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Maha sees sharpest one-day spike in cases and deaths

By Swapnil Rawal and Surendra P Gangan, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JUN 11, 2020 12:32 AM IST

As Maharashtra recorded its highest single-day jump in Covid-19 cases yet with 3,254 fresh Covid-19 infections, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday reiterated his demand to resume local train services for those working in essential and emergency services. Thackeray also warned that relaxations would be withdrawn if norms to reduce crowding are not followed, adding that the threat of Covid-19 still persists.

With the fresh cases, the total number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra stands at 94,041. Maharashtra also recorded is 149 new fatalities, of which 66 occurred in the past two days, while the remaining 83 were recorded between April 18 and June 6.

Mumbai recorded 1,567 new Covid-10 cases and 97 deaths, its highest for a day. Besides Mumbai, 15 deaths were recorded in Thane, 10 in Pune, seven in Aurangabad, five each in Navi Mumbai and Jalgaon, three in Ulhasnagar, two each in Vasai-Virar and Akola, one each in Beed, Amravati, and Gadchiroli. The state also saw 1,879 patients discharged on Wednesday, taking the total number of people recovered and discharged to 44,517. The active cases in the state stand at 46,074.

Thackeray, while speaking to the media at Vidhan Bhavan, said the state government was insisting on the resumption of suburban services in Mumbai. “We have been demanding from the Centre the resumption of rail services. The hospital staff and other workforce engaged in essential and emergency services are finding it difficult to commute from far-off areas to Mumbai. Some of them are not even able to report for duty. The resumption of locals is very important for the facility of this workforce,” he said.

However, senior railway officials in Mumbai have stated there have been no directions from the railway ministry on the starting operation of local trains. “There has been no discussion regarding local trains during any of the video conferences. The outstation train services that have been started are only after discussions and approval from the ministry of home affairs. A decision regarding local train operations will also be taken post discussion with the ministry of home affairs,” said a senior railway official who did want to be named.

Thackeray had demanded the resumption of suburban railway services for Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), during his video conference with prime minister Narendra Modi a month ago.

The chief minister said that the government is moving “cautiously” on unlocking the curbs it had put in March to contain the spread of coronavirus in the state. The current phase of the lockdown with restrictions will remain till June 30, he said. However, he warned that the government would be compelled to withdraw relaxations if crowding does not reduce and if norms are flouted.

The statement comes after there was crowding seen in Mumbai and parts of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) after restrictions were lifted from Monday. Crowding was seen at bus stops, at promenades during morning and evening walks, etc.

Mumbai, and MMR, which includes Thane, Navi Mumbai, Vasai-Virar, Mira-Bhayander, Palghar, Panvel, Raigad, Kalyan-Dombivli, Ulhasnagar, Bhiwandi, was the latest to see relaxationS in curbs. Mumbai and MMR, which crossed the 70,000-mark, have been Covid-19 hotspots since the outbreak.

“The threat of Covid-19 has not passed, it still persists. As we continue to battle corona[virus], we cannot put the brakes on wheels of the economy. We were shocked looking at the crowd on the first day. Outdoor physical activities are permitted for your good health and not to spoil it. People will have to keep physical distance [while stepping out]. Public transport, including buses and suburban trains, have not been started. The government is evaluating it. If we feel that the lifting of lockdown is life-threatening, then we will be forced to impose the lockdown again,” Thackeray said, adding that he is confident that the people of Maharashtra will continue to listen to the government’s rules and guidelines.

Dr Lancelot Pinto, an epidemiologist from Hinduja Hospital, said that the unlocking of activities would definitely give rise to the number of cases in the state. He added that the people should still continue to only venture if it is essential. “I think there would definitely be a rise in cases. The graph [of cases] is still upward. The unlocking should also be accompanied by adequate educating of people. Unlocking is an economic decision and not because we are confident that all is well. Unfortunately, people do not understand this; they assume that because restrictions are lifted they can go all out. The wise thing is to still step out only if one is doing essential work even though if it is not mandated by law. People are seen walking on promenades; this is luxury,” Pinto said.

(with inputs from Aroosa Ahmed)

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