File image: A railway police official makes an announcement on a loudspeaker asking commuters to stand inside the designated circles to maintain physical distancing as they wait to board a train at a railway station in Mumbai, India on June 22, 2020. (Image: Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas)
The Thane Municipal Commissioner (TMC) imposed a lockdown till March 31 across 16 hotspots areas within Thane city in Maharashtra amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
Thane city, a part of the Mumbai Metropolitan Regions (MMR), has been reporting a significant rise in COVID-19 cases over the last few weeks, just like neighbouring Mumbai city. The areas under TMC (not the rest of Thane district) have together reported more than 64,400 COVID-19 cases and 1,253 since the pandemic started.
The order, issued by Municipal Commissioner Vipin Sharma, said that all restrictions that were in place during the nationwide lockdown imposed earlier would be in force during this time as well. Services like medical shops, groceries, dairy, and other establishments dealing with essential services will be allowed to remain open.
All activities outside these areas will continue as previously permitted under the Maharashtra government'sMission Begin Again’.
Read: Thane's COVID-19 hotspots to be under lockdown till March 31; here's all you need to know
The region has been reporting a significant rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases being reported on a daily basis. Having flattened the curve of COVID-19 cases by January-February, Maharashtra has also witnessed a sharp rise in infections over the last three-four weeks.
On March 8, Maharashtra reported 8,744 new COVID-19 cases from the previous 24-hour period. This number was around just 2,500 in the initial weeks of February. The total number of confirmed cases in the state stood at 22.28 lakh. With more than 52,500 deaths, Maharashtra remains the worst-affected state in the country due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.
While over 20.77 lakh patients have recovered, around 97,630 cases remain ‘active’ in the state.
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Parts of the state, such as Aurangabad and Amravati district, had to implement some kind of a lockdown to curb the spread of the disease. Safety protocols were also tightened in other areas.
Thus, the lockdown in Thane’s hotspots has led some people to wonder if a complete lockdown is on the cards in the rest of the city as well as the metropolitan region.
“Lockdown in #Thane in 16 hotspots! Is #Mumbai at risk?” a Twitter user asked.
Expressing concern, another social media user said: “[Please] do not impose sudden lockdown in Maharashtra, Thane District, Mumbai, give a week's time for people to make the arrangement”.
News reports quoted Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal as saying on March 9 that there is no immediate need to impose a lockdown in Mumbai.
Chahal had also told CNBC-TV18 on March 8 that no additional restrictions were being imposed in Mumbai for now in view of the spike in COVID-19 cases. He said that current COVID-19 restrictions will continue to remain in place in Mumbai and urged citizens to follow safety measures such as wearing a face mask in public and maintaining physical distancing.
However, Guardian Minister Aslam Shaikh said that Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has instructed all officials to keep options open. "In Mumbai, [COVID-19] cases are a bit higher. The chief minister has instructed all administration officers to take a decision on whatever is necessary; be it imposing a partial lockdown, increasing testing, or go for a complete lockdown," Shaikh said.
Thackeray had chaired a state Cabinet meeting on March 7 where the implementation of stricter safety norms, including a partial lockdown, were reportedly discussed. However, a decision in this regard may be taken after reviewing the rise in cases over a week.Click here for Moneycontrol’s full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic