MAHARASHTRA Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday gave a clear warning that unless people strictly to COVID-19 protocols, they should be prepared for another bout of lockdown in view of the increasing cases in the State. For starters, he has ordered all authorities concerned to ban public processions, rallies, meetings and gatherings to avoid overcrowding, besides mandatory wearing of face masks in public. Thackeray also announced that the ‘Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Aarogya Yojana’ (MJPJAY) scheme is being extended for another two months in the State to treat COVID-19 patients at State expense.
The CM’s stringent directives came in a high-level review meeting of the COVID-19 status in the State in which Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Health Minister Rajesh Tope, Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar, all Divisional Commissioners, Collectors, police and health officers, and members of COVID-19 Task Force and others took part. Expressing serious concern at the renewed spread of COVID-19, the CM asked the administration strictly enforce all the SOPs for coronavirus control with penal measures against those violating the norms. “Avoid overcrowding. Use face-masks, follow all protocols while in public events, gatherings, weddings, etc… It is up to you. Otherwise, be prepared for another lockdown,” Thackeray said without mincing words. Reviewing the situation district-wise, the CM said that the falling incidence of corona cases had resulted in laxity among the citizens, and they were not following the protocols but urged the administration not to become lax.
Besides, Thackeray directed that contingency zones should be set up in areas where the number of patients is increasing, a structural audit of the jumbo field hospitals be undertaken, and local bodies must disinfect all public places, toilets, bus stands, parks, etc. Other measures were also directed including performing COVID-19 tests in target areas, identifying at least 20 contacts of individual patients, and creating a health map of the State through the ‘My Family, My Responsibility’ initiative.
The authorities will also discuss with all business organizations and associations whether the SOPs are being followed and ensure their implementation, police permission would be needed for marriages, banquet/hall owners would be booked if they allowed anybody without masks, etc. Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari said that the threat of COVID-19 has not gone fully and called upon people to exercise utmost vigil since nobody knows for how long the scourge will last. In a grim observation, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar rued that barely 60 per cent of suburban train commuters were not wearing face-masks, posing a risk of further spread of COVID-19 in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, as indicated by the sudden spurt in fresh cases. “Let us not push ourselves to another lockdown. It’s the people who must take the case We should not go back to square one,” she appealed.