MUMBAI: Panic-stricken people in Maharashtra fearing a complete lockdown from Wednesday have started hoarding groceries. State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said a cabinet meeting was due on April 14 where Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray would take a final call on lockdown.
Most shops in the state, including those dealing in essential supplies, were shut in the weekend. These shops reopened on Monday amid a rush of people, who stocked up on groceries for the next few days, fearing lockdown.
Even villagers were seen buying things in bulk.
“There is a mad rush. People think that the government may announce a week-long lockdown, which can be extended till month-end. If Covid cases do not decline, the lockdown could be extended even further. That’s why the rush,” said a shopkeeper. The rush of people was also seen at the Agriculture Produce & Market Committee (Vashi).
“People are buying all items, not for a week, but for three months. It is difficult to control the crowd and maintain social distancing. The lockdown panic has made the middle class worried,” Sanjay Pansare, a trader at Vashi APMC.
Many major roads in the city were jammed as people came in their vehicles to buy a large number of items.
Maharashtra on Monday postponed Class X and XII Board exams as the state recorded 63,294 new infections on Sunday.
“Given the current Covid-19 situation in Maharashtra, we’ve postponed state board exams for class 10th & 12th. The present circumstances are not conducive for holding exams. Your health is our priority,” state Minister of School Education Varsha Gaikwad.
Meanwhile, Mumbai civic body the BMC stated that it will operationalize 1,100 additional DCHC/DCH COVID beds including 125 ICUs in the next seven days.
Any patient calling the ward war room for a Covid bed between 11 pm and 7 am will be referred to a particular jumbo field hospital.
On arrival at a particular jumbo hospital, a suitable bed will be allotted to the patient after assessing one’s medical condition.
The passenger rush on outstation trains in Mumbai has increased since the last weekend, Railway sources said on Monday.
The Railway administration, however, attributed the passenger rush to the summer season which sees a large number of people travelling to their native places.
The sources said though the rush on outstation trains has gone up since the state government announced fresh COVID- 19 curbs earlier this month, the weekend saw a steady flow of passengers on long-distance trains originating from different stations in the metropolis.
Speculation is rife about the Maharashtra government mulling a "complete lockdown" to curb the current surge in COVID-19 cases, which registered an all-time high spike of 63,294 infections on Sunday.
A Central Railway staffer deputed at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) said since the last couple of days, the station in suburban Mumbai has registered a sharp increase in passengers coming to board trains.
"Since the last few days, trains are going full, but since the last few days there has been more rush," he said.
A senior Railway officer said the rush on outstation trains going to North India is mainly due to the summer season, when a large number of people visit their native places for marriages and other reasons.
"Panchayat elections are scheduled in Uttar Pradesh and hence many people are going for voting," he said, adding there may be some migrant labourers among the passengers, but their number is "negligible" as compared to the last year.
A Central Railway spokesperson said they are operating 12 of the 88 scheduled summer special trains for North India, apart from 18-20 regular special trains for Darbhanga, Patna, Danapur, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Manduadih, Puri, Raxaul and Guwahati among other destinations.
"The Railway administration appeals to people to avoid panic booking. The Railway runs more trains in summer for the convenience of passengers," Shivaji Sutar, chief public relations officer, Central Railway, said.
Sutar said only passengers having confirmed tickets/reservation are being permitted to board the trains.