The Maharashtra government on 18 February announced several new Covid -19 guidelines including lockdowns across various regions in the state in an attempt to curb the new surge of cases of infection.
A 10-day lockdown was announced in Yavatmal and a weekend lockdown was imposed in Amravati. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) released a set of fresh Covid-19 guidelines for capital Mumbai.
Both Amravati and Yavatmal are situated in Vidarbha, a region which has been reporting a steady rise in Covid-19 cases since the start of February.
The measures coincided with Maharashtra reporting 5,427 new Covid-19 cases, a daily tally not seen in more than two months.
Concerned by the growing number of coronavirus cases, the administration in eastern Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district ordered a ten-day lockdown from 17 February night.
The administration in Yavatmal district ordered curbs on gatherings and also the closure of schools (which had reopened for select classes) for ten days.
Schools (for students from Classes 5 to 9), colleges, and coaching classes in Yavatmal district will remain closed till February 28, while only 50 persons will be permitted at weddings, Yavatmal collector DM Singh said.
Religious places will remain open but Covid-19 protocols will be strictly implemented, he said.
Hotels and restaurants will be allowed to operate between 8 AM to 9.30 PM, while markets and shops will remain open till 8 PM, Singh said.
Yavatmal collector Singh said the number of Covid-19 cases in the district had been increasing since February 1.
Almost 80% to 90% of new cases were being reported from Yavatmal, Pandharkawda and Pusad cities, he said.
Yavatmal district recorded 131 fresh Covid-19 cases during the day.
A weekend lockdown was announced in Amravati district, from 8 PM on Saturday to 7 AM on Monday, a period during which markets and other establishments will remain shut, but essential services will remain unaffected.
Amravati Collector Shailesh Naval said on weekdays, all establishments in the district, including hotels and restaurants would stay open only till 8 PM (from earlier 10 PM).
Naval said during the weekend lockdown all markets and other establishments will remain shut. “Swimming pools and indoor games, too, will remain closed, while only five people will be allowed at religious ceremonies,” Naval said.
According to the government, Amravati reported 542 fresh Covid-19 fresh cases, on 17 February.
BMC issues fresh guidelines for Mumbai
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on 17 February issued fresh Covid-19 guidelines for Mumbai as the city witnesses a renewed surge in virus cases.
The civic body has decided to register offences against people who violate safety guidelines.
The civic body has intensified action against people found without masks in public and will take action against function halls, gymnasiums and other establishments that don’t follow safety norms.
The permissible limit of guests at function halls is 50, while restaurants are allowed to operate with 50% occupancy at any given time.
BMC commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal ordered the deployment of additional marshals on suburban trains and directed to ramp up testing in high positivity areas.
The civic body has decided to resume stamping of the hands of people who are placed under home quarantine, and in case of violation, an offence will be registered against them.
Similar action will be taken against those who flout the rules at weddings and other social gatherings in the city and BMC teams will raid event venues.
Apart from this, the civic body said a seven-day institutional quarantine is mandatory for travellers arriving at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport from Brazil, where a new strain of the virus has been found.
Buildings with more than five Covid-19 patients will be sealed, the BMC has decided.
Moreover, teachers from BMC schools will be deployed at all buildings, offices and hospitals managed by the civic body with powers to take punitive action against those roaming without masks.
Maharashtra health minister test Covid positive
Meanwhile, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope took to Twitter late 17 February to inform that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Tweeting in Marathi, Rajesh Tope said, “I have tested positive for coronavirus. I am in good health and consulting a doctor. With the blessings of all of you, I will soon be in your service after defeating Covid-19.”
Rajesh Tope advised those who had come in his contact in the past few days to get themselves tested for the infection.
Speaking to reporters before the meeting, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar noted that, till January-end, the number of Covid-19 patients discharged from hospitals post recovery was higher, while the number of positive patients reported in the entire state was less.
But from February 1, the positive cases started increasing in different areas (of the state). In Amravati division, it is more evident, Pawar said.