Pune: Night curfew timings in Pune district have been revised to 6 pm-6 am from the earlier 8 pm-7 am. The decision was taking following a Covid-19 review meeting chaired by Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. Moreover, it has been decided to shut restaurants, bars, malls and religious places for seven days. Restaurants will, however, be allowed to provide food parcel and delivery services until 10 pm, Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao said.
The order will be implemented from Saturday (April 3) and will be reviewed next Friday. A state-wide night-curfew is in force from 8 pm to 7 am along with other stringent measures.
Only home deliveries of food, medicines and other essential services will be allowed in this period.
Pune is among the worst-affected areas in India as a result of a renewed wave of infections.
Late Thursday night Pune authorities confirmed 8,011 new coronavirus cases had been detected, pushing the total caseload to nearly 5.5 lakh. This was the second consecutive 24-hour period in which Pune reported over 8,000 new cases.
On Wednesday, the district reported 8,605 new cases – its biggest single-day spike ever since the pandemic began in December 2019.
“Of the total number of new cases, 4,103 were reported from the areas located within the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits, where the caseload has gone up to 2,73,446,” officials said.
Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol has directed private hospitals to make 80 per cent of beds available for COVID-19 patients.
“Presently, there is no serious need of imposing lockdown. Instead testing, tracing and vaccination drives have to be increased, which we are doing already,” he told news agency. The Mayor, however, warned that if the spike could not be controlled soon, stricter measures, including a lockdown, may follow.
At the meeting, almost all elected representatives including Members of Parliament Girish Bapat, Shrirang Barne, Vandana Chavan, Amol Kolhe and Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol opposed the idea of imposing a complete lockdown, and instead proposed stringent curbs be imposed and effectively implemented by the police.
Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao and PMC Commissioner Vikram Kumar said additional curbs at public places, markets and public transport were important to reduce the number of cases and consequently ensure those who are severely infected get a hospital bed.
PMC Commissioner Vikram Kumar said at the rate Covid-19 cases were spreading in the city, the daily detections might soon touch 9,000 if stringent measures were not imposed.
Rao pointed out that with Covid-19 cases growing in neighbouring districts such as Satara, Sangli and Solapur, Pune district was seeing a shortage of oxygen supply and hence the administration has taken steps to meet the shortfall.
Deputy CM Pawar said though he was against imposing a lockdown, the situation was getting very serious and in a few days finding a hospital bed would become close to impossible.
“With the current speed of spread, we won’t have enough beds even if we take on board 100 per cent private hospital beds for Covid-19… After a point, people won’t get a bed even if they call Ajit Pawar for help. Everyone here is asking for stringent measures but no lockdown. What does that mean?” he asked.
Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol suggested additional restrictions could be imposed on public transport but the facility should not be closed completely as it would cause hardships to common citizens. He said instead of imposing a lockdown which will cause loss of livelihood for poor families, the government should focus on increasing the medical infrastructure and speeding up the vaccination drive.
Chavan suggested some hospitals be reserved as ‘non-Covid-19′ facilities so those suffering from other ailments do not stay at home for fear of being infected with Covid-19, or be turned away due to non-availability of beds.
Apart from Pune, state capital Mumbai has also seen a worrying spike in Covid cases.
On Thursday the city reported 8,646 new cases – the highest ever in a 24-hour period. Mumbai authorities have also stepped up measures to control the spread of the virus, including conducting random Covid tests on people in public places like malls and bus stations.
Like her Pune counterpart, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar is hesitant about re-imposing a city-wide lockdown, but warned that “some strict measures will have to be taken”.
“Nobody wants lockdown but keeping in mind the manner in which cases are rising and creating pressure on the health infrastructure, some strict measures will have to be taken,” she said.
Cases have been increasing across Maharashtra – the worst-affected state – as well. Over 43,000 new cases were reported in 24 hours, the state government said on Thursday night.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is to address the state at 8.30 pm.