Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said today he was anticipating more coronavirus cases and, therefore, he needed “time to prepare” for the opening of the aviation sector. “The lockdown cannot be lifted even by 31 May,” he said, adding that the deadline for lockdown 4.0 would depend on how things unfolded from hereon.
Thackeray said he had spoken to Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri and requested him to give some time to prepare for the opening of the sector. “We can’t say that lockdown will be over by 31 May. We will have to see how we will go forward. The coming time is crucial as the virus is multiplying. I want to assure the medical fraternity that we are with them in all ways,” he said.
“There was a projection that Maharashtra could have 1.15 lakh coronavirus positive cases by May-end, but currently we have 47,190 COVID-19 cases and around 13,404 have recovered. This is thanks to the lockdown and discipline maintained by you,” Uddhav Thackeray said during a Facebook Live session.
“The cases will increase now. We are preparing and have created hospital infrastructure for it. By the end of May, we will make 14,000 beds available and currently, we have already created around 7,000 beds, including 3,000 in our field hospitals,” he added.
The chief minister of Maharashtra further said that the next 15 days would be crucial (in decision-making).
Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh meanwhile took to Twitter and said, “It’s extremely ill-advised to reopen airports in a red zone. Mere thermal scanning of passengers is inadequate without swabs. Impossible to have autos, cabs and buses ply in current circumstances. Adding positive passenger will add COVID stress to the red zones.”
“Getting passengers to come from a green zone to a red one putting them to risk of exposure doesn’t make sense. Keeping a busy airport up and running with all COVID-safety measures will need huge staff presence and compound risk in the red zone,” said Deshmukh.
The state government had yesterday said that it hadn’t yet updated its 19 May lockdown order that said only special flights would be allowed, which suggests that it is reluctant to let people from outside enter the state amid lockdown.
Maharashtra reported 2,608 new coronavirus patients on 23 May. The total number of cases in the state is 47,190, a health department statement said. The state reported 60 COVID-19-related deaths during the day, taking the death count to 1,577.