Maharashtra likely to be put under lockdown amid Covid surge

Amid an exponential rise in Covid-19 cases and deaths, Maharashtra may see a two or three-week lockdown, sources said after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and senior officials met with the state’s Covid task force on Sunday.

Although no definite decision on a lockdown or further restrictions was taken at the meeting on Sunday, those in attendance felt that a lockdown is essential to curb the rise in cases, although the word ‘lockdown’ may be avoided to cause panic.

“Everyone was of the view that a lockdown should be imposed on the state. Some were of the view that the lockdown should be imposed for two weeks, some were in favour of a three-week lockdown. A meeting will be held again tomorrow,” state minister Aslam Sheikh said on Sunday evening after the meeting.

“The task force is of the view that the prevailing coronavirus situation is such that a lockdown is required, said state health minister Rajesh Tope, adding that the duration of the lockdown and how to handle its economic fallout were discussed in Sunday’s meeting.

The CM was also scheduled to meet bureaucrats on Sunday night. Another meeting will be held today to discuss the situation with trade associations.

Tope also said that Thackeray will take a decision on imposing lockdown after discussing it with Cabinet Ministers on Wednesday. The CM will hold discussions with the finance department and others to outline a relief package for poor workers who might face the brunt of another lockdown.

At the meeting on Sunday, a detailed discussion on medical facilities and the management of hospitals in Maharashtra was also carried out, besides the topic of setting up oxygen generation plants, increasing the number of hospital beds and the availability of Remdesivir injections, sources said. Coordination of the Centre and the state to control the surge in infections was also discussed.

As cases spiral in Maharashtra, its healthcare services have been stretched thin and various hospitals have reported a shortage of medical necessities such as oxygen and ventilators. Thackeray also took suggestions from the task force for the improvement of medical facilities and optimisation of available medical infrastructure and resources in the state, while working to increase them during the suggested lockdown.

Maharashtra is among the worst-hit states in India and is witnessing an alarming increase in Covid-19 cases. In the last 24 hours, the state saw 63,294 new cases and 349 deaths, taking its total positive cases to 34,07,245. State capital Mumbai reported 9,989 new cases.

There are now 5,65,587 active cases in the state. Out of the total cases, 91,100 have been reported from Mumbai, 74,335 from Thane, and 1,09,590 from Pune.

A total of 27,82,161 recoveries and 57,987 deaths have also been reported in the state so far. With 34,008 recoveries in the last 24 hours, the recovery rate in the state is now 81.65 percent.


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