Maharashtra braces for second ‘war’ to combat Covid contagion

Mumbai, Feb 18 (IANS) Unnerved by the zooming numbers of Covid cases in several parts of Maharashtra, the state government on Thursday announced a series of harsh measures for Mumbai, as well as the Akola, Yavatmal and Amravati districts to curb the contagion.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar and other top officials discussed the developing grim situation in the state and issued directions to implement the stern measures immediately.

As cases suddenly spiked in the Mumbai city and suburbs, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner I.S. Chahal announced a series of stringent measures, surveillance and reviewed the bed strength of the jumbo field hospitals set up last year.

The civic chief has ordered that if more than 5 cases are detected in any building, it will be sealed and all under home quarantine would be stamped on the hand by the BMC staff.

Chahal made it clear that the city administration would ruthlessly go after those persons who are not following the Covid-19 protocols and SOPs.

A day after Mayor Kishori Pednekar said that 60 per cent of the train commuters don’t wear face-masks, the BMC has decided to deploy 300 marshals in local trains to catch and penalise such errant citizens.

The BMC will also focus on wedding halls, gymkhanas, gymnasiums, clubs, restaurants, cinemas, public gardens, playgrounds, malls and even private offices to ensure people strictly adhere to the norms.

Besides Mumbai, the other target areas are Akola, Yavatmal and Amravati – the last two reportedly having new virus strains which are yet to be confirmed officially.

The Collectors of Akola, Yavatmal and Amravati have been directed to declare areas with high incidence of Covid-19 cases in their jurisdictions as “containment zones”.

These include the Amravati Municipal Corporation and Achalpur town, Yavatmal town, Pusad and Pandharkawada, and Akola Municipal Corporation, Murtizapur and Akot towns.

In Aurangabad, students from Class 5 to 10, who started classes last month, have been again exempted from attending schools for the time being, and in several areas, some form of public restrictions are being implemented.

As per the state Public Health Department figures, during the week February 8-14, the spike in cases in Amravati was 10.69 per cent followed by Wardha (4.62 per cent), Akola (4.27 per cent), Yavatmal (3.96 per cent) and Buldhana (2.28 per cent).

“The Collectors have been authorized to take decisions depending on the local prevalent situation in their districts,” Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab told the media.

“We have ordered that the 3-T formula – tracing, testing and treatment – be implemented strictly and effectively. Testing must be increased, but people also must follow the Covid-19 guideines scrupulously,” said Health Minister Rajesh Tope.

Labour Minister & Guardian Minster of Akola Bachhu Kadu lamented that people have become “careless” in the past few months after the lockdown measures started easing and they taking the contagion lightly.

Women & Child Development Minister & Guardian Minister of Amravati Yashomati Thakur admitted that people are not seriously following the Covid norms and protocols and appealed to them to be extra-vigilant.

The latest precautions came close on the heels of the visit by a Central health team to the state which recommended hiking up the number of Covid-19 tests in the state even as a simultaneous vaccination drive is underway.

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