Amid Covid spike, Maharashtra plans another lockdown
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray asked state officials to begin preparing an implementation plan for another lockdown on Sunday, when the state reported record 40,414 cases of Covid-19 amid a nationwide surge in infections that have prompted the authorities to consider stricter guidelines to control the spread.
In a meeting with chief minister Thackeray and Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope, members of the state Covid-19 taskforce expressed apprehensions that the state could report 40,000 fresh infections over the next 24 hours, according to an official statement.
Thackeray said the citizens were flouting all Covid-19 guidelines and the state would be forced to take this step. The chief minister’s announcement came soon after the state’s Covid-19 taskforce recommended strict measures including a lockdown to counter the alarming surge in infections and deaths. The chief minister then asked officials to prepare a detailed plan for the implementation of a lockdown which will have minimum impact on the economy of the state, the release said.
“There should not be any kind of confusion among the people once a lockdown is announced,” the CM was quoted as saying.
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On Sunday, Maharashtra reported 40,414 new Covid-19 cases and 108 deaths. On Saturday, it recorded 35,726 cases and 166 deaths (the highest single-day fatalities since October 23). With the daily positivity rate exceeding 22% for the last eight days, Maharashtra’s cumulative cases stood at 2,713,875 on Sunday, more than twice that of Kerala, India’s second-worst-affected state. Maharashtra also crossed 300,000 active cases on Saturday. “24,619 cases had been reported on a single day in September, 2020. However, on March 27 this year, the state reported 35,726 new cases in a day. This number could touch 40,000 in the next 24 hours,” the release said, quoting members of the taskforce.
Thackeray blamed the citizens for the situation, saying that they were not wearing masks and weddings had more than the stipulated number of people, with markets also being crowded. He said since it was the responsibility of the government to take care of the health of the citizens, officials were instructed to start preparing for a lockdown. He said that in case of a lockdown, the state’s officials will need to ensure adequate supply of foodgrains, medicines and essential services, including health care.
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The taskforce recommended that there be a limited-period lockdown and that all steps be taken to ensure its strict implementation. It also wanted Covid-19 patients to opt for institutional quarantine rather than home isolation so that they could be monitored effectively.
Maharashtra health minister Tope said that since the citizens were not listening and the patients were increasing, the state had no option left but to impose a lockdown.