The Centre is “very worried” about the upsurge in coronavirus cases in Maharashtra, NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul said on Thursday, adding the virus cannot be taken for granted if the country has to remain Covid-free. The remark comes on a day when the Maharashtra government announced a week-long lockdown – from March 15 to March 21 – in Nagpur, which reported over 1800 cases in 24 hours.
“As we were reaching here for this press conference, we learned that there is a strict lockdown being imposed in Nagpur. So, we are reaching a situation where those approaches are being brought back,” Dr Paul said.
“We are very worried about Maharashtra. This is a serious matter. This has two lessons – don’t take the virus for granted, and if we have to remain Covid-free, then, we need to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour,” he added.
The Union Health Ministry today said eight of the 10 cities with the highest number of active cases belong to Maharashtra. They are – Pune, Nagpur, Thane, Mumbai, Amravati, Jalgaon, Nashik and Aurangabad.
Maharashtra, the worst-hit state in the country, today reported 13,659 daily coronavirus cases, which is 60 percent of the country’s single-day total.
Balram Bhargava, chief, Indian Council For Medical Research, on being asked whether mutants could be the underlying cause behind the surge, said, “The surge in Maharashtra is definitely not connected to mutants. It is due to large gatherings and lack of Covid appropriate behaviour.”
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has warned that more districts may face lockdown.
“Some areas of Maharashtra will witness strict lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus infection. The government is going to hold a special meeting with officials before coming out with the lockdown measures,” he said.
Testing of close contacts, fast contact-tracing, mass testing in hot-spots and audit of deaths are some of the measures the state government is taking to stem the growth of the virus.
Six states – Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Karnataka, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu – have been reporting over 85 percent of total cases, the Health Ministry said today.
“Today, Maharashtra has more than 1 lakh active cases. Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana are at the tipping point. We have had three meetings with these states where they have been told to pull up their socks,” a senior health ministry official said.
With inputs from ANI