Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday extended the lockdown in the state by 15 days, saying coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases are rising in some districts, especially the rural areas. At the same time, he acknowledged that daily cases in Maharashtra have gone down significantly over last few days.
But, Thackeray added that the number of cases is still near the peak of the first wave. “The drop in Covid-19 cases is still not as expected,” he said.
The chief minister said that more curbs will be imposed in some districts, while relaxation will be given in zones where Covid-19 cases are not increasing at alarming rate.
“We are unwillingly extending the lockdown. We are ramping up the health infrastructure. The unlocking will be done in graded manner,” said Thackeray.
The current state-wide lockdown, which was imposed on April 22, was scheduled to end on June 1 at 7am.
He also appealed to the political parties to not pressurise the state government for unlocking certain activities.
“Lockdown has helped us in containing the spread of the virus. Each one of us need to decide to keep our village, tehsil and district free from Covid-19,” the chief minister said.
“The recovery rate and case fatality rate (CFR) is better than that of the peak of the first wave. But the transmission rate of the strain in the second wave is rapid. The time taken for the recovery is more than that in the first wave,” Thackeray a.
The chief minister also said that the state government has constituted a task force of paediatric doctors as part of preparedness of the potential third wave of Covid-19.
During the address, he also talked about Cyclone Tauktae, which wreaked havoc on India’s western coast, leaving trail of destruction in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Thackeray said the cyclonic storm intensified the state government’s challenge of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. He also listed the steps taken by the state government in view of the cyclonic storm.
“While fighting Covid-19 pandemic, we distributed 2.74 lakh metric tonnes of food grain, disbursed ₹155 crore to construction worker and ₹34.42 lakh to domestic workers,” the chief minister said.
Currently, people can’t step out unless they need medical attention, or are working in an essential sector, or want to buy essential commodities, and that too only between 7am and 11am.
It was widely expected that the state government will extend the lockdown due to the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases in about a dozen districts. State health minister Rajesh Tope too had said there was no chance of lifting the lockdown.
The districts with high weekly average positivity rate include Sindhudurga, Ratnagiri, Kolhapur, Buldhana, Satara, Sangli, Osmanabad, Amravati and Beed.
Maharashtra is among the six states which have more than one lakh active cases of Covid-19, according to Union health ministry. While Karnataka has the highest number of active cases, Maharashtra is at number 2.
On Sunday, Maharashtra recorded 18,600 fresh cases of Covid-19. This is the lowest daily tally of infection since March 16, when the state recorded 17,864 cases of Covid-19 in 24 hours.