Other States

Coronavirus | Uddhav defers lockdown plan

A new 350-bed facility set up at Thakkar Dome in Nashik, Maharashtra.   | Photo Credit: PTI

With Maharashtra on the verge of a lockdown, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday held a crucial meeting with the COVID task force of doctors and other municipal authorities as the State continued to reel under unprecedented case spikes.

While no conclusive decision over a lockdown was taken, State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said a decision could be taken over the next two-three days.

Also read: Coronavirus | Amid lockdown talk, migrant movement spikes on Mumbai-Agra road in Indore

The two-hour meeting with doctors and senior municipal authorities focussed on the availability of oxygen and beds in hospitals, the use of remdesivir, treatment protocols, ways to enhance the capacity of facilities and the imposition of restrictions and fines for violating COVID-19 norms.

“In today’s meeting, the task force has acknowledged that a situation warranting a lockdown has been created in the State. Issues like the duration of the possible lockdown, management of medical facilities and hospitals, enhancement of medical infrastructure to cope with rising cases were discussed… The Chief Minister may take a decision on or after April 14 after the Cabinet meeting later in the week,” Mr. Tope said.

Principal Secretary Health Pradeep Vyas said a staggering four lakh cases had been reported across the State in just a week between April 4-10 which saw 1,982 deaths.

“The positivity rate is 26% and the more tests we do, the higher the positivity rate. At present, 75% of the 20,250 ICU beds are filled and 40% of the 67,000 oxygen beds are full. Beds are not available in about 11 to 12 districts,” Mr. Vyas said.

Yet another series of meetings are expected to take place over the next two days, including a discussion with the Finance Department, said sources, adding that Mr. Thackeray’s meeting with Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar and Finance Department Secretaries on Monday would be regarding provision of relief packages in the event of a lockdown.

With the State reporting staggering daily average case surges of over 50,000, some doctors in the course of the two-hour videoconferencing are believed to have recommended a 14-day lockdown.

Doctors discussed ways to address the acute oxygen supply bedevilling several hospitals and the legions of complaints of remdesivir shortage emanating from all over Maharashtra.

Mr. Tope said a master plan to deal with a lockdown situation was in readiness.

“Regarding the problems over remdesivir and patients being charged excess, I had a meeting with the managing directors of seven companies. They have promised to double remdesivir production in the next 10-15 days besides bringing down costs from ₹4,000 to ₹1,100-1,200 per injection.”

He also said 100% oxygen would henceforth be used only for medical purposes and that companies would directly supply oxygen to civil hospitals, thereby eliminating distributors and retailers.

Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte said 980 metric tonnes of 1,200 metric tonnes of oxygen is being used for medical purposes and that this capacity would be increased in the next few days. He also said efforts were on in coordination with the Centre on how to transport oxygen by talking to other States and negotiating transport rates across the country.

Senior Shiv Sena leader Neelam Gorhe, who is Deputy Chairman of the Council, has requested Mr. Thackeray to give a three-day breathing period before announcing any lockdown and provide subsistence subsidy to workers and labourers.

“After the lockdown last year, countless workers became unemployed. They also were marooned at the time of the announcement, and several had to walk home due to lack of transportation. So, there must be clear instructions on precautions to be taken while announcing lockdown for the unorganised sector,” said Dr. Gorhe. The breathing period will give these labourers enough time to go to the villages.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 3:37:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/coronavirus-uddhav-defers-lockdown-plan/article34296795.ece

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