Night curfew will be back in Maharashtra from Sunday as the state continues to register record surge in fresh cases, becoming the lead contributor in driving up the nationwide Covid-19 infection count. Maharashtra recorded 36,902 new cases on Friday, the highest single-day rise since the pandemic began, with capital Mumbai also reporting its biggest ever tally of 5,515 new cases.
In view of the alarming increase, night curfew will be imposed in the entire state from March 28. Malls will have to remain shut from 8 pm to 7 am. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray also warned of stricter restrictions if the people did not observe safety protocol.
Thackeray reviewed the situation at a meeting with divisional commissioners, district collectors, SPs and deans of medical colleges and asked officials to ensure availability of adequate hospital beds and medicines.
The other states that reported surge on Friday are Punjab, Gujarat, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh. Gujarat recorded 2,190 new cases, its highest daily rise so far, taking the total caseload to 2,96,320. The one-day spike in cases has crossed the 2,000-mark in the state for the first time since the pandemic outbreak.
Punjab also reported its highest 24-hour spike, recording 3,176 new cases on Friday, surpassing the previous record of 2,896 cases on September 17 last year. The nationwide tally saw a single-day spike of 59,118 new infections, the highest this year. Worried over the upward trend, the Union Health Ministry has rushed two high-level multi-disciplinary teams to Chhattisgarh and Chandigarh that will work with the respective governments to assist in undertaking gap analysis and recommend requisite containment measures.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the surge is being closely monitored and measures being taken to arrest the trend. The Centre is planning to widen the scope of the immunisation drive, he added. In a communication to chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla asked them to ensure strict adherence to all safety protocols, particularly in view of upcoming festivals such as Holi, Shab-e-Barat, harvesting festivals, Easter, Eid-ul-Fitr, etc.