As Maharashtra grapples with a sudden spike in coronavirus cases, the Amravati district in the state will be entering a one-week lockdown from Monday evening to curb the increasing coronavirus cases.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday announced that in view of the rising Covid-19 cases, all political, religious and social gatherings will be prohibited in the state from Monday.
In his televised address, he also said that political agitations will not be allowed for the next few days as they attract crowds.
Days after the reopening of public transport, educational institutions and religious places, Maharashtra witnessed a spike in fresh cases of Covid-19. A one-week lockdown is expected to begin in Amravati from Monday evening, reports said.
"The pandemic is raising its head in the state, but whether it is another wave will be known in eight to 15 days," he said.
"Lockdown may not be the solution to Covid-19, but it is the only option to break the cycle of the virus," he added.
The chief minister said that Covid-appropriate behaviour is a must and those violating the rules will be punished.
According to him, a face mask is the only "shield" in the war against coronavirus.
"Wear mask, maintain discipline and observe social distancing to avoid a lockdown," Thackeray said.
People should follow 'Mi zababdar' (I am responsible) campaign, he said.
"In the war against the virus there is no sword as yet but face mask is the only shield. Vaccination has begun. Trials of two more vaccines are on. It is only after that common citizens will get doses," he said.
So far, nine lakh frontline COVID-19 warriors have been vaccinated and no serious side effects have been noticed, he said and urged all the frontline and health care workers to get themselves inoculated.
People who have become negligent should not let the sacrifices of the coronavirus warriors go to waste. If you can't be a COVID warrior, don't become a COVID "doot" (carrier), he said.
"The second wave is knocking at our doors. It is up to us to decide whether to allow it in our lives again. Wear a face mask, use sanitiser and maintain social distancing. I will observe for a week to 15 days to make a decision if it is the people who want a lockdown," he said.
He asked the people to follow work from home practice and reschedule their work hours so that there is no crowding in public places.
Thackeray praised state energy minister Nitin Raut for cancelling the wedding reception of his son in view of the surge in the cases.
"This is called social responsibility. In the last few days, several of my colleagues have tested positive. I have given instructions that official meetings will now be conducted through video conferencing only," he said.
Some officials are putting the onus for the surge on people not following face mask and social distancing norms.
The government informed that only essential services will be allowed to function during the strict seven-day lockdown.
Hours after Pune district administration laid down new curbs for Covid, directing schools and coachings to remain shut until February 28, the lockdown was announced in Amravati
"Coronavirus cases are rising in Nagpur, Akola, Amravati, Yavatmal, Mumbai and Pune. We have asked the district administration to take a call on lockdown or other restrictions after assessing the situation on the ground," NDTV quoted Wadettiwar.
The surge in Covid-19 cases continued in Maharashtra for the fifth consecutive day on Saturday, with 6281 new cases, the highest daily addition in 85 days, taking the state's caseload to 2093913.
Maharashtra's death toll now stands at 51753, with the case fatality rate at 2.47 per cent, well above the national figure of 1.42 per cent.
Meanwhile, Amravati, Yavatmal and Akola districts of Vidarbha are seeing a sudden spurt, reporting over 1,400 new cases per day.
With PTI Inputs
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine