Lockdown in Maharashtra can't be ruled out as Covid-19 cases rise, says Uddhav; stricter curbs to be announced soon
Addressing the people of the state amid the ongoing Covid-19 spike, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said a lockdown in the state can not be ruled out, but an alternative to complete lockdown will be found out in a day or two after the CM discusses the situation with experts. But if no alternative is found, then the decision will be taken after two days, the CM said, adding, "I am not announcing a lockdown but warning about it".
Lockdown is a catch 22 situation as it impacts the economy, Uddhav said, reiterating his stance against lockdown. But stricter restrictions will come soon, he said, giving the details of how cases in the state have been rising while the government is ramping up healthcare facilities, administering vaccines at a fast pace.
The second wave of the pandemic is more severe than the first one, the CM said adding that the state lowered its guards of late and crowding was reported at wedding ceremonies and public places.
Pointing out an imminent health care crisis in the state, the CM during his social media live interaction said as cases are rising, there is a scarcity of doctors. "As far as the health infrastructure is concerned, we have been ramping up continuously, but where will we get doctors and healthcare workers? In January, there used to be 350 patients a day. But now, the number has gone up to 8,500 a day," the CM said.
The CM also said the state will soon conduct 2.5 lakh tests and 70 per cent of these will be RT-PCR, as recommended by the Centre.
This is not the first time that the chief minister warned about lockdown in the state and on Friday, he began his live address saying that there is nothing to panic yet as speculations of a state-wide lockdown were rife after the government announced that Thackeray would address the public through Facebook live.
The Maha Vikas Aghadi government is facing resistance in the issue of lockdown. Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam on Thursday attended a silent protest of hotel owners against Maharashtra's night curfew. AIMIM MP of Aurangabad Imtiyaz Jaleel was also spotted in a celebration gathering after the district took back its lockdown order. In an oblique reference to these incidents, Uddhav said all political parties should positively respond to the government's lockdown request if there is any in future. Instead of taking to the streets opposing lockdown, there is a need to help healthcare workers, the CM said.
Before the address, the chief minister held a high-level meeting with the officials to review the pandemic situation of Maharashtra. The situation of the state has been moving from bad to worse since the middle of February with daily cases shooting up every day, but the government reiterated that it was not in favour of imposing a lockdown in the state.
With more than 50 per cent of the country's active Covid-19 cases being concentrated in the state, the present situation is worse than 2020, when the pandemic was believed to be at its peak. The Centre has also expressed concerns over the worsening Covid-19 situation of the state.
The state government earlier instructed district administrations to impose local lockdowns to rein in the spread of the infection. Akola, Amravati, Yavatmal, Nagpur districts have come under restrictions in February and March. The Pune district authorities on Friday announced fresh restrictions on malls, restaurants, asking them to remain shut for seven days.