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Maharashtra resolves contain Covid19 to stage-2 but infections rise to 63

Maharashtra continues to be the state with the highest number of coronavirus infections in India.

Updated: Mar 21, 2020 15:47 IST

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times Mumbai

A screen is installed at the Churchgate Station displaying preventive measures against the coronavirus, in Mumbai on Wednesday. (ANI)

The number of coronavirus cases in Maharashtra has risen to 63 after 11 more tested positive even as a shutdown began in the state’s major cities to prevent the virus from spreading, officials said Saturday.

“The number of positive cases of coronavirus in Maharashtra has risen to 63,” ANI quoted the state’s health minister Rajesh Tope as saying as the countrywide count of cases reached 258.

Maharashtra’s number is the highest in India. The state government is pulling out all the stops and has directed all district administrations be ready for the crucial period in the state.

The state government has already announced a shutdown of major cities from Saturday to contain the spread of the virus. Public transport has been excluded from the shutdown. All offices, shops and establishments in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Pune, Pimpri, Chinchwad and Nagpur will be closed till March 31 following an announcement by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray. Only essential services and establishments involved in selling essential commodities have been excluded from the shut down.



The government has also cancelled the examinations for classes 1 to 8 for the schools affiliated to the State board and deferred the examinations of class 9 and 11 till April 15.

The state government has increased its testing capacity at Kasturba Hospital, Mumbai and will soon start testing laborataries at JJ Hospital and a few private hospitals in Mumbai.

During a review meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, Thackeray had requested the Centre for permission for more testing centres and laboratories to ensure the spread of coronavirus was effectively contained. He also has pushed for effective quarantine of the Indians expected to return in the next two days.

“They are in thousands and will try to rush to their hometowns as soon as they land on the airports. Many of them are from Maharashtra. We need to quarantine them for 14 days with an effective plan in place,” Thackeray urged the PM during the video conference on Friday.

Thackeray has also said that the ‘golden hour’ of the virus spread has begun in the state and the district machinery need to be on their toes. During a video conference with the divisional commissioners and district collectors on Friday evening, Thackeray said, “Our resolve is to contain the spread at stage-2 and not allow it to advance further. We have taken some strict steps like shutting down major cities. Next 15 days are crucial for the state and the state machinery need to pull up the socks during this golden hour. While ensuring that the people stay home, the district administrations should also see to it that essential services are operational,” Thackeray said.

In another address to the state through Facebook on Friday afternoon, Thackeray said that staying at home is the only “weapon” against the fight on Covid-19, which he again termed as war-like situation.

“This is not a holiday, it is a shutdown in your interest so avoid venturing out,” the CM said adding train and bus services will have to be stopped if the crowds did not go down substantially.

Health minister Tope said that the state will review the shutdown for the next two days. If the number of people venturing out does not drop significantly, the state will be forced to suspended train and bus services.

“We are seeing the response for the next two days. If the passengers in trains and bus do not reduce, we will have no choice but to shutdown the lifeline of Mumbai, while keeping emergency services on track,” he said.

Tope had also said that five of the positive patients have recovered fully and will soon be discharged.

Meanwhile, with an anticipation of cases related to Coronavirus increasing, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to utilise space for isolation wards and quarantine in its major civic hospitals in the city apart from the two civic hospitals and other private hospitals. It is also scouting for space in government run college hostels, if possible.

The BMC has been managing the flow of patients at Kasturba Hospital and Seven Hills Hospital in Andheri for admitting patients requiring isolation wards and quarantine. Currently, two hospitals - Kasturba and KEM – are testing samples but preparations are on start testing at private hospitals too.

In a circular issued by Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi on Friday late night, Pardeshi states, “It is essential to take measures to decongest major hospitals in view of coronavirus.”

Pardeshi has chalked out several measures to shift patients to peripheral civic hospitals from major civic hospitals in order to ensure more space for dealing with Coronavirus.

These measures include of all stable patients, requiring further hospital stay but can be managed by the peripheral hospitals, to be transferred to the peripheral hospitals located within 5 km of the residential address of the patients by proper coordination between both hospitals.

Pardeshi also directed that OPDs dealing with hypertension, asthma, diabetic, thyroid, hematology etc to be suspended in major hospitals till further notice and such patients shall be directed to approach the nearest dispensary or peripheral hospitals located in their vicinity.

Several appointments of routine surgeries are ordered to be deferred for next to two to three weeks. All civic hospitals have been directed to conduct small group blood donation camps to develop amble reserves of blood for future contingency.

The BMC has also decided to not keep those patients in civic hospitals who can manage home quarantine for 14 days, and on Friday announced that it will manage buses and taxis to ferry these passengers to their hometown, ensuring they do not travel in public transport.

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