Mumbai, May 30:
The Union Government is likely to extend the lockdown by another two weeks after 31 May, with some relaxations, with focus on 13 cities with 70 per cent of the COVID-19 cases in the country.
While most of the states, including Maharashtra, are in favour of the extension, the Centre may leave it to the states and Union Territories to decide on further restrictions, other than a pan-India ‘negative’ list that may continue to ban international flights and schools and colleges, other educational institutes, shopping malls and cinema halls
Places of worship and gymnasiums may be allowed to open in ‘Lockdown 5.0’ but no religious congregation or any other mass gathering will be allowed.
The cities in focus are Maharashtra-Mumbai, Pune,Thane, Tamil Nadu- Chennai, Chengalpattu, Thiruvallur, Delhi, Gujarat-Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, West Bengal-Kolkata, Madhya Pradesh- Indore, Rajasthan-Jaipur and Jodhpur.
Following the Centre allowing ease in lockdown curbs in May, the cases in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh have more than doubled. These states have been attributing the increase in their tallies to arrival of people from outside in special trains, being run since early May to ferry migrant workers to their native places, and special international flights that began to bring back stranded Indians and expatriates from abroad.
The Centre had in the fourth phase of the lockdown focused most of the restrictions to the containment zones and allowed operation of all markets, offices, industries and business along with plying of buses in all other areas to completely open the economy. Last week, the government also allowed operations of domestic flights in a limited capacity.
While Maharshtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has been cautious about lifting the lock down, in the wake of increasing number of COVID-19 cases, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar is in favour of granting some relaxations.
On Friday, Thackeray, speaking to media said that next 15 days will be crucial and as such it is imperative that the lock down is extended by a fortnight. Considerable energy was wasted in shifting migrant workers, he added. Thackeray was accompanied by: Industries Minister Subhash Desai, Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta and Mumbai Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal during media meet.
On the occasion, Chahal said that although the statistics of COVID-19 appeared inflated, a sizable number of patients have cured. Besides, there are many patients who are under home quarantine.
On Friday Maharashtra COVID-19 figures stood as: Deaths-116 (Mumbai-38, Thane-01, Bhiwandi-03, Navi Mumbai-09, Raigad-02, Mira-Bhayander-03, Panvel-01 and Kalyan-Dombivali-01), new patients-2682, cured and discharged-8,381 (they included 7,358 patients from Mumbai municipal area) and under treatment- 33,124.
Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]