Maharashtra on Monday became the first state in India to impose 'total lockdown' against Covid-19 as the coronavirus toll in the state reached three, here on Monday. The number of cases has reached 97, with two being critical.
Making the announcement, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said the government was compelled to invoke the 'sancharbandi' (curfew) measure as all appeals to the masses to remain indoors fell on deaf ears.
"We are enforcing 'sancharbandi' (curfew) for the entire state from midnight tonight (monday). We have reached a critical stage in the 'war against virus', but the next few days are extremely crucial," Thackeray said.
The move came a day after Thackeray declared a near-total state lockdown till March 31, and also implemented prohibitory orders at nagar panchayats to combat Covid-19, with Maharashtra notching the second highest spread in India.
Since midnight (March 22-23), the state in under a near-total lockdown with even the Mumbai suburban trains stopped as part of the Railway Ministry's directive on Sunday, besides all public transport closed in the state.
Now, extending the ban to even private vehicles, Thackeray said the bare minimum movement would be permitted for only emergencies or essential services.
Worse, all three deaths have so far occurred in Mumbai with a population of around 17 million, and a majority of the positive cases are centred in the dense Mumbai-Pune belt accounting for nearly two-thirds of the infected persons, and many are now turning out to be 'first contact' cases without any history of foreign travel.
To cope up with the growing load, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said in the next four days, all government medical colleges in the state would be equipped with testing facilities.