Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has temporarily shut the offices of three cabinet ministers after a few of their staff members tested positive for Covid-19. This is the first time such important offices have been closed since the lockdown was imposed on March 22. At least six to seven members each from the offices of food and civil supplies minister Chhagan Bhujbal, energy minister Dr Nitin Raut, and higher and technical education minister Uday Samant have been found infected with the coronavirus. Bhujbal told Free Press Journal that he has been home-quarantined and would operate from there for a few days.
"Six staff members were detected Covid-19 positive and therefore the decision was taken to keep my office shut for a week. I have urged all those who came into contact with these staff members to undergo a coronavirus test," he said. Dr Raut and Samant are travelling in their respective constituencies and will function from other offices, said sources. This has happened when the progressive Covid-19 positive cases in Maharashtra have crossed 10 lakh, with more than 28,700 deaths. Ten staffers and a cook from Dr Raut’s official residence have contracted the contagious disease, while six employees from Samant’s office have caught the viral ailment.
Mantralaya, which houses the offices of the Chief Minister, his council of ministers and various departments, had been closed on April 29 and 30 for carrying out sanitisation after some emergency staff employees and drivers tested Covid-19 positive. The department offices have been functioning now with 50% attendance after the Unlock 4 guidelines came into effect from September 2. After the two-day monsoon session ended on September 8, MLAs including Devendra Bhuyar, Rahul Narvekar, Praveen Pote and Gopichand Padalkar were detected Covid positive. They are under medical observation.