Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said that the state needs more time to prepare for incoming domestic flights during a surge in the number of coronavirus cases, ANI reported. Thackeray said that he has spoken to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri regarding the same.

“Today [Sunday] morning, I spoke to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and requested him to give us some time to prepare for domestic flights,” Thackeray was quoted as saying by the news agency during an online press briefing.

The Maharashtra chief minister added that the lockdown may not be lifted by the end of the month and the government had to be more cautious. “We can’t say that lockdown will be over by 31st May,” Thackeray added. “We will have to see how to go forward.”

Thackeray warned people that the fight against the coronavirus would only become more difficult. “The fight is going to intensify as the virus multiplies, but there is nothing to be scared of,” he said according to Mumbai Mirror. “We are adding to our healthcare capacity. Field hospitals are being set up and intensive care beds are being added there.”

With over 47,000 cases of the coronavirus and 1,577 deaths, Maharashtra is India’s worst hit state. Mumbai alone has reported more than 28,000 cases.

The Maharashtra government had opposed the Centre’s decision to resume domestic flight operations from Monday. West Bengal and Tamil Nadu had also expressed concerns over restarting passenger flights. Tamil Nadu has more than 15,000 coronavirus cases, the second highest in the country.

Domestic flights in the country, suspended since March, will resume on May 25. On Sunday, the Centre released guidelines for all domestic travellers, including thermal screening and institutional quarantine for symptomatic people. The government also introduced a set of guidelines for people coming to India from foreign countries during the lockdown, though it has not announced when international flights will resume.

India on Sunday recorded 6,767 new coronavirus cases – the biggest single-day rise in numbers so far. The total number of cases in the country reached 1,31,868 and the toll rose to 3,867 after 147 more deaths.

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