Sedate Gudi Padwa for Maha as Covid-19 count rises to 122Updated: Mar 25, 2020 23:56 IST
Fifteen more people across Maharashtra tested positive for the coronavirus on Wednesday, taking the number of such cases in India’s worst-hit state to 122.
Mumbai reported seven cases as its tally rose to 48, while five cases were recorded in Sangli and one each in Kalyan, Kamothe and Navi Mumbai.
The state, on the first day of the 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saw deserted national and state highways, barring a few people buying essential commodities in the morning. Gudi Padwa, which marks the Maharashtrian New Year, was a subdued affair with citizens celebrating it in their homes.
Maharashtra had seen the police using force and resorting to lathicharge on Tuesday, the first day of the lockdown announced by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, which was followed by Modi’s call to lock down the entire nation from Tuesday midnight.
“There were minimal incidents of use of force by the police as we had directed them to be sensitive with people. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar had heard reports of the police beating up people for coming out of their homes. On Wednesday, we saw the expected results of the lockdown, but it was because of the public holiday. We are not sure if it will remain the same on Thursday,” said a senior state bureaucrat on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, the public works department (PWD) of the state government identified 22,118 rooms in its buildings across the state that can be turned into medical facilities PWD minister Ashok Chavan said the buildings already have water and electricity supply and can be used as medical set-ups.
According to data, 2,988 people have been admitted in various state facilities from January 18 after they complained of cough, cold and fever. 2,531 of the samples tested negative, while 122 tested positive. 932 people are in isolation wards at various hospitals in the state, while 14,502 are under home quarantine. Of the seven people in Mumbai who were diagnosed with the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), five got the infection through close contacts, while the other two had travelled to the US and UAE respectively. They are currently undergoing treatment at Kasturba Hospital. One 38-year-old from Kamothe, Panvel, with a travel history of Trinidad, has been diagnosed with Covid-19. Another 26-year-old man from Kalyan tested positive for the infection after returning from Turkey. In Navi Mumbai, a 57-year-old man has been identified with the virus and who was a close contact of an infected person. As informed by state health officers, all five residents of Sangli acquired the infection through close contact.
Meanwhile, the state government on Wednesday modified its notification issued two days ago for the lockdown to bring it on the same page with the one announced by the Centre. According to it, state government offices will now remain completely shut, against its earlier announcement of operating it with 5% staff, except employees engaged in essential and emergency services. “Moreover, we have brought more clarity about establishments in the sectors exempted from the lockdown. We are facing some unwarranted problems, which may be streamlined in due course. We have exempted e-commerce establishments and restaurants for take away facilities, but societies are not allowing them to enter the building, owing to the fear of the spread of the virus,” said another official from the chief minister’s office.
Meanwhile, after government intervention, agriculture produce market committees (APMCs) have now agreed to operate, while police have been directed to facilitate transportation of vehicles carrying vegetables. This would help in smoothening the supply chain of essential commodities and avoid losses to farmers owing to the disrupted supply. “We sent about 125 truckloads of vegetables to various parts of the state from Nashik today,” said Chhagan Bhujbal, food and civil supplies minister.
“Farmers are facing multiple problems from procurement of their produce at the right rate to availability of farm labourers. Transporters are not ready to transport the farm produce in absence of valid passes issued to them to escape police action. Even though agriculture activities are exempted from the lockdown, labourers are not being allowed to travel,” said Ajit Nawale, state general secretary, Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha
In villages, the borders are being blocked to prohibit people coming from virus -affected cities. 25 of the 36 Maharashtra districts are still unaffected by the virus. The state government has sealed the district borders, but the villages have prohibited entries to people coming from affected cities like Pune, Mumbai, Pimpri-Chinchwad.
In Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Pune, celebrations on account of Gudi Padwa remained a low-key affair. Citizens raised the Gudi at their homes by suspending celebrations and processions organised every years.
Parag Vedak, founder president of Swami Vivekanand Yuva Pratisthan, which organises Padwa procession in Girgaon, said, “We have postponed our procession, which witnesses a crowd of around 1 lakh every year, to April 26, Akshay Tritiya, another auspicious festival for Hindus. It was a conscious decision of postponing the procession to maintain social distancing in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. We raised gudis in our homes and kept it a low-key affair.”