering is also high, he pointed out. With 154 patients being discharged from Mumbai hospitals on Friday, the number of recovered patients grew to 2,589.

If needed, medical facilities at central government institutions in the city will be used as isolation centres, he added.

So far, 2,12,350 people have been tested for coronavirus in Maharashtra. There are 1,139 containment zones while 2,39, 531 people are in home quarantine and 13,494 in institutional quarantine.

Pune has reported 1,938 positive cases and 132 deaths, Thane city 724 cases and eight deaths, Navi Mumbai 716 cases and four deaths, Kalyan Dombivali 284 cases and three deaths, Mira Bhayander 192 cases and two deaths, Vasai Virar 194 cases and nine deaths, Panvel 132 cases and two deaths, and Malegaon 450 cases and 12 deaths.

(With inputs from PTI)