With every passing day, Maharashtra is witnessing a new record with respect to Covid-19 case numbers. Looking at the increase in numbers of coronavirus patients, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackerey has directed Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte to submit a detailed lockdown plan with minimum economic impact if people don’t follow Covid norms in the state. A second lockdown is expected to be imposed from 2 or 3 April in Maharashtra for a limited period (approximately for two weeks), sources in the state government revealed, as they prepare for restrictions. The announcement is expected in a day or two. Maharashtra, which has been witnessing a huge rise in new Coronavirus cases, recorded a slight dip on Tuesday with 27,918 infections and 139 deaths in a span of 24 hours, according to the state health department. With 139 deahts due to the Covid-19 infection, the count in the state mounted to 54,422, it said. The lockdown option was discussed at a meeting CM Thackeray had with Health Minister Rajesh Tope, Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas, Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte and the Covid Task Force to consider ways to bring the surge in cases under control. Stressing that people’s health is the top priority, Thackarey asked for a detailed plan and lockdown strategy that ensures supply of essential commodities, including food grains, medicines and doesn’t hamper health services. The lockdown would be the last resort if people don’t follow Covid-19 norms. “The situation in Mumbai and Maharashtra is pretty grave; we are seeing a fastspreading strain which is more transmissible and less virulent. Recovery is fast but the healthcare infrastructure is been used very fast. Currently, 10-30 percent beds are empty, but if the healthcare infrastructure is overburdened, then the CM has advised the administration for a potential lockdown. The first strategy right now is about micro-containment, testings, aggressive contact tracing and aggressive tracking. If our healthcare infrastructure gets overburdened in the coming two weeks, as a last resort, the lockdown will be the only option. The two weeks after 15 April will be a make-orbreak time for the state as numbers are exponentially growing up. Empty beds are rapidly filling up as the rate of growth of cases is high,” Dr Shashank Joshi, member of the Covid Task Force, told The Sunday Guardian. The task force has expressed concern and in view of the increasing current trend, there could be immense pressure on ventilators, oxygen beds, and ICUs in the coming days. Considering the rising Covid cases, the CM has asked the administration to ensure adequate availability of medicines, healthcare, essential services and civil supplies. An additional 2,269 Covid beds, including 360 ICU beds in private hospitals, will be made available with immediate effect. An additional 1,500 beds will be operationalised in jumbo Covid centres. However, allotment of beds will only take place through the 24 Ward War Rooms. The state has witnessed an all-time high of over 40,000 cases. Overall, the state has 3.57 lakh isolation beds of which 30% or 1.07 lakh are occupied. Of the 60,349 oxygen beds, 12,701 are occupied, and 1,881 of the 9,030 ventilators are currently functional.
After the crucial meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackerey, the relief and rehabilitation department has started to frame the SOPs for a lockdown. Also, the state authorities are introspecting to reduce the timings of the shops, cutting down Best services and asking the railways to strictly implement crowd management. The suburban/long distance trains and public transport buses will be given strict guidelines to follow. Testing at railway stations and airports will be intensified. The manufacturing sector will be allowed to operate at full-scale, but not without adhering to Covid-19 protocols. It was decided that patients should be kept in institutional quarantine/isolation instead of home quarantine. Oxygen production would be increased and supply chains taken to the places where they are needed; more ventilators to be bought and the number of intensive care units increased. Private doctors will be roped in to enhance trained frontline workforce. The order stated that employees with co-morbidities will be encouraged to work from home.
Some state leaders have, however, expressed concerns about the government’s decision to enforce lockdown. Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said that a complete lockdown will devastate the economy of Maharashtra. Raut said that he had asked Thackeray to impose targeted restrictions rather than issuing complete stay-at-home orders. Most Cabinet members are against a lockdown. In the first lockdown people suffered, a large number lost their jobs and the economy collapsed, said NCP leader and state minister Nawab Malik. State BJP President Chandrakant Patil also said that lockdown is not a solution for the rise in Covid cases. Patil said the BJP will protest on the streets if lockdown is imposed.
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SURAT TEACHERS ORDERED TO REGISTER COVID DEAD BODIES
Surat Corporation has gone too far in handing over the responsibility of Covid-19 management to its employees. Teachers have been assigned Covid-19 work. They are given the task of registering the bodies coming for the funeral. Teachers, along with SMC (Surat Municipal Corporation) employees, will also be on duty in three shifts of eight hours each. It’s teachers responsibility to ensure that there is no disruption in the registration of the bodies coming to the crematorium.
During the pandemic, all SMC employees were assigned different tasks, in which the teachers were asked to be outside the homes of the infected Covid patients.
There were orders to go with Dhanvanri Rath to carry out survey work, and distribute food grains, which were performed by the teachers as part of their duty amid such a difficult situation in the city.
At that time, the teachers who were assigned to the operation of the cemetery have been put in a dilemma.
A teacher, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “The process of registering a body in a cemetery is not appropriate for us.. We made a presentation for our Teachers’ Union last night on this matter. We were given a message about this operation through social media. The Union has informed our appointees to cancel this order. Union officials have also vowed to inform the Municipal Commissioner and the State government about handing over the work to teachers.”
UTTARAKHAND CM RAWAT CONFIDENT TO CONDUCT HARIDWAR KUMBH MELA SAFELY
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat on Friday said that the state government is determined to conduct Haridwar Kumbh Mela safely.
He inaugurated the Command and Control Room and Adarsh Barrack of the Police Surveillance System built for the Kumbh Mela, at the CCR Tower in Haridwar.
On this occasion, the Chief Minister said that the state government is fully committed to the modernization of the police.
