Two-week lockdown in Maharashtra? Uddhav Thackeray to hold crucial meeting today
Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is likely to take a decision on imposing a lockdown in the state after a key meeting of the Covid-19 task force on the Covid-19 situation today. He held an all-party meeting on Saturday where the issue was discussed at length.
Uddhav Thackeray said he has been speaking to many people from different sectors and also private hospitals for the last few days. "All are ready to support the government," the chief minister said after the meeting. He is also scheduled to hold a meeting of key ministers to discuss the modalities.
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Though the duration of the lockdown will be formally announced, it is expected to last for two weeks to break the chain of infection.
“Though we are not going touch the public transport, the people will not be allowed to travel without valid reasons which include essential and medical services. Similarly, we are not going halt the long distance trains or the flight services... by keeping the trains and buses operating we want to ensure that the people stepping out for the vaccination, exams and urgent travel are not affected,” said an official privy to the matter.
Ashok Chavan, the leader of the Congress party which is a part of the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA), said on Saturday that a lockdown of a few days is necessary and then relaxations can be given.
"The chief minister will hold a meeting with the state Covid task force on Sunday. There should be a balance when imposing restrictions to prevent coronavirus and necessary factors should also be considered while imposing restrictions," he added. Chavan said the "nature, scope and duration of the lockdown will be finalised soon".
In a statement on Saturday, the chief minister's office (CMO) said that the situation is getting worse in Maharashtra. “On the one hand there is a public sentiment but on the other hand, there is an outbreak of coronavirus, in which case if you want to win this battle you have to go through some hardships,” the statement from CMO said quoting Thackeray.
Congress leader Aslam Shaikh, who is also a minister, said the stringent measures announced by the state government to control the spread of the infection are not having any impact.
"Government is trying to avoid lockdown hence stringent measures were enforced including weekend lockdown. But it seems to have no effect on new Covid-19 cases," he said.
An official said on the condition of anonymity that experts and the members of the task force are of the opinion that a lockdown needs to be imposed at least for two weeks to break the chain of the transmission of the virus.
Maharashtra government has imposed a strict weekend lockdown from Friday night till 7am on Monday. But the proposed lockdown is expected to be stricter with public transport and private vehicles likely to be allowed only for essential reasons.
The preparations of the revised standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the lockdown will begin from Sunday. Discussions on providing help and relief packages to the vulnerable groups may take place before SOPs are announced. These packages may include the distribution of foodgrain, cash assistance to construction workers and labourers among others.
Maharashtra on Saturday reported 55,411 fresh Covid-19 cases and 309 fatalities, taking the tally to 33,43,951 and the toll to 57,638, the state health department said.