Maharashtra is likely to announce a complete lockdown from April 15 for at least two weeks in view of alarming rise in coronavirus cases, even though daily count on Monday saw a slight dip. According to sources, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government is scheduled to make the announcement by Tuesday evening. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has been holding back-to-back meetings with the Covid-19 task force, cabinet, apart from the all-party meet that he chaired on Saturday to deliberate on lockdown options. All eyes are now set on CM Uddhav’s address scheduled for 8:30pm today. According to reports, while Thackeray favoured only an eight-day lockdown, medical experts pushed for 14 days for Maharashtra to help contain the virus spread which has turned out to be be more dangerous in the second wave.
‘No Sudden Lockown’
According to Guardian Minister Aslam Sheikh, guidelines for the Maharashtra lockdown, as part of its ‘Break the Chain’ campaign, are being readied. An announcement in this regard is expected today. However, Sheikh has clarified that there won’t be a sudden clampdown on movement of people and that government is working on mitigation efforts, like increasing number of beds in hospitals, in view of the alarming coronavirus situation in the state.
The Guardian Minister also said the state government will also have to decide guidelines regarding the people returning from Kumbh mela in Haridwar as COVID-19 appropriate behaviour was not followed at that congregation.
“Maharashtra chief minister has already spoken to members of the COVID-19 task force. He also held discussions with political leaders including those from Opposition parties, and with members of industries. We tried a weekend
lockdown, night curfew and other measures. “We will come up with fresh guidelines today to break the chain of coronavirus. There will be a standard operating procedure for the entire state, which will be announced (on Tuesday) itself,” he said.
Maharashtra has been the worst-hit state in India and has been topping the charts ever since the pandemic clutched the country in March 2020. The state, which is contributing over half of the daily infections to the national tally, implemented limited restrictions earlier this month, which involved night and weekend curfews.
Maharashtra on Monday reported 51,751 fresh coronavirus positive cases, a day after logging the highest 63,294 infections, while 258 people died, the state health department said. The state’s cumulative case tally now stands at 34,58,996 and the toll at 58,245, it said.
Maharashtra is now left with 5,64,746 active cases, the department said in a release. Mumbai saw 6,893 new cases and 43 fatalities, taking the tally to 5,27,391 and the toll to 12,066.
Curbs to Check Virus Spread
While initially the government had been averting a complete lockdown, the decision looked inevitable as it continued to report nearly 60,000 coronavirus cases daily. Among other slew of measures to take control of the coronavirus situation, the government said three more jumbo hospitals for covid care will come up in Mumbai in a week’s time. The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai said certain 4 and 5 star hotels shall be converted into CCC2 (Covid Care Centre for positive patients) which will be run by professionals from major private hospitals to make large number of beds available to new needy patients.
The state government is also planning to restrict the general public from using Mumbai local train services in order to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
Lockdown fears have been looming over Maharashtra for over a week in view of grim situation. On Tuesday, people flooded markets for last-minute panic buying in in Mumbai, Kalyan-Dombivli, Vasai and Virar to stock up on daily essentials. Markets witnessed a rush on Monday too when people stepped out after two days of weekend lockdown. Vegetable vendors and general stores selling fast-moving consumer goods saw higher buying from around 5.30 pm when the CM’s office informed of Thackeray’s virtual address on Tuesday over social media platforms. A shopkeeper, however, said that the panic buying is not as high as the one seen in March last year after Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a four-hour window for a nationwide lockdown. Another shopper said the likelihood of some strict measures, if not a lockdown, have been internalised by the consumers over the last ten days due to which essential supplies have already been purchased.
(with PTI inputs)