Maharashtra Minister Chhagan Bhujbal tests positive for COVID-19

Senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Maharashtra Food and Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbal is the latest among the State’s top politicos to test positive for Covid-19.

After a rapid antigen test conducted on Mr. Bhujbal had returned positive, the same result was seen in the RT-PCR test. According to sources, he has been moved to Mumbai for further treatment.

“I have tested positive for Covid-19. All those who have come in contact with me in the last three days should get themselves tested. My health is fine and there is no reason to worry. All citizens must take proper care in the backdrop of rising Covid-19 cases. They should wear masks and use sanitisers regularly,” tweeted Mr. Bhujbal, who is also the Guardian Minister of Nashik.

Mr. Bhujbal is the fifth minister in the Uddhav Thackeray-led ‘Maha Vikas Agahdi’ government to test positive for the virus in less than a week.

Last week, Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil, Health Minister Rajesh Tope, Food and Drug Administration Minister Rajendra Shingne and Minister of State for Water Resources Bacchu Kadu all tested positive. NCP leader Eknath Khadse and his daughter-in-law, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Raksha Khadse, too tested positive.

Mr. Bhujbal had attended a slew of programmes and social gatherings in the last three days, including the wedding function of Deolali MLA Saroj Ahire which also saw the attendance of both NCP chief Sharad Pawar and his nephew, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar.

Meanwhile, NCP president Sharad Pawar has cancelled all his public programmes till March 1 in the wake of the alarming spike in cases across the State. In a bid to add weight to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s announcement on Sunday urging all citizens to behave responsibly, Mr. Pawar, along with his daughter, Baramati MP Supriya Sule, as well as his grand-nephew, Karjat-Jamkhed MLA Rohit Pawar, have all cancelled their public engagements in the coming week.

While Nashik district has a robust recovery rate of 96.64%, Nashik city remains a virus hotbed with more than 250-300 cases being reported each day.

Meanwhile, with cases mounting in Nagpur district, Guardian Minister Nitin Raut has announced that all schools, colleges and weekly bazaars are to remain closed as a precautionary measure till March 7, while all political, social and cultural programmes are to be cancelled.

“While Nagpur is not under any lockdown as yet, there will be strict enforcement of rules henceforth,” said Dr. Raut, who is also the State Energy Minister and a senior Congress leader.

On Sunday, Dr. Raut had announced that he was cancelling his son’s wedding reception owing to the uptick in cases in the district.

Districts in Vidarbha, notably Nagpur and Amravati, have seen a massive rise in cases in the last week with both districts reporting 750-800 cases daily during this period.

As Amravati commenced its week-long lockdown starting today, Amravati Municipal Commissioner Prashant Rode informed that 12 containment zones had been formed and that cases were emerging from almost 60% of the city.

“We have appealed to citizens to desist from congregating in crowded places. We are focusing on keeping the mortality rate down and we are getting an encouraging response from the public thus far,” Mr. Rode said.

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