Mumbai: Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray warned of a complete lockdown in the next two days if the Covid-19 situation in the state continues unabated. In a web address on Friday, the CM reiterated that he did not want to impose a lockdown, but the current situation demanded stricter curbs as people were nonchalantly flouting norms. He said he would discuss the issue with a cross-section of experts and announce his decision in the coming days.
“To control the rising number of cases, we will need strict restrictions, which will be announced over the next couple of days,” he noted. “Will we do a lockdown? I am not going to answer this question right now. But the possibility of lockdown has not yet ended,” he opined.
“Lots of experts have come with their suggestions. Some said they would oppose the lockdown, that a lockdown is not an option, transfer money to those who will lose jobs. An industrialist has also said that rather than lockdown, why can't the government improve health facilities. I just have one request for these people - bring me doctors, bring me people who will work at these facilities,” said Thackeray.
Citing severe restrictions in European countries like France, Hungary, Denmark, Greece, Belgium, Portugal and Ireland, the CM slammed those opposing a lockdown in Maharashtra. Without naming the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and businessman Anand Mahindra, he said that instead of opposing and staging protest rallies, their suggestions and help would be welcome. “Don't bring politics into this,” Thackeray said firmly. “If the present situation continues, hospitals will be full in the next few days. I want to request all parties to not indulge in politics, as it will be playing with people’s lives,” he added.
“People who wish to take to the streets to oppose the lockdown, please come out but not to oppose the lockdown. Come out to help those working in Covid facilities,” said the CM.
Thackeray expressed serious displeasure over crowding at public places, at weddings, social and political events and also on trains. He made a strong case for aggressively implementing crowd management, in order to curb the spread of the virus.
Thackeray also lashed out at those comparing the daily Covid cases reported in Maharashtra and other states. “We are not hiding patients, nor will we do so in the future. I don’t want to speak of how fewer cases are being reported even in the poll-bound states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, where massive crowds are seen,” he said.
Expressing concern over the rising cases, Thackeray said that looking at the current trend, the health infrastructure was severely constrained and there was likely to be a shortage of medical equipment, doctors, nurses, paramedic staff in the state in the next 15 days. “We have two lakh isolation beds (62 per cent are occupied), 20,519 ICU beds (48 per cent are occupied), over 62,000 oxygen beds (25 per cent are occupied), and 9,347 ventilators, of which 25 per cent are in use currently,” he said.
Speaking about the vaccination drive in the state, Thackeray said that Maharashtra topped the country in this regard. Over three lakh people were vaccinated in a single day on April 1, and more than 65 lakh have received the jab, he said. “The state is capable ofto increasing the number of vaccinations to 5-6 lakh per day in the future. However, the Centre must provide more vaccines,” he added.
Thackeray said there are cases in which people are tested positive after vaccination. ''Don't be under the impression that the virus will not infect you after vaccination. The infection will not be severe if vaccinated. So continue to wear masks, keep distance, avoid crowding,'' he added.
Meanwhile, Thackeray chaired a meeting with the administration to take stock of the situation and plan for implementation of stringent measures. ‘’Some of the measures, which came up for discussion, included closure of restaurants, theatres and malls. Even though there will not be a complete ban on public and private transport but some curbs can be introduced. However, if the situation further deteriorates, the government may have to go for the imposition of complete lockdown for at least 15 days excluding essential services,’’ a senior minister said.