New Delhi: A decision to announce an extended lockdown of the state amid the alarming spike in COVID-19 cases is likely to emerge from Maharashtra’s all-party meeting called by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday, April 10. The extended lockdown is likely to be announced for a period of eight to 14 days, and the decision is likely in two days.
The state is already under weekend lockdown from 8 pm on Friday, April 9, to 7 am on Monday, April 12. Section 144 has also been imposed prohibiting the assembly of five or more people.
According to various reports, the chief minister is likely to secure the backing of opposition parties including the BJP, MNS, and Samajwadi Party, among others. The state on Friday reported 58,993 new cases of coronavirus, which pushed its overall tally to 32,88,540, while the death of 301 patients took the toll to 57,329, the state health department said.
With the fear of another lockdown, a number of migrant workers from Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra have already made their way out of the state. According to The Times of India, the traffic on highways and toll gates has gone up, with groups of migrants heading back home in personal vehicles, hired auto-rickshaws, tractors, among others.
Enough hints of extended lockdown have already been dropped by cabinet ministers. While relief and rehabilitation minister, Vijay Wadettiwar, has already said that the state would need to lockdown for at least three weeks to curb the spike, health minister, Rajesh Tope, spoke of a 15-day lockdown across the state to stem the rising infections.
“We would need a complete lockdown for 15 days to three weeks even though I am not in favour of that immediately. If hospitals are overwhelmed and if there is a shortage of medicines and if the government is unable to cope with the growing number of patients, then such a step can be taken,” Tope was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
According to various Marathi news sources, the chief minister said, “A decision [regarding extended lockdown] will be taken in the next two days. All party members and experts are of the opinion that lockdown is inevitable. After taking stock of the situation, lockdown is likely to be announced for eight or fourteen days.”
The chief minister, however, has assured that due consideration will be taken of the marginalised to ensure that they do not suffer.
“We will have to ensure that those living on the margins are not adversely impacted. Coronavirus has impacted everyone alike. While taking any decisions, the government will have to take everyone into consideration equally,” he tweeted.
Note: This copy has been updated with the chief minister’s version.