Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Monday said that the coronavirus situation in the state was “alarming”, reported NDTV. Tope’s remarks came as the state has been witnessing a spike in Covid-19 cases, with 11,141 new infections recorded in 24 hours on Sunday evening. The single-day count was the highest in nearly five months since October 16, when it recorded 11,447 cases.
“The situation is alarming,” Tope told NDTV. “We have to take strict measures...lockdowns can be imposed if required for some districts. We have empowered the districts [administrations] to decide on lockdowns. People need to adhere to rules. We can increase the penalty for non-adherence.”
The Maharashtra health minister also admitted that “complacency in the government machinery” was also responsible for the worsening Covid-19 situation.
On Sunday night, the state’s tally went up to 22,19,727, while the toll stood at 52,478, after 38 new fatalities were recorded. Mumbai reported 1,360 new cases and five deaths, according to its civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. The city also recorded the sharpest single-day rise in cases since October 28 when it had reported 1,354 cases in one day.
Meanwhile, authorities in Aurangabad on Sunday announced a partial lockdown from March 11 to April 4. District Collector Sunil Chavan also said that Aurangabad will observe a complete lockdown on weekends. During the partial lockdown, malls and weekly markets will be shut, weddings and public functions disallowed and restaurants will have to be closed at 9 pm.
On Sunday, the state Cabinet held a meeting, led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, to discuss various aspects to tackle the rising number of cases. Meanwhile, the Centre has deputed high-level teams comprising public health experts to two states of particular concern – Maharashtra and Punjab – to assist local governments in surveillance, control and containment measures.
Another central team that had visited Maharashtra on March 1 and 2 has said that the lack of fear of the pandemic among people, recent local body elections and crowded public transport were among the many factors that may have contributed to the surge in cases. This team visited Nagpur, Yavatmal, Amaravati, Khamli and Dev Nagar on the first day and Pune, Mumbai and Thane on the second day.
India on Monday registered 18,599 new coronavirus cases, pushing the country’s tally to 1,12,29,398, data from the health ministry showed. This was marginally lower than the 18,711 infections recorded on Sunday. The toll jumped by 97 to 1,57,853.
The health ministry said that Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu were reporting a surge in daily infections. These six states accounted for 86.25% of the new cases reported in the last day.