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Monday, April 12, 2021

Maharashtra red flag up, Nagpur first city to see 2nd lockdown; Centre sends alert to surge states

The lockdown in Nagpur is for one week, between March 15 and March 21. Some essential activities, including a few industries, are partially exempt.

By: Express News Service | Nagpur, New Delhi, Pune |
March 12, 2021 4:30:18 am
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Amidst a sharp spike in coronavirus cases in Maharashtra, Nagpur on Thursday became the first city in nine months to return to a state of complete lockdown. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray warned that such a step could be taken in other cities of the state as well.

In New Delhi, NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul described Maharashtra as a “significant worry”, and asked other states, especially those that are showing signs of resurgence including Delhi, not to take the virus “for granted”.

The lockdown in Nagpur is for one week, between March 15 and March 21. Some essential activities, including a few industries, are partially exempt.

“Nagpur has been witnessing an increase in Covid patients. Hence, it has been decided that all the areas under the jurisdiction of Nagpur Police Commissionerate will be under total lockdown between March 15 and 21,” Maharashtra Energy Minister Nitin Raut said in Nagpur on Thursday.

“Except for 25 per cent attendance in government offices and industries, all other establishments and non-essential shops will remain closed for the period and police have been directed to ensure strict curfew in these areas,” he said.

The last time a city was put under total lockdown was in June last year, when Chennai and three neighbouring districts had used this measure to curb the rise in cases. Restrictions had progressively been eased everywhere across the country after that.

The decision to impose a lockdown came on a day Nagpur reported 2,150 new cases of coronavirus infections, the highest in five months. Maharashtra, which is in the midst of a big surge, recorded 14,317 new cases, the most since October 3.

“There are states we have significant worry about. We are worried about Maharashtra. A strict lockdown is being imposed in Nagpur. It is a serious matter. It (the situation in Maharashtra) has two lessons for us – one, don’t take the virus for granted, and second, if we have to remain free of this virus, it is very important that containment, Covid-19 appropriate behaviour, as well vaccination has to be brought into facing this pandemic,” Dr Paul said.

“I also want to bring in here a word of caution for Delhi and the neighbourhood – that it is seeing a rise in positivity. Be careful and watchful. We still have a huge population at risk. This pandemic is not yet over and we cannot lower our guard,” he said.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the Centre had told other states showing signs of a resurgence to enhance their efforts to contain the spread.

“Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Haryana are the states which we think are at a tipping point. They have still to decline into a surge. However, looking at early signs of an increase in numbers, we have had three meetings where the states have been told to pull up the socks, increase the number of tests, surveillance and containment areas,” Bhushan said.

He said Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal were among the states that were witnessing a decline in infections. Kerala had witnessed the most prominent decline over the last one month. On Thursday, the state had 35,715 active cases, down from 64,607 on February 11.

Pointing out that eight of the 10 districts showing the biggest surge were from Maharashtra, Bhushan said the Centre had urged states to increase their vaccination coverage for priority groups, particularly in the most affected districts. He said the vaccination rate could be stepped up due to the involvement of the private sector.

“Acceleration has been achieved with the active collaboration of private sector facilities. If we look at the 2.5 crore doses administered in the country, to date, 71 per cent have been administered in public health facilities and 29 per cent have been contributed by private facilities,” Bhushan said.

Six big states where private sector participation was lower than the national average were West Bengal (13.8 per cent), Bihar (16.46 per cent), Andhra Pradesh (18.54 per cent), Rajasthan (18.81 per cent), Assam (20.21 per cent), Odisha (20.91 per cent) and Gujarat (24.96 per cent), Bhushan said.

“These are the states we have requested that the participation of the private sector needs to be scaled up,” Bhushan said.

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