Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday ruled out a complete lockdown in the state, saying the existing restrictions had been effective in controlling the coronavirus situation, PTI reported. “I don’t think we will reach that stage,” he said in a televised address.
The chief minister added that Maharashtra would have been in a far worse situation, seeing nine to ten lakh active coronavirus cases, had his government not imposed timely restrictions to contain the spread of the disease in the state, which is the worst-affected in the country.
Cases in the state have registered a steady drop over the past week, especially in the capital city of Mumbai. On Friday, Maharashtra registered 62,919 new cases and 828 deaths, while Mumbai logged 3,925 infections.
“The latest restrictions helped contain the daily spike in coronavirus cases and active cases have now stabilised at around 6.5 lakh,” Thackeray said, adding that his state will fight the coronavirus wave “like we did last year”.
Talking about the ferocious second wave of Covid-19 in the country, Thackeray said, “The entire world is facing several waves of Covid-19 and the situation in Maharashtra will be no different.”
He added, “Strict lockdown like last year, is required but we don’t feel that such a time will come [this time],” according to The Indian Express.
The chief minister, however, did admit that the state’s healthcare system was struggling to keep up with the surge in infections. “We are ramping up the health infrastructure but where should we bring doctors and nurses from?” he asked, according to the Hindustan Times.
He said the state was also facing an oxygen crisis just like other parts of the country. “We are facing a shortage of oxygen as we are using around 1700 metric tonnes while we produce only around 1200 metric tonnes,” Thackeray added. “Around 500 metric tonnes of oxygen has been allocated by the Centre.”
As the country geared up to begin vaccinating its adult population, Thackeray said he felt the Centre should allow states to create their own online platforms to help people register and schedule their slots for vaccination.
He said he had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting either to create separate applications for states or to allow them to create their own apps, which would be linked to CoWin. “This will help streamline the registration process and stop crowding at vaccination centres,” Thackeray said.
The chief minister added that the state needed 12 crore doses of vaccines for its six crore population in the age group of 18 to 44. He said state was ready to buy the entire stock in one go. “But the vaccine stock is limited,” he added. “Only a few firms are manufacturing the doses in our country but we are in talks with other firms. However, we will be getting only 18 lakh doses for the age group in May.”
Thackeray said vaccine doses for the 18-44 age group will be administered as per the availability of doses. “Register and then go to take the vaccine, otherwise I fear the centres may become Covid-spreaders,” he told residents of the state.