Full lockdown in Maharashtra looming? Uddhav meets task force, state says decision after April 14

The CM once again underlined the need to break the coronavirus transmission chain by imposing a lockdown and said a standard operating procedure (SoP) will be prepared after holding consultations.
Marine Drive sea front is seen deserted during weekend lockdown in Mumbai. (Photo | AP)
Marine Drive sea front is seen deserted during weekend lockdown in Mumbai. (Photo | AP)

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackerayon Sunday discussed setting up of oxygen generation plants, upgrading the number of beds and other medical facilities, besides availability of Remdesivir injections in a meeting held with members of the state COVID-19 task force.

He once again underlined the need to break the coronavirus transmission chain by imposing a lockdown and said a standard operating procedure (SoP) will be prepared after holding consultations.

Thackeray said he will once again request Prime Minister Narendra Modi to provide additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Maharashtra.

He also called for expediting the vaccination process and completing vaccination of all health workers in the state, the Chief Minister's Office said in a statement.

The CM said asymptomatic people are spreading coronavirus among the rest.

"Unnecessarily negligent people are putting the lives of others to risk. There is a need to break the virus chain by imposing a lockdown. A standard operating procedure (SoP) will be prepared after consultations," he said.

Thackeray stressed that strict restrictions are needed for some time in the state.

Members of the task force demanded that additional oxygen be procured from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka that have good oxygen stock.

The meeting also discussed how to stop the "irrational use" of Remdesivir drug, which is in high demand for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The task force members observed that 95 per cent of the patients can get proper treatment in home quarantineand that only serious patients should get hospital beds in the state, the statement said.

The members suggested that housing societies set up isolation roomswith oxygen concentrators temporarily.

Experts also suggested management of hospital beds by local bodies and that doctors take a call on admitting patients in hospitals after making patients take a six-minute walk test.

They also suggested proper management of oxygen and a heavy penalty for the people not wearing a face mask in public.

Experts also suggested that third-year MBBS and AYUSH doctors be asked to join the COVID duty.

Maharashtra Health Secretary Pradip Vyas said 4 lakh new cases were reported in the state between April 4 and April 10, while 1,982 patients died, it said.

Maharashtra's case positivity rate is 26 per cent at present, he said and attributed the higher positivity rate to increased testing.

On Saturday, the state conducted a total of 2.6 lakh tests including one lakh antigen tests.

Currently, 75 per cent of the total 20,250 ICU beds and 40 per cent of the 67,000 oxygen beds remained occupied in Maharashtra.

No beds are available for patients in 11 to 12 districts, the meeting was told.

In Nandurbar, a railway bogie has been converted into an isolation facility, Vyas informed.

An appropriate decision regarding imposing a lockdown in Maharashtra will be taken after April 14, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Sunday.

He was speaking to reporters after a virtual meeting of the COVID-19 task force chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to discuss measures, including imposition of a lockdown in the state, to break the virus chain.

"Duration of the lockdown and how to handle its economic fallout was discussed during today's meeting. The task force is of the view that the prevailing coronavirus situation in the state is such that a lockdown is required," the minister said.

A tweet from the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said, "In a meeting with the State Task Force, the chief minister discussed the availability of oxygen & beds, use of Remdesivir, treatment protocols, increase in capacity of facilities, imposition of restrictions & fines for violating COVID protocols."

Medical Education Minister Amit Deshmukh, state Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte and others took part in the meeting.

Thackeray is scheduled to hold consultations with the finance and other state departments on Monday and discussion will also take place in the cabinet meeting later this week.

Tope also said that setting up of an oxygen generation plant in the state was also discussed during the task force meeting.

Thackeray had on Saturday indicated the imposition of a strict lockdown in the state given the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases.

He had held an all-party meeting held virtually to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the state.

Last Sunday, the state government had announced a slew of restrictions, including a weekend lockdown, night curfew and prohibitory orders for the day time.

These restrictions will continue till April 30.

Meanwhile, thirty patients had to be shifted from a COVID care centre in Thane city to a nearby hospital as the stock of medical oxygen was getting exhausted, a civic official said on Sunday.

The move to shift the patients from Thane Municipal Corporation's Parking Plaza COVID care centre to Global Hospital on Saturday evening was taken to avoid inconvenience and disruption in treatment, he added.

In a release, the TMC said fresh oxygen supply to the centre was expected within a day, but, as a precautionary measure, new admissions have been stopped for the moment.

The TMC on Sunday appointed deputy municipal commissioner (Tax) Ashwini Waghmale as officer in charge to coordinate the purchase, storage and distribution of medical oxygen gas and Remdesivir injections, a release by civic spokesperson Sandeep Malavali said.

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