Mumbai: Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in India as far as COVID-19 infections are concerned. The state has witnessed a scorching surge in the spread of novel coronavirus from end of March. Though, the state is under lockdown-style curfew, the Bombay High Court has asked the state to think of ‘strict’ lockdown.
The Bombay High Court asked if it was spell for the Maharashtra government to think of enforcing a lockdown like last year for 15 days to effectively curtail the spread of COVID-19. The Bombay High Court on Thursday made the statement during a hearing for an appeal, which alleged that COVID-19 treatment was being bungled in the state.
The Bombay High Court bench led by Chief Justice Dipankar Datta recommended the state’s Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni to advise the Maharashtra government to go ahead with a 15-day strict shutdown.
"At least for 15 days if people stay strictly indoors, like last year, we may expect better results. Please advise your government," the high court advised on Thursday. "We are not issuing any mandate, but do you think the government should consider a lockdown like last year?" the HC questioned Kumbhakoni.
FIRE AUDITS OF ALL HOSPITALS
"Again four people have died," the HC stated, referring to the fire incident at a private hospital in Thane district on Wednesday. "We do not want any more fires in hospitals. Please note, these are very difficult times," it added.
The HC thus directed the Maharashtra government to ensure municipal bodies to conduct an immediate fire audit of all hospitals, nursing homes and COVID-19 care centres around the state. A patient is in ‘agony’ and does not have the time to check if a hospital is safe, fire-compliant or not, it slammed.
The HC also heard a PIL (Public Interest Litigation), alleging inappropriate management of COVID-19 treatment in the state and seeking directions relating to acute shortage of Remdesivir, the key anti-viral drug, and oxygen supply.
The MVA (MahaVikas Aghadi) government led by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday decided to extend lockdown-like restrictions till May 15. On Thursday, Health Minister Rajesh Tope had cautioned that state will extend the restrictions as the decision was made in the state cabinet meeting.
An order declared on Thursday said the lockdown restrictions imposed on April 14 have been extended and will remain in place till 7 am of May 15. The order, issued by state Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, stated the government decided to extend the ‘Break the Chain’ restrictions as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in Maharashtra.
The official in the order said in view of the situation, it was imperious that emergency measures continue so that the further spread of the virus could be curtailed. The extensive curbs, which were enforced on April 14, were tightened last week by bringing more activities under their domain of the order.
Section 144 of the CrPC remains in force around Maharashtra, with only emergency services personnel permitted to use local train services in Mumbai as well as other public transport in the rest of the state. The government has instructed that vegetable and fruit shops, grocery stores and milk will be allowed to operate only between 7 am and 11 am. Also, the state government has asked to get an e-pass if one has to travel inter-district.
DEATH TOLL REDUCED
A day after witnessing the highest ever 1,035 COVID-19 deaths, Maharashtra's fatalities came down on Thursday by nearly one-fourth but with an increase in new infections, according to the health department.
Coming down from over the 1,000-brink, the state on Thursday registered 771 deaths, the lowest in a week, taking its tally to 67,985. The number of new cases hovered above the 60,000 mark, at 66,159, and the state total went above the 45 lakh mark to 45,39,553.
The state death rate remained stable at 1.05 per cent for the third day running, and the number of active cases gone down to 670,301. On the positive front, 68,537 fully recovered patients returned home, taking the tally from 37,30,379 to 37,99,266 now, with the recovery rate refining from 83.04 per cent on Wednesday to 83.69 per cent now.