A beleaguered Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, braving the opposition and public criticism of alleged corrupt practices of his allies in the state government, will be addressing the people of the state tonight at 8:30 PM. However, once Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar shared this information, news agency ANI reported that the chief minister would chair a high-level meeting today with officials over the Covid-19 situation in the state.
For a while now, Maharashtra has been reporting the highest Covid-19 caseload in India, both in terms of active coronavirus positive patients and the total number of cases. It is among the eight states which account for 84.61% of the daily new Covid-19 cases and continue to show a steep rise in the tally.
Yesterday, the state had reported as many as 43,183 new Covid-19 cases and 249 deaths in a mere span of 24 hours. This accounted for both the highest one-day rise since the pandemic began, as well as the highest number of deaths since October last year.
To combat the intensifying threat, chief minister Thackeray has declared a state-wide night curfew from 28 March under the Maharashtra government’s ‘Mission Begin Again’ programme. Officials are also considering stricter control measures, including shutting down religious places and restricting train travel.
The administration is mulling over another potential shutdown, although no official announcement has yet been made in this regard. It may not decide to impose a “blanket lockdown”, but stricter curbs might be implemented in a phased manner, an official said, adding that the state government is likely to decide on shutting down restaurants, hotels, theatres and reducing business house hours this week.
Official statement said that in a meeting with chief minister Thackeray and Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope last Monday, members of the state Covid-19 task force had recommended strict measures, including a ‘limited-period lockdown’, to counter the alarming surge in infections and deaths.
India saw 81,466 new coronavirus infections being reported in a span of 24 hours, the highest single-day rise in six months, taking the Covid-19 tally of cases to 1,23,03,131, the Union Ministry of Health data updated on 2 April said.
Meanwhile, Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar — who had last month said there was no need for his party colleague Anil Deshmukh to resign from the post of the state’s home minister following the allegation that he was an extortionist — is keeping a close watch on the national and state political developments while recuperating in the Breach Candy Hospital, a source in the NCP said.
Shiv Sena MP and Chief spokesperson Sanjay Raut made the observation after calling on Pawar at the hospital where he is convalescing after an emergency endoscopy procedure performed to extricate a gall-bladder stone on 30 March.