Uddhav Thackeray (HT PHOTO)
Uddhav Thackeray (HT PHOTO)

Second Covid-19 wave nearing, lockdown decision in citizens’ hands: Uddhav

Maharashtra chief minister bans social, religious and political gatherings; state sees highest one-day spike in cases in 121 days
PUBLISHED ON FEB 22, 2021 12:25 AM IST

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, in a televised address on Sunday, said a second Covid-19 wave is knocking on the state’s doors and warned citizens of another lockdown if protocol is not being followed. Thackeray said a decision will be taken after eight days, even as he announced a ban on all religious, social and political gatherings from today and empowered local administrations to impose area-specific lockdowns if necessary.

Thackeray, in his 40-minute speech, said, “It will be known in the next eight-15 days whether it is a second wave. We have been struggling with it [the pandemic] during the first wave because of poor health infrastructure, but it will be worse if another peak of cases happens. I am worried about the severity of a second wave if it hits the state,” he said.

Thackeray said he was leaving the decision of another lockdown to the people of Maharashtra.

“I am asking you whether you want curbs to be imposed again. The simple mantra is wear a mask, follow discipline and avoid lockdown. We will review the situation again in the next eight days and decide on a lockdown,” he said.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra recorded 6,971 new Covid-19 infections, its highest one-day spike in 121 days (since October 23 when the state clocked 7,347 cases).

The state’s case tally reached 2,100,884, while the toll went up to 51,799 with 35 more deaths. Many districts such as Amravati, Yavatmal, Akola, Nashik and Pune imposed curbs in the wake of rise in number of cases over the past two weeks.

“In districts such as Amravati, the cases have mounted to the level that was there during the peak of the pandemic. I have instructed district administrations from Amravati and other Vidarbha districts to take a decision about the lockdown and other curbs at their level. I also urge political parties to go back to digital platforms for their meetings and gatherings. The political, religious, social gatherings and protests that lead to crowding will be banned in the state from tomorrow [Monday],” he said.

He also said that the offices should resort to staggered working hours. “I have requested the central government during our meeting with NITI Aayog to plan for staggered working hours of offices. The offices should stagger their timings by dividing their employees in batches and encouraging them to the work from home. This would help in avoiding crowding in trains and public places,” he said.

Thackeray also announced to launch an “I am responsible” drive urging people to keep the virus’ spread at bay by wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and frequently sanitising hands.

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