'Next 2 days critical': Uddhav Thackeray warns of complete lockdown if COVID-19 cases continue to surge
'Next 2 days critical': Uddhav Thackeray warns of complete lockdown if COVID-19 cases continue to surge

The Maharashtra government plans the imposition of a stricter lockdown across the state, as the spurt in corona cases and deaths continue unabated, despite the imposition of a 15 -day ‘Janata Curfew’, until 7am on May 1. Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Vijay Wadettiwar said on Monday that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray would decide on the matter in the next two days.

Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that the state government, in a bid to further control crowding, the government has decided to curtail the timings of the grocery shops to just four hours, from 7 am to 11 am. In Jalna, Tope’s home district, the administration had already reduced the timings of essential commodity shops amid rising Covid cases, as has also been done in Thane and some Mumbai suburbs, including Bhandup and Powai.

Wadettiwar said, “The government is currently seeking details of the six-day lockdown imposed by the Delhi Government. It will study the lockdown imposed by the Delhi government before taking any decision. The ongoing curfew is not helping contain the virus spread as expected. A decision is expected in connection with a strict lockdown in a day or two,” he said. Section 144 of the CrPC, prohibiting the assembly of five or more people at one spot has already been imposed.

Traders and shopkeepers had earlier opposed the imposition of a lockdown, but are now in favour of such a measure, Wadettiwar said. “We will take information on how trains and essential services are allowed there (in Delhi) before arriving at any decision," he said.

Meanwhile, Tope said “The government may decide to reduce the timings of grocery shops as the number of corona patients do not appear to be declining despite the imposition of new restrictions. Police have been instructed to tighten the restrictions. If the virus chain needs to be broken, the implementation of these curbs should be done more strictly,” said Tope. He added that the district administration had been asked to take decisions in the respective districts about the curtailment of timings of grocery and other essential goods shops.

“Because of connectivity issues, communication with district collectors, especially from remote areas cannot take place daily. Therefore, it was suggested that the secretaries in charge of districts should play a proactive role in the implementation of corona containment measures,” noted Tope.

As far as the oxygen supply was concerned, Tope said the state was receiving 1,500 metric tonnes daily, which would increase by another 300 MT to 1,800 MT, as per the Centre’s assurance. “However, if there will be any disruption in oxygen availability then the state may face a major problem in meeting the rising demand. The state is procuring oxygen from Bhilai, Bellari and Visakhapatanam. In the wake of rising cases, the district collectors have been directed to instal units for the production of oxygen directly from the air,” he added.

Tope said hospitals had been asked to procure oxygen concentrators. Further, he added, the Centre had approved the setting up of new plants for the production of Remdesivir, which is currently in short supply in the state.

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