He said, “Our government is determined to conduct Haridwar Kumbh Mela safely. 310 CCTV cameras have been installed in the area. Command and Control Room of Police Surveillance System has been set up at CCR Tower, Haridwar.”
(With ANI inputs)
CELEBRATIONS IN JAMMU AFTER THE RELEASE OF COBRA COMMANDO BY NAXALS
As soon as the news of Rakeshwar Singh Manhas’ release reached Jammu, there were celebrations not only in his village but in other adjacent villages as well. Earlier his wife Meenu had appealed to the government that her husband should be rescued from the Naxals and the Congress leaders of the Jammu region visited the family and made her talk to the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister who assured all help and action.
People in the villages adjacent to his hometown were glued to television sets and expressed their joy when he stepped out of an ambulance as shown by different media channels.
Meenu Manhas exclaimed, “This is the happiest moment in our lives. Hope never died though we were anguished for his safe return. I am thankful to the Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh and also to the Central government as everyone stood by us.”
Earlier, the relatives of Manhas and villagers protested and blocked the traffic for hours, appealing to the government to intervene and save him from the captivity of Naxals. He was posted in Chhattisgarh and was captured alive by the Naxals in a fierce gun battle in which dozens of his colleagues were killed while over 15 Naxals were also killed.
DELHI SCHOOLS TO REMAIN SHUT FOR ALL CLASSES AMID COVID SURGE: KEJRIWAL
NEW DELHI: The Delhi government on Friday announced that all schools will be shut given the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the national capital.
“Due to increasing cases of COVID-19, all schools, government and private, in Delhi are being closed for all classes till further orders,” the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted. Schools have been shut ever since the pandemic broke out last year but for those from Classes 9 to 12 had resumed their classes. The board examinations for Class 10 and Class 12 are slated for May-June.
Several other states and Union territories have also closed down schools and colleges to curb the surging infections.
Delhi on Thursday reported 7,437 fresh cases and 24 related deaths over the last 24 hours. As per the daily health bulletin, the total positive cases in the city now stand at 6,98,005, including 23,181 active cases and 6,63,667 recoveries. So far, 11,157 lives have been claimed by the infectious virus.
Covid chaos in Gujarat, waiting list in hospitals, cemeteries & crematoria
The state of Covid-19 spread in Ahmedabad seems frightening. The scenario in various cemeteries and crematoria of the city is bad with people waiting for hours for the burial and cremation of the dead bodies.
A total of eight bodies were brought to a cemetery in Vadaj cemetery in the city for burial around the same time. There is also a two-hour wait for the funeral at Thaltej. Both chimneys are currently in operation at the city’s Vadaj crematorium, where relatives of the deceased have been seen waiting.
There are no vacant beds in hospitals because of the surge in Covid-19 cases. As the number of patients keeps on increasing, the beds are getting filled. In some hospitals there is no stock of injections and while at other hospitals videos of missing oxygen are emerging. Extremely heart-rending videos surfaced on Friday at the Vadaj Cemetery in Ahmedabad, where eight bodies were being prepared for burial while many others were waiting in the cemetery. Similar is the case with Thaltej cemetery in Ahmedabad.
As a result of the worsening situation due to Covid-19 in Gujarat, relatives have to wait in hospitals for as long as 12 hours to get the body of the deceased in cities like Rajkot and Surat. Not only that, even after getting the dead body, they have to wait for 8 to 10 hours for cremation. Worse, the rising death toll at Rajkot Civil Hospital is waiting not only for cremation but also for ambulances to take the dead bodies to the cemetery.
In the Nagarwada area of Vadodara, a 65-year-old man died of Covid-19 and his body had to be taken in a handcart as the ambulance was not available to take him to the crematorium.
ALL-PARTY MEET TO DISCUSS LOCKDOWN IN MAHARASHTRA
State reports 58,993 Covid cases and 301 deaths in 24 hours.
In view of the alarming spike in Covid-19 cases in the state, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has called an all-party meeting on 10 April. The government will take stock of the Covid-19 situation in the state.
The meeting will be attended by prominent leaders of the three parties involved in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, leaders of BJP, MNS, API, SP, and others.
On Friday, State Disaster Management Minister Vijay Wadettiwar said that he has proposed a complete lockdown in the state, during a virtual meeting earlier in the day, given the continued spike in Covid-19 cases and upcoming festivals. While speaking to India Today, the Minister said that it was crucial to close all shops and establishments to break the chain of the pandemic.
“Every day we are witnessing 50,000 to 60,000 cases. We have 5.31 lakh active cases today. If the upsurge continues like this, we will have over 10 lakh active cases soon,” the Disaster Management Minister said to India Today. “If we have to break the chain, it’s not possible keeping half the shops and establishments open. In the virtual conference that took place today, I have suggested a strict lockdown of three weeks to break the chain,” the Minister said.
Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Pravin Darekar said the decision to organise the all-party meeting was taken this afternoon.
“This decision was taken during the meeting held today to decide the postponement of MPSC exams scheduled for Sunday,” he said.
When asked about the weekend lockdown that comes into force from Friday night, Darekar said the state government should decide on financially supporting small businesses.
Maharashtra Chief Minister will brief all parties regarding the covid situation. Maharashtra is planning a complete three weeks lockdown.
Maharashtra on Friday reported 58,993 coronavirus cases and 301 deaths in 24 hours amid a second wave of infections. Pune, with 10,084 Covid cases, was the worst-affected district today, followed by Mumbai with 9,200 single-day infections.
After the new additions, the total of active cases has reached 5,34,603. The state had reported 56,286 cases and 376 deaths on Thursday.
With Agency Inputs
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