The Maharashtra chief minister also warned that if the situation remains the same, healthcare facilities will start getting overburdened in 15-20 days
Cautioning against a serious shortage of healthcare infrastructure, including staff like doctors and nurses, to tackle the surge in COVID-19 cases, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said that the state government is on the verge of announcing a lockdown to curb the spread of infection.
“I cannot rule out imposing a lockdown if the current COVID-19 situation prevails. People have become complacent. In a couple of days, strict restrictions will be issued to curb COVID-19 . If the number of cases keeps increasing, there could be a shortage of healthcare infrastructure in the next 15-20 days,” he said in an address to the people on Friday evening.
Thackeray’s address comes on a day that Maharashtra recorded 47,827 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily count since the coronavirus pandemic began in 2020.
The new figure took the state tally of positive cases to 29,04,076, the state government said. As many as 202 coronavirus patients died in the state on Friday, taking the death toll to 55,379.
In his speech, Thackeray also addressed criticism against the state’s testing and vaccination numbers and said that Maharashtra’s testing capacity has grown by a large margin since the pandemic first broke out last year.
“In the coming days, we aim to conduct 2.5 lakh RT-PCR tests daily,” he said. He added that Maharashtra was the only state that had administered three lakh doses of vaccine on Thursday.
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“Till now, we have administered 65 lakh COVID-19 vaccine doses, including three lakh vaccine doses yesterday. Even after vaccination, some people are getting infected because they stop wearing masks,” he added.
Comparing the pandemic and the current wave of infections to a “storm” and the vaccine to an “umbrella”, Thakeray said that vaccination is not the final solution. “This umbrella (vaccine) will keep us safe from the rain, but currently we are facing a storm (pandemic). We need to ensure adherence to COVID-19 protocol like wearing masks, maintaining distance, and washing hands,” Thackeray said.
Thcakeray warns of shortage in healthcare infrastructure
Seeking to emphasise the seriousness of the situation, Thackeray spoke about the pandemic in terms of numbers. He said that Mumbai alone had seen a jump in daily COVID-19 cases from 300 to 8,500 cases in one month.
“If the situation remains the same, healthcare facilities will start getting overburdened in 15-20 days. In some districts, hospitals are almost full,” he said.
He also spoke about the criticism from “some parties” without naming them. “Some people are indulging in politics over the matter. They are saying that the government must increase the healthcare facilities and capacity. I have given instructions on these lines, but can they tell me how to increase the healthcare staff? From where to get doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, ASHA workers, etc?” he questioned.
Addressing whether the government plans to impose a lockdown, Thackeray spoke about the task of keeping the economy running and also working to curb the COVID-19 cases.
However, he said that the government will do “whatever it takes” to bring the pandemic under control, “even if he is labelled a villain”.
“Whether to save lives or jobs is the question. Jobs we will get back and economy we can build again, but we can’t afford to lose lives,” he said.
He also appealed to Opposition parties not to indulge in politics over the pandemic, and in conclusion, said that the government is “pointing in direction of lockdown, but not announcing one yet”.
Pune imposes 12-hour curfew for a week as COVID cases cross 8,000
Meanwhile, the Pune district administration Friday announced stringent measures to curb the rise of infection.
Eateries, bars and restaurants in Pune will remain shut for seven days from Saturday in view of a substantial rise in coronavirus cases of late, PTI reported.
A curfew will be in place across the district from 6 pm to 6 am, and malls, cinema halls and places of religious worship will also be shut during this seven-day period.
The administration introduced these “stricter restrictions” in the district, which reported more than 8,000 COVID-19 cases in the past two consecutive days. The decision to impose these curbs was taken during a review meeting chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in Pune on Friday.
“These new restrictions will be applicable for the next seven days from Saturday. As part of it, there will be a curfew from 6 pm to 6 am. Eateries, bars and restaurants will remain closed, but home delivery of the food will continue, “Pune divisional commissioner Saurabh Rao said.
“Malls, cinema halls will remain shut for seven days from Saturday. All religious places will also be closed for a week,” he said.
Except for weddings and last rite rituals, all other public gatherings have been banned in the district. For weddings, only 50 people will be allowed and only 20 people can remain present for the last rites, he added.
He said that essential services have been exempted from 6 pm to 6 am curfew.
With inputs from PTI
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