Mumbai: A chorus is on for the extension of lockdown beyond May 1 to break the virus chain. Senior ministers Chhagan Bhujbal, Vijay Wadettiwar and Uday Samant on Tuesday made a strong case for further extending the lockdown as they feel the current phase has thrown up a few positive results, especially in terms of stabilization in corona cases, increase in positivity and reduction in the fatality rate.
A state cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is slated for Wednesday, which will review the pandemic situation and take a decision on extension of lockdown beyond May 1.
This apart, the state cabinet will also decide on providing 12 crore free vaccines to 5.71 crore people in the age group of 18-44. The state will need a whopping Rs 7,500 crore for free vaccination beginning May 1.
These ministers have argued that the opening of activities from May 1, which is Maharashtra Day, may not help the state to curb infection as the Centre has projected a peak in May. The state public health department has projected that the active cases may reach 11 lakh by May 2 from the present level of 6,72,434. They have suggested that the state government will get a much needed respite to increase bed availability, develop jumbo centres and procure oxygen and Remdesivir, in particular.
Bhujbal, Wadettiewar and Samant have separately said the lockdown i should be extended as relaxation will lead to crowding and defeat the very purpose of breaking the virus chain. Wadettiewar suggested that the lockdown extension is necessary, especially in Vidarbha and Marathwada, in the view of the galloping COVID 19 cases.
They have also said that lifting of lockdown may lead to rise in cases which will further put constraints on the health infrastructure and in the procurement of oxygen, Remdesivir and other medical equipment
A senior bureaucrat told the Free Press Journal, '‘There is a thinking that the opening of activities should be done in phases and not at one go. The state cabinet will take all factors in to account before giving its nod.’’
Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope has admitted that the vaccination of 5.71 crore people in the age group 18-44 is a major challenge, especially since the state has to organize the required 12 crore vaccine doses. Serum India Institute has conveyed that it can provide vaccine doses ny after May 20 while Bharat Biotech is yet to respond to the state’s communication.
Tope has urged people not to rush to the vaccination centres from May 1 as the government is in the midst of working out the further modalities.