Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Monday squarely blamed people in metros like Mumbai and Delhi for not following the lockdown guidelines properly. He said that is one of the main reasons these cities are not performing well in controlling the spread of virus as compared to other cities.
The union minister’s statement is crucial as the central teams are in Mumbai, Thane and Pune to assist the local administration to curb the pandemic. Dr Vardhan conveyed displeasure to the Maharashtra government during his video chat for more focus on the strict implementation of lockdown norms and thereby avoid gathering of people. “I have a feeling people in these cities have not followed lockdown principles quite adequately,” said Dr Vardhan.
His statement comes at a time when Mumbai alone has reported over 20% of India’s overall cases. The overall case count in the Mumbai Municipal Corporation stands at 8,800 with 343 deaths as on May 3. In case of Delhi, it has so far reported 4,549 confirmed cases. Incidentally, CM Uddhav Thackeray also echoed similar concerns, saying it was found people in Mumbai and other cities are moving freely after relaxation was announced. He warned non-compliance of lockdown guidelines will not be tolerated and asked civic and district administration to pay more attention so entire Maharashtra will become green zone.
Further, Dr Vardhan admitted some big cities had borne the maximum brunt of international travellers and that could have contributed to more cases there.
Senior bureaucrat, part of the state disaster management strategy, recalled the Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba’s directives asking states to immediately strengthen surveillance of international air travellers who entered India betweenJanuary 18 to March 23 as there appeared to be a "gap" between those being monitored for COVID-19 and 15 lakh arrivals during the period. ‘’Mumbai being one of the busiest airports the number is certain high in the passengers arrived between that period. The government has stepped up surveillance and found of several but despite repeated appeals some are hiding and not coming forward for tests. This could be another reason for coronavirus spread,’’ he opined.Further, Dr Harshvardhan pointed out that the implementation of social distancing and lockdown norms may not be practical in slums. Despite increase in the number of tests and institutional quarantine facilities in Dharavi, the number of rising. The total number of cases surged to 590 and 20 deaths as on May 3.