Maharashtra Covid-19 situation very worrying, says Centre as lockdowns return
By Poulomi Ghosh
The Union health ministry on Thursday expressed concern over the steady rise in the number of daily Covid-19 infections in Maharashtra as well as the rest of the country. "We are very worried about Maharashtra — across several districts. We have seen their names. As we came here, we came to know that very strict lockdown is being imposed in Nagpur in particularly. So we are reaching a situation where those approaches are being brought back. This is a very serious issue for us," Niti Aayog member (health) VK Paul said.
Paul said that two lessons can be learnt from the sudden rise. "One, don't take the virus for granted. It can come up unexpectedly. We still don't know part of its dynamics. It also tells us that if we want to remain free from this virus, we need to adhere to all Covid-19 appropriate guidelines. This also includes vaccination," Paul said suggesting that vaccination in areas that are emerging as hotspots should be intensified or prioritised.
Pune, Nagpur, Thane, Mumbai, Amravati, Jalgaon, Nashik, Aurangabad, Bengaluru Urban, Ernakulam are the 10 districts with the highest number of active Covid-19 cases, the ministry said. "Out of these 10 districts, eight are in Maharashtra. There is a rise in active cases, which had declined as low as 1.35 lakh on February 12," health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.
"On September 18, 2020, the country had more than 10 lakh active cases. From 10 lakh we came down in January and further in February and now the graph is rising again," Bhushan said.
Maharashtra, Punjab are the states where active cases have gone up astronomically, the health secretary said excluding Kerala, West Bengal from the bracket as the number of active cases dipped in these states in the past few days. Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana are at the tipping point. They are yet to "decline to a surge", the secretary said.
Maharashtra has been witnessing a sharp spike in the number of fresh Covid-19 cases since mid-February. Districts like Amravati, Pune, Jalgaon imposed local restrictions to contain the spread of the infection. On Thursday, the Nagpur administration announced a strict lockdown from March 15 to 21, during which only essential services will be allowed. All private offices will remain closed and government offices will work at 25 per cent capacity.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has not been in favour of lockdown so far but the CM on Thursday said strict lockdown measures will be enforced in some parts of the state.