Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said that strict restrictions would be implemented in the State in the coming days, adding he did not want to impose a lockdown on the people but would be left with no option if COVID-19 cases continued to rise in the present manner.
“I have been getting calls enquiring whether a lockdown would be imposed in the State. I am only warning today; I am not announcing anything. I will be watching for the next two to three days and discussing with various stakeholders. I will announce strict restrictions in the coming few days. We have to stop this wave and ensure there is no third wave. It is not a one-way process; both sides have to work hard. I expect cooperation like last year,” said Mr. Thackeray, in his address to the State.
Mr. Thackeray’s speech indicated that the State is set to come under a lockdown from the coming week as he presented the examples of foreign countries, including France, Brazil and the United Kingdom, where strict measures like lockdown were taken to control the spread of novel coronavirus.
“I don’t want a lockdown. But can all those who are advising me to not call for a lockdown suggest me a way to control the number of patients? Lockdown will hamper the economy, employment. But saving lives is the utmost priority for me. Employment is not going anywhere,” he said.
He said that the State would increase the number of people getting vaccinations. “A total of 65 lakh people have been vaccinated and on Thursday, three lakh citizens received the jab. We look forward to increase this number to 6-7 lakh and I am sure the Centre will grant our request,” he said.
Mr. Thackeray slammed the political parties who are opposing the lockdown and threatening to hit the streets. “Of course, I welcome them to hit the streets. But they should come out to save lives, to help health professionals with testing, and to create social awareness,” he said.
Taking a dig at Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, without naming him, for his refusal to wear a mask, the CM asked what sort of bravery was this and what was being achieved through it?
Mr. Thackeray said people were getting infected irrespective of being vaccinated. “Vaccine is merely an umbrella in a storm. We have to follow each and every health norm even after getting COVID-19 jab. There is no effective mode to stop the spread of the virus,” he said.
About the additions to the State’s health infrastructure, the CM said from a few thousand beds, the number had reached 3.75 lakh beds in one month. “But if this trend continues, we may face shortage of beds in 15-20 days,” he said.
The State is conducting 1.82 lakh tests, of which 70% are RT-PCR, every day, and plans to increase the number to 2.50 lakh.