Amid a massive surge in COVID-19 cases, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) is likely to impose a 15-day lockdown from April 1 or 2, government sources told the Free Press Journal. The SOPs are being finalized, the sources added.
The local trains in Mumbai may run despite a lockdown, shops also may remain open but with restricted timings, but the lockdown won't affect emergency services, the sources further added.
Meanwhile, Thackeray on Sunday instructed senior officials of the State Health Department and the COVID task force to prepare for a lockdown as people continue to violate COVID-19 protocols.
Thackeray's remarks came at a meeting of senior officials of the state's health department and the state government's COVID-19 task force.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister was informed that the way the number of cases is increasing on a daily basis, Maharashtra may soon face a scarcity of beds for COVID-19 patients.
The Health Department officials also informed Thackeray that the rising number of COVID deaths is also alarming.
The Chief Minister observed that people are not taking the guidelines seriously and that is why serious steps, similar to a lockdown, need to be considered.
Uddhav said, "Staffing restrictions are still not being followed in private offices, rules for wedding ceremonies are being broken, social distancing isn't followed in markets, and people aren't wearing masks." The government is trying its best to keep the economy afloat even in this situation, but "ultimately, protecting people's health is our priority", the CM said. Thackeray also directed the officials to increase the number of beds, ventilators and oxygen supply.
Moreover, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope expressed the need to expedite the search for the contacts of COVID-19 patients in rural areas. "It is a matter of concern that people infected with COVID-19 are arriving at hospitals late. Large numbers of patients are now emerging in the age group of 10 to 18 years," he said. Tope also expressed fears that the death rate among the youth may also increase in the near future.
This comes after the Maharashtra government imposed a night curfew across the state. The government issued a notification on Saturday and said the night curfew would be from 8 pm to 6 am.