In view of the alarming rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar on Saturday said that pilgrims returning from the Kumbh Mela, Haridwar may have to mandatorily go through institutional quarantine on entering Mumbai.
“The Kumbh returnees will spread infection across the state like prasad, similar to last year when 27 people got infected after returning from an Islamic religious gathering in Delhi," said Pednekar. "We don't know who went to the Kumbh mela but we think that all the returnees should be quarantined at their own expenses to curb any further spread. We have procured hotels for isolation facilities and are working towards expanding the bed capacity as well,” the Mayor said.
She added that at railway stations and bus depots, tickets of the incoming passengers will be examined. Those returning from Kumbh or any adjoining areas will be shifted to a quarantine centre. She added that in view of the rapid surge in cases, a complete lockdown across the state is necessary now.
"The overall situation in Mumbai is very grim. The CM should call an emergency meeting. I think another complete lockdown is necessary," she said.
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Senior BMC officials said that so far no decision has been taken on isolation of Kumbh returnees. "This decision will have to be taken by the state government as the pilgrims will not only return to Mumbai but other parts of Maharashtra. The entire state is affected by the second wave," said Suresh Kakani, BMC additional commissioner and in-charge of public health.
He said the government agencies are also working towards formulating a plan to quarantine those returning from other states. "Reverse migration is also happening in the state as there are many who work in other parts of the state and are now visiting Mumbai to spend time with their family. A final call will be taken by the state government," he said.
The Mayor also inspected some civic hospitals and asked them to stock up mini oxygen cylinders. "Each mini cylinder has the capacity of supplying oxygen till four hours," said Pednekar.
Kakani said the BMC is coordinating with the FDA to augment the stock of oxygen supply. "Mumbai requires 235 metric tonnes of oxygen. We are working towards ramping up our stocks by getting more cylinders from other states. The situation will improve in two days. Meanwhile, some patients have been shifted to jumbo facilities from private hospitals," Kakani said.