Dropped guard behind ‘alarming’ COVID situation in Maharashtra: Minister

Maharashtra Health Minister, Rajesh Tope has warned that strict measures and stiffer penalties will be imposed in the state if people fail to follow rules

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has said the government is on a 'war footing' to increase the number of beds in the state

Calling the COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra as “alarming”, the state health minister Rajesh Tope has warned that strict measures have to be taken, including a lockdown in some districts if required and higher penalties, to ensure adherence to rules.

Blaming people for lowering their guard and not taking the “gravity” of the situation seriously, Tope also admitted that there has been some “complacency” on the part of the government as well, reported NDTV.

“People are taking it for granted. There is no gravity in people’s minds. There was a bit of complacency in the government machinery, too, in adhering to rules,” Tope said.

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Also read: Full list of COVID restrictions in Maharashtra

Talking to NDTV, Tope said the government may consider imposing stricter measures, even a lockdown if required in some districts, after discussion with authorities. Fearing that the situation is reaching an alarming stage, the health minister said the government has empowered the districts (administrations) to decide on lockdowns.

It is also mulling over increasing the penalty for non-adherence to rules to ensure people do not spread the virus.

Maharashtra leads among the six states, which are reporting a surge in new COVID-19 cases. These six states, which include Kerala, Karnataka, Punjab, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu cumulatively account for 86.25 per cent of the new coronavirus cases reported in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said on Monday, media reports said.

Maharashtra however has reported a maximum of 11,141 fresh cases in a single day, accounting for 59.90 per cent of the total new cases recorded. Overall, nearly 22.2 lakh people in the state have been infected by coronavirus since the outbreak in India in January 2020.

Thirty-eight deaths have been recorded in the state in the past 24 hours, which is the highest in the country. And, also the state has the highest weekly positivity rate with 11.13%. The financial capital of India remains the most affected among all the other states in this pandemic.

A number of districts across Maharashtra have in recent weeks imposed night curfew and shut down schools and colleges in the wake of this revival in the disease. Aurangabad district on Sunday ordered night restrictions from 9 pm to 6 am from March 11 to April 4, to contain the virus spread, along with a full lockdown on weekends.

Also read: Lockdown announced in Maharashtra’s Amravati for a week, curfew in Pune

While Hingoli district was placed under a curfew on March 1, a day after it registered 51 new cases of Covid-19. The curbs will remain till March 17, authorities have informed. Pune too has similar restrictions and these curbs have been extended till March 14.

The Centre has recently rushed high-level public health teams to Maharashtra and Punjab, to assist in containment measures.

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