COVID-19: Three Maharashtra cities likely to face stricter curbs

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COVID-19-MAHARASHTRA
A health worker checks the temperature of a passenger at Bandra train station in Mumbai.

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government may impose a stricter lockdown in Yavatmal, Amravati and Akola cities of the state’s Vidarbha region “at any moment” in view of the COVID-19 situation there, government sources said on Thursday.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and his deputy Ajit Pawar discussed the issue on Thursday morning and the step is likely to be taken accordingly, according to the sources.

Talking to reporters here, Pawar said Thackeray has convened a meeting in the afternoon to discuss the situation and what decision is to be taken in connection with these cities.

Of late, Maharashtra has been witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The state reported 4,787 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest one-day count this year.

Among the districts, Amravati reported the highest rise in a day, from 82 cases on Tuesday to 230 cases on Wednesday.

The Akola Municipal Corporation, which reported 67 cases under its areas on Tuesday, recorded 105 cases on Wednesday, an official earlier said.

“The government may impose a stricter lockdown at any moment in Yavatmal, Amravati and Akola cities. The chief minister and deputy CM Pawar discussed the issue in the morning,” a source said.

A (government) doctor was sent to Amravati for taking stock of the situation and he has given a telephonic report about the situation there. Accordingly, the decision is expected, the source said.

Pawar said, “In the meeting (convened by the CM), we will discuss what decision is to be taken, whether the decision will be limited only to the three cities or should we also consider the rural areas (for imposing stricter curbs).” The deputy chief minister noted that till January-end, the number of COVID-19 patients discharged from hospitals after recovery was higher, while the number of positive patients reported in the entire state was less.

“But from February 1, positive cases started increasing in different areas (of the state). It is more evident in the Amravati division,” Pawar said.

In view of the recent spurt in cases, Chief Minister Thackeray on Tuesday warned that if COVID-19 norms are not followed, people should be prepared for a fresh round of strict lockdown.

The government last month extended the coronavirus- induced lockdown in the state till February 28, even as a lot of restrictions have been eased in the last few months.

The government’s guidelines to operationalise ‘Mission Begin Again’ for easing of restrictions and phase-wise opening will remain in force till February 28, it had said.