Days before Maharashtra issued fresh Covid-related guidelines, including night curfew and weekend lockdown, the Centre had told the state that such measures have limited impact on containing the transmission of the infection, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday.

After Maharashtra reported 16,620 cases on March 15, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had written to Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, suggesting that the focus should be on strict and effective containment, and not imposition of a lockdown. On April 2, two days before Maharashtra imposed the new restrictions, Kunte did not discuss the measure in a meeting with the Centre’s Cabinet secretary, The Indian Express reported, quoting an unidentified government official. The Centre also told state authorities that the purpose of imposing a lockdown was to improve the health infrastructure and not break the chain of transmission.

However, Maharashtra government officials have said that the decision on weekend lockdown was taken as people were not complying with Covid-appropriate behaviour despite the increase in number of cases. The decision was also prompted by the fact that projections indicated that the health infrastructure could come under stress.

“Projection was made on two sets of parameters – number of beds and requirement of oxygen,” the Maharashtra government official told The Indian Express. “ Our experts projected that if this rise continues, in terms of beds, the system will be overwhelmed by April 17.”

Meanwhile, the Centre has formed 50 high-level multi-disciplinary public health teams and deployed them to districts across Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Punjab in view of the surge in number of cases, PTI reported. The teams have been sent to 30 districts of Maharashtra, 11 districts of Chhattisgarh and nine districts of Punjab to assist the state health department and local authorities in surveillance, control and containment measures, the Union health ministry said on Monday.

The teams will monitor the implementation of testing and other management operations, enforcement of Covid-appropriate behaviour and availability of health infrastructure. The teams will submit daily reports to three nodal officers appointed separately for each of the states, the health ministry said, according to PTI.

The deployment of the teams came after the Centre on March 30, emphasised to all states, that the surveillance teams should be trained and retrained again, and asked them to review the formation of containment zones on a daily basis, The Indian Express reported. It said that containment zones should be better defined based on contact listing, digital mapping of cases, and contacts.