Maharashtra lockdown? Uddhav Thackeray likely to announce decision today

a bridge over a body of water: Maharashtra needs stricter lockdown to combat the continuous spike in the number of Covid-19 cases, the state Cabinet discussed on Tuesday. (ANI) © Provided by Hindustan Times Maharashtra needs stricter lockdown to combat the continuous spike in the number of Covid-19 cases, the state Cabinet discussed on Tuesday. (ANI)

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is likely to announce whether the state needs to be placed under a strict lockdown — in his address scheduled after 8pm on Wednesday, Maharashtra ministers have confirmed. On Tuesday, the issue of a stricter lockdown was discussed in the Cabinet where the majority was in favour of a long lockdown in the state, extending for a week or two, instead of night curfew or the imposition of Section 144.

"Tomorrow after 8 pm, the Chief Minister will announce the decision on lockdown in the state. We have requested the CM to announce a complete lockdown in the state from tomorrow at 8 pm. This was the request of all ministers to the chief minister. Now it is his decision," Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said.

Maharashtra urban development minister Eknath Shinde said there is no way out other than a complete lockdown as the health infrastructure of the state is under severe strain. "We have demanded complete lockdown in today's cabinet meeting. The cases are increasing. There is a scarcity of oxygen. There is no way out other than a complete lockdown," Shinde said.

Food and civil supplied minister Chhagan Bhujbal said, "We have made all the efforts to minimise the Covid-19 figures. He will announce the decision (to impose lockdown) tomorrow after finalising a detailed Standard Operating Procedure."

Covid-19 situation in Maharashtra

On Tuesday, Maharashtra reported 62,907 fresh Covid-19 cases and 519 deaths. Out of 519 deaths, over 200 were from last week and before, but was added to the toll on Tuesday, the health department clarified. The number of active cases in the state stands at 6,83,856.

Why stricter lockdown?

Since February, the state is seeing a sharp spike in the number of fresh cases. Restrictions in the forms of district lockdown, local lockdown, night curfew, were put in place since the last week of February. In April, the state has been brought under Section 144, which bars the gathering of more than four people. All shops except those dealing with essential items have also been closed. But an official lockdown has not been announced in the state. The need for an official lockdown is being felt as people are still flouting the existing restrictions.

The state cabinet has also cancelled class 10 exams.

Lockdown last resort?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on Tuesday said lockdown should be the last resort to combat the present situation and more focus should be given to creating micro-containment zones.

Since February, Maharashtra has been averting a complete lockdown but, as Cabinet ministers have emphasised, stricter restrictions seem to be the need of the hour in the state.

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Maharashtra lockdown? Uddhav Thackeray likely to announce decision today