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Lockdown again in Nagpur, Similar Measures Likely in Some Other Parts of Maharashtra

Lockdown again in Nagpur, Similar Measures Likely in Some Other Parts of Maharashtra

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Mar 11: Even as Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu continue to report high number of COVID daily new cases, a week-long lockdown will be in force in Nagpur district from March 15 with the Maharashtra government mulling similar stringent measures in several other parts of the state as the Covid situation threatening to go out of control again in the western state apparently due to increasing economic activities.

The six states cumulatively accounted for 85.91% of the new cases reported in the past 24 hours with Maharashtra with 22,854 cases alone accounting for 60 per cent cases.

The Union health ministry also expressed concern on Thursday over the steady rise in the number of daily Covid-19 infections in Maharashtra as well as in some other parts of the country but the western state has remained the worst-hit. “We are very worried about Maharashtra — across several districts. We have seen their names. As we came here, we came to know that very strict lockdown is being imposed in Nagpur in particularly. So we are reaching a situation where those approaches are being brought back. This is a very serious issue for us,” Niti Aayog member (health) VK Paul said.

“The pandemic is not over until it’s over. We are in a position to give a strong fight against the virus as we have vaccines now. Nobody should take the virus for granted. Nobody should lower their guard,” Paul said.

On Thursday, the Nagpur administration announced a strict lockdown from March 15 to 21, during which only essential services will be allowed. All private offices will remain closed and government offices will work at 25 per cent capacity. Districts like Amravati, Pune and Jalgaon imposed local restrictions including night curfew to contain the spread of the infection.

Pune, Nagpur, Thane, Mumbai, Amravati, Jalgaon, Nashik, Aurangabad, Bengaluru Urban, Ernakulam are the 10 districts with the highest number of active Covid-19 cases, the ministry said. “Out of these 10 districts, eight are in Maharashtra. There is a rise in active cases, which had declined as low as 1.35 lakh on February 12,” health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said.

“On September 18, 2020, the country had more than 10 lakh active cases. From 10 lakh we came down in January and further in February and now the graph is rising again,” Bhushan said.

Maharashtra, Punjab are the states where active cases have gone up astronomically, the health secretary said excluding Kerala, West Bengal from the bracket as the number of active cases dipped in these states in the past few days. Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana are at the tipping point. They are yet to “decline to a surge”, the secretary said.

Maharashtra has been witnessing a sharp spike in the number of fresh Covid-19 cases since mid-February. The Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has not been in favour of lockdown so far but the CM on Thursday said strict lockdown measures might be enforced in some parts of the state.

Thackeray, who on Thursday received the first dose of vaccine at the JJ hospital in Mumbai, said lockdown would be put in some places to tackle the rise in Covid-19 cases in the state. He, however, said the situation had not yet gone out of control. “In a few days, we may have to lockdown some places. We may have to start from scratch but still the situation has not gone out of control. At some places, stringent lockdown will be imposed, decision soon,” he said after getting the shot.

The remarks come a day after Maharashtra recorded 13,659 Covid-19 cases, its first one-day spike in excess of 13,000 in 2021 and highest in 154 days. Before this, the state recorded 14,578 cases on October 8, 2020.

Maharashtra has till date recorded 2,252,057 infections. The state also recorded 54 deaths on Wednesday, taking the toll to 52,619. Mumbai, which has been recording over 1,000 cases for a week now, also recorded 1,539 cases and five deaths, taking the tally to 337,124 and toll to 11,515 deaths.

Paul said the situation of Maharashtra was worrying as part of the state is going back to strict lockdown. But Maharashtra is not the single reason for concern. “Would like to caution Delhi-NCR, Gurugram, part of Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad too some extend. These areas are seeing a slight rise in the number of cases,” Paul said adding that the pandemic is not over yet.

Paul said two lessons could be learnt from the sudden rise. “One, don’t take the virus for granted. It can come up unexpectedly. We still don’t know part of its dynamics. It also tells us that if we want to remain free from this virus, we need to adhere to all Covid-19 appropriate guidelines. This also includes vaccination,” Paul said suggesting that vaccination in areas that are emerging as hotspots should be intensified or prioritised.




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