Mumbai: With the spurt in coronavirus cases showing no signs of a let-up in Mumbai and Pune, the Maharashtra government may extend the lockdown by a fortnight to May 18 from May 3.
However, the lockdown is likely to be restricted to containment zones and hotspots in Mumbai and Pune. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is expected to reveal his government's stand in this regard after a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi slated for April 27.
Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope, who was in his home district Jalna, told FPJ over the phone: "Lockdown in Maharashtra is till May 3 as announced by PM Modi. Considering the increase in the number of COVID 19 cases in Mumbai and Pune in particular, I feel the lockdown may have to be extended by 15 days only in hotspots and containment zones. The extension of lockdown may not be for entire Mumbai or Pune, or for that matter for the entire state. The decision will be announced by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray after the video conference with PM Modi on Monday."
He reiterated that it was his opinion that the government may have to extend the lockdown in these two cities beyond May 3. "The government’s focus is to curb the coronavirus spread. If it is not happening, then the extension of lockdown --- particularly in hotspots and containment zones in Mumbai and Pune --- is the only option. We have to ensure that all the containment zones are completely cordoned off," Tope said. He admitted that the increasing coronavirus count, especially in slums, has been a matter of serious concern.
The minister said his department has made a strong case for closure of schools, colleges and also ban on public programmes and gatherings, festivals for a fortnight after May 3 in containment zones of Mumbai and Pune. He informed that the essential services will continue unabated. Besides, as per the revised lockdown guidelines issued last week, the agriculture and industrial activities will restart in places other than Mumbai and Pune Metropolitan regions.
Meanwhile, Tope informed that the government has achieved a crucial landmark as the state has crossed 1 lakh COVID 19 testing samples. "With the help of 40 testing laboratories, the state government has crossed 1,08,972 testing samples as on April 24, of which 6,817 are positive while over 94,485 are negative," he said. Progressive coronavirus cases in Mumbai are 5,049 with 191 deaths as on April 25. In the case of Pune, progressive cases are 1030 with 73 deaths till Saturday.