Maharashtra on Saturday became the third state after Odisha and Punjab to extend the lockdown to slow down the spread of coronavirus till April 30. With 1,574 cases of coronavirus and 110 deaths, Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in India.
The decision came shortly after the chief ministers of all states spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about measures to combat the pandemic and whether to extend the 21-day nationwide lockdown beyond April 14. Though there has been no official word from the Centre, the chief ministers of several states hinted that Modi has agreed to extend the lockdown.
After announcing the decision in a live webcast, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray urged residents to not panic. “The lockdown will continue till April 30,” he said. “Instructions about examinations in schools, universities, allowing industries to be operational, will be given soon. I request you to not panic.”
Thackeray said there was no other option left. He said that while restrictions would be eased in certain areas in the state, they will become stricter in others, PTI reported.
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The chief minister urged people to strictly follow social distancing rules. “This [the lockdown] will go on till at least April 30,” Thackeray added. “I am stressing on the word at least because it all depends on our social discipline and not crowding areas like markets.”
Thackeray said that unified efforts will help India beat the coronavirus pandemic. “The atmosphere and unity shown in the PM’s video-conferences will not just help us triumph over the coronavirus pandemic, but also emerge as a global superpower,” he said. “After all, even America has to source medicines from us!”
In Mumbai, the pandemic has infected nearly 1,200 people and killed 75 people as of Saturday evening. On Wednesday, municipal authorities made wearing protective masks mandatory in the city.
The number of coronavirus cases in India has risen to 7,529 and 242 people have died, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.