Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday asked senior health officials to prepare for restrictions “similar to lockdown” if people continue to flout Covid norms in the state. CM Thackeray’s firm directive comes at a time when Maharashtra is consistently reporting a sharp increase in Covid infections and deaths.
He said that the Covid-19 cases are rising because people are not following the guidelines seriously. “That is why strict steps like lockdowns are being considered,” he said.
Thackeray asked officials to prepare a plan for implementation of a lockdown which will have a minimum impact on the economy on the recommendation of the state Covid-19 task force, an official release said.
In a meeting held with the chief minster, health minister Rajesh Tope and other officials, members of the task force expressed apprehension that the state might report 40,000 fresh cases in the next 24 hours, it said.
During the meeting, the CM reviewed health infrastructure including availability of beds, oxygen, medicines etc. in the state to treat Covid-19 patients.
The task force then recommended that the state government implement measures like a stricter lockdown to stem the rise in coronavirus positive cases.
“There should not be any kind of confusion among the people once a lockdown is announced,” the CM is quoted as saying.
Health Care System Stretched?
Maharashtra has seen a huge rise in coronavirus positive cases over the last week.
“24,619 cases had been reported on a single day in September, 2020. However, on March 27 this year, the state reported 35,726 new cases in a day. This number could touch 40,000 in the next 24 hours,” the release said quoting the members of the task force.
Dr Vyas made a presentation on the current status of beds, ventilators, availability of oxygen during the meeting.
“There are 3.57 lakh isolation beds in the state of which 1.07 lakh are already filled. The remaining beds are getting filled at a higher speed,” Dr Vyas said, adding that out of the 60,349 oxygen beds, 12,701 beds are already occupied by Covid-19 patients.
“Out of the 19,930 beds, 8,342 beds are already occupied with mild symptomatic patients. 1,881 of the 9,030 ventilators also remain occupied,” he said.
Dr Vyas said some districts in the state do not have vacant beds at all, which is an indication of the health system falling short (to tackle the rising cases).
The health department has blamed the rise in cases to the delayed response by citizens.
“People are not testing in time. They are not following Covid-appropriate behaviour. At the same time, private establishments are not following the 50 per cent attendance norms. There seems a casual approach towards home isolation. These all factors could be some of the reasons behind the spike in the cases,” the department said.
Struggling to arrest the fresh surge in Covid cases, the Maharashtra government on Saturday announced a ban on all types of gatherings in the state.
The state government also ordered that restaurants, gardens and malls will remain shut between 8pm to 7am beginning Saturday night.
People will also not be allowed to visit beaches during 8pm to 7am, an official order said.
The state has already imposed night curfew to bring the situation under control.
Mumbai reported its highest-ever spike in a day in the number of COVID-19 cases on Sunday with 6,923 infections in the last 24 hours taking the tally to 3,98,674, the city civic body said. The city recorded eight deaths taking the overall count to 11,649, it said.
On Saturday, Maharashtra reported 166 coronavirus-related deaths, its highest this year, besides 35,726 new cases.
Mumbai had reported 6,123 cases and 12 deaths on Saturday.