Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Saturday the state government had decided, after consulting the Union health ministry and the state Covid taskforce, not to impose a fresh lockdown but introduce additional restrictions to curb gatherings to control virus transmission.
“The government does not want to stop the economic cycle but there should be no lethargy in following health norms. The infection needs to be curtailed at the earliest, otherwise it could put a huge strain on our healthcare system. We don’t want to lock down anything. Laws and regulations alone will not be able to tackle such challenges, but it is up to every citizen to combat the virus by adhering to all norms,” Thackeray said.
He also announced that he had issued directions to agencies, including police, to take strict action against those breaking the rules. Thackeray had held marathon meetings on Friday with the taskforce, public health and other departments to decide on additional measures to control crowding and to effectively curb the virus spread.
“As I have seen for the last two years, the state government has, from time to time made and enforced regulations through its ‘Break the Chain’ and ‘Mission Begin Again’. The majority of citizens are eager to follow the rules for health and do so but the problem arises due to the attitude of a handful of people who do not follow the rules and act irresponsibly. It won’t work anymore. Rules must be followed; all agencies and police have been directed to take strict action against the culprits,” said Thackeray.
“There is no denying that the health system is under stress today. If the number of patients increases at the current rate, the demand for oxygen may also increase as a large number of patients with symptoms or unvaccinated patients will have to be hospitalised. In many places today, our doctors, nurses, and frontline medical professionals are themselves reeling under the attack of the virus, which is a warning to everybody,” he said. He added that the government has strengthened the health infrastructure in the last two years. “But if doctors get sick, where will new manpower come from?” he asked.
Thackeray said the government has announced the closure of schools and colleges. He urged the youths not to wander around unnecessarily, thinking of the present period as a holiday and become spreaders in the process.
Thackeray made a strong case for vaccination and urged those who had yet to be vaccinated or complete the process to do so have not got vaccine shots to get themselves fully vaccinate on a priority basis. “The severity of the virus or the mortality due to Omicron is low because of vaccination and the habit of constantly wearing masks and keeping safe distance,” he noted.
However, he warned that in some districts where not enough numbers of people were vaccinated, the number of patients were likely to increase and t hospital admissions likely to surge. “Therefore, the government has the option of tightening restrictions in such districts,” he said.
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