The lockdown in several areas of Maharashtra, including Mumbai and Pune, may extend beyond April 15, when the 21-day nationwide lockdown is scheduled to end.
Speaking to media persons, Maharashtra Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Monday hinted that even if the nationwide lockdown ends, areas like Mumbai and Pune – which have seen maximum coronavirus cases – may continue to remain in lockdown.
“There is a protocol for relaxing the lockdown and it will be followed. Also, the Union government issues advisories to states. Those will be studied and then a decision will be taken,” he told reporters.
The minister stated that the final decision will be taken after reviewing the situation between April 10-14 and assessing the number of infected persons in the state.
“We need to work with great care in Mumbai and Pune as the number of COVID-19 cases is higher in these regions. So, nobody should assume that the lockdown will be relaxed completely from April 15,” Tope said.
The minister did not give any time frame for the extension, but noted that it may last for a “few weeks”.
Maharashtra has reported 891 coronavirus cases and 52 related fatalities as of Tuesday morning. Of these, nearly 700 cases are from Mumbai and Pune alone.
Given the steep rise in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, the state is mulling over multiple options, which include either extending the lockdown throughout the state or only in areas worst-hit by the virus.
Additionally, by the second week of April, several people would have completed their 14-day quarantine. A status report of their health will allow the state to take a better-informed decision.
Meanwhile, the movement of goods and other services, along with essential services, will continue uninterrupted throughout the state irrespective of whether the lockdown is lifted.
However, the decision to restart public transport or allow private establishments to open will be taken at a later date.
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