‘Break the chain’ not working? Despite curbs, Maharashtra continues to report 50-60,000 daily COVID cases



MUMBAI: Over three weeks have passed since the Maharashtra government imposed strict restrictions to check the spread of coronavirus but the daily average of cases is still over 50,000 which is a matter of concern, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Saturday.

Citing the Union government, Tope said COVID-19 cases have dipped in 12 out of the total 36 districts in Maharashtra, but in some other districts, the cases are on a higher side.

The lockdown-like curbs announced by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray came into effect on April 14 that included the ban on inter-city as well as inter-district travel and the closure of non-essential services in the state.

These measures, including the weekend restrictions on the movement of people, were later extended till May 15.

The state government had allowed groceries, vegetable shops and dairies to remain open only for four hours, between 7 am and 11 am from Monday to Friday and banned home delivery after 8 pm till May 1.

“The government had introduced lockdown-like measures but the average number of daily cases is still hovering between 50,000 and 60,000. The positivity rate, which is the key factor in deciding the (extent of) outbreak of the pandemic, is still on a higher side,” Tope told reporters.

The health minister said the government will review the situation and decide on whether to extend these lockdown-like measures or not.

“The state government is stressing on tracking, tracing and treating COVID-19 patients to curb the outbreak,” he added.

As of May 7, Maharashtra’s COVID-19 tally stood at 49,96,758 while the overall death toll is 74,413.

The state had tested 2,89,30,580 samples so far, the health department had said.

Meanwhile, district authorities in Amravati, Akola and Yavatmal in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region said stricter COVID-19 restrictions will come into force from Sunday.

These ‘break the chain’ curbs will start at noon on Sunday and will be in place till May 15, officials said.

As per an order issued by Amravati Collector Shailesh Naval on Saturday, grocery shops, dairies, eateries, bars, vegetable and fruit vending outlets, bakeries etc will remain shut during the period but will be allowed to undertake home delivery between 7am and 11am, The order also curbs movement of people except for emergency and essential purposes.

It also directs schools, colleges, parks, swimming pools, tuition classes, theatres, saloons, spas, beauty parlour, parks, playing fields etc to remain shut, though online classes will be allowed.

An official said the order exempts private and public hospitals and clinics, medical stores, animal husbandry clinics and eye-wear shops from the curbs.

“All government and semi government offices will remain shut, except those engaged in essential services. Petrol pumps too have been told to sell fuel only to those vehicles which are out for valid reasons. Banks and post offices will function between 10 am and 2pm during this period,” he said.

Similar orders were issued by Akola Collector Jitendra Papalkar and Collector Amol Yedge in Yavatmal.

The authorities in Solapur too have announced stricter restrictions for a week in the city as well as other parts of the district.

As part of the fresh curbs, which will come into effect from 8 pm on Saturday, shops selling essential commodities, such as milk, groceries, vegetables and fruits, will remain closed and only home delivery of these items will be permitted, officials said.

As per the earlier guidelines, shops selling essentials were allowed to operate from 7 am to 11 am in the district.

The restrictions will remain in place in Solapur city and other parts of the district till May 15, officials said.

“In view of the rise in COVID-19 cases, a decision was taken to make the lockdown stricter in the district. As per the new restrictions, shops selling essential commodities will remain shut, and only home delivery of these items will be permitted from 7 am to 11 am,” Solapur district collector Milind Shambharkar said.

As section 144 of the CrPC is already imposed in the district, the movement of the people is not allowed except for valid reasons, he said.

All the essential services, such as hospitals, medicals, diagnostics services, vaccination centres, insurance offices, pet shops, animal care centres, veterinary clinics, banks and all other services, which are related to healthcare will remain open, he added.

“Shops selling agriculture-related products are allowed to remain open till 11 am,” the official said.

According to him, hotels and restaurants are closed, but home delivery of food items has been permitted.

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