Updated: April 3, 2021 4:37:53 pm
On a day Maharashtra reported 47,827 new Covid-19 cases, the highest since the pandemic began last year, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday stopped short of announcing a lockdown, but warned that the decision may have to be taken after two days following consultations with experts and political leaders.
The total caseload of the state now stands at 29.04 lakh, of which 3.89 lakh are active cases. Active cases have nearly tripled from 1.3 lakh on March 15.
With 202 patients dying on Friday, the state’s case fatality ratio has reached 1.91 per cent.
Mumbai also recorded its highest number of cases since the pandemic began, reporting 8,884 cases on Friday, taking the city’s caseload to 4.32 lakh. Among these, 57,687 are active cases.
In a public address streamed live on social media, Thackeray warned that if the number of cases continued to rise at the current rate, the state would fall short of medical personnel even if health infrastructure could be expanded.
CM Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray’s address to state today;
I got several calls today asking me if a lockdown will be imposed from midnight.
Firstly, I am not here to scare you. I am going to lay the present situation in front of you.
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) April 2, 2021
He said that restrictions have to be imposed to prevent crowding. He attacked political opponents for threatening protests against lockdown, saying they should be helping the administration tackle the crisis instead.
“Today, I am warning about complete lockdown but not announcing it. I will speak to experts and political leaders in the next two days. If there is no other option to a lockdown, we will have to accept it,” Thackeray said.
He added that the question before the government was how to break the chain of infection.
“Some strict restrictions will have to be imposed in the coming days. In cities, we will need to avoid unnecessary crowding. In Mumbai, there is crowding during peak and non-peak hours in trains. There is crowding in restaurants and in other places as well.”
Thackeray also attacked political parties and an industrialist – he did not name anyone – who has spoken against the lockdown in the last few days and suggested that instead, the government should upgrade health infrastructure.
“Those saying they will take to the streets must come out on the streets. But they should do so not against the lockdown but to avoid the lockdown, to help the doctors, to support the families who have lost their breadwinner, to serve the infected and to help the administration that is fighting against the virus,” he said.
Stating that he will upgrade health infrastructure, the CM asked his critics to make arrangements for 50 doctors and nurses daily. “I urge all political leaders not to play politics with the lives of the people. The government is taking initiatives for the safety of the people, to restart economic activities and save jobs. But at the same time, we need to save lives,” he said while seeking cooperation from political leaders and leaders of religious communities.
Giving details of the health infrastructure in the state, Thackeray said that there are 2.2 lakh isolation beds, of which 62 per cent are full; 20,519 ICU beds, of which 48 per cent are occupied; 62,000 oxygen beds, of which 25 per cent are full and of the 9,347 ventilators, 25 per cent are in use.
“This situation is very worrying. If the situation remains the same, there will be a shortage of health infrastructure in the next 15 to 20 days. I have given orders to upgrade health infrastructure wherever required. We will be able to increase the number of beds, ventilators and others. But how can we increase the number of doctors, nurses and health workers?” he asked.
“Yesterday, we vaccinated three lakh people and till Thursday, 65 lakh people have been vaccinated. We have the capacity to vaccinate 6 lakh to 7 lakh people daily. It will be done when the supply of vaccine is increased,” he added.
Thackeray further said that the government is not hiding a single Covid-19 case. “Even if the situation in Maharashtra is shocking, we are putting the truth before the people. Some people tell me to look at other states… elections were held in Bihar and are going on in West Bengal, but there is no rise in cases. I don’t want to talk about it. I love my Maharashtra and its people,” he said, adding that he is ready to be labelled a “villain” for people’s safety.
While talking about the measures taken in the US and UK, Thackeray also said that France, Belgium, Ireland and others have gone for lockdown to break the chain.