Even with Maharashtra recording 32.21 per cent of the national Covid cases, a complete lockdown is unlikely after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackrey expressed economic concerns over it. Nevertheless, more restrictions and curbs on public movement is on its way and will be implemented by April 1.
State officials said that local trains will continue to operate and economic activities will have a lesser impact than a lockdown as public places like malls, restaurants, offices will have to witness strict protocol to main social distance and rule out overcrowding, reported the Indian Express. Offices will be asked to function with 50 per cent employee capacity.
Maharashtra has witnessed more than 6 lakhs cases and more than 2,000 deaths in the last month since the cases started to surge. On Monday, the state reported 31, 643 fresh Covid-19 cases and 102 deaths. The worst-hit is Mumbai with 5,890 new cases on Monday followed by Pune with close to 5,000 cases and Nagpur more than 3, 000 cases. The active Covid caseload in the state is now 3.36 lakh.
CM Thackrey on Sunday mentioned that the Relief and Rehabilitation department will come up with an SOP for a possible lockdown what was worried about its economic effects as well. Another meeting with the department and the health department is scheduled for Tuesday.
According to Assem Gupta, the secretary of the Relief and Rehabilitation department measures will be announced to restrict movement in few days and if that is not enough, harsher measures will come to play but the state in no way will create a situation like the migrant labourer crisis last year. People who violate norms will be penalized though.
Expecting cases to peak by mid-April after which they will start declining, Gupta mentioned that the curbs will be in place till then. Lockdown will be implemented as the last recourse only if all the measures fail in controlling the spread of Covid infection.
Vinita Singhal, secretary, labour department also affirmed that all construction-related work, factories will continue to function but public transport will be staggered to minimize crowding. A complete lockdown is under review but will not be implemented immediately as the department wants to curbs to work. Migrant labourers do not need to worry about returning home, she assured.
Health Minister Rajesh Tope and Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, however, is in the favour of a complete lockdown to control the surge of cases. Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas said that he was not expecting the growth rate to be as high as it is now, forcing them to consider a lockdown.
Four districts, Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Nagpur accounted for 60 per cent of the active cases in the state, informed the health secretary. The health officials found the contagious double mutant virus responsible for the surge in infections.
Secretary Vyas also highlighted the dearth of Covid beds, ventilators, ICUs that the hospitals can face in the coming days if the trend continues. Currently, there are 60, 349 beds out of which 12, 701 are occupied while 9, 030 have ventilators and 1881 of them are in use. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has decided to utilise all small private nursing homes as Covid care facilities.
The health department also expressed concern over rising cases in districts like Nashik, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Pune where health infrastructure is not at par to manage the surge. . The State Covid Task Force has advised district authorities to designate micro containment zones, ramp up vaccination process and improve contact tracing and institutional quarantine.