A day after Maharashtra witnessed the highest one-day spike of 25,833 COVID-19 cases, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday said lockdown is an option but he trusts people to follow the norms on their own.
Talking to reporters in Nandurbar, Thackeray also appealed people to get vaccinated against the virus without fear.
India’s financial capital Mumbai is facing a second wave of COVID-19 infections that could overwhelm its health facilities, doctors said on Friday, after a record daily increase in cases in its home state Maharashtra.
New infections in India rose on the day by the highest in more than three months, heralding a return of school closures, shopping restrictions and other virus-fighting measures in parts of the world’s worst affected country after the United States and Brazil.
The COVID-19 situation has become grimmer as the number of new cases on Thursday crossed the earlier highest rise which was recorded in September, he conceded.
"I see lockdown as an option going ahead. But I trust people of the state to cooperate (and follow the COVID-19 norms voluntarily) like the last time," he said.
When the pandemic began last year, there was nothing to fight the virus with, Thackeray said.
"But now at least we have vaccines as a shield. The priority now is to ensure that everyone is vaccinated. People should come forward to take the vaccine," he said.
The Union government has assured that there would be no shortage of vaccines, he said.
There have been a few instances where a person caught infection after vaccination, but such cases are not "life- threatening", the chief minister said.
"Everyone should get vaccinated without fear," he added.
The state of 112 million people has already imposed a lockdown in some districts and put curbs on cinemas, hotels and restaurants until the end of the month. The rules were set to tighten further in Mumbai with mandatory testing to limit movement inside malls and cinemas, a senior official with the city’s COVID task-force said.
Banks were also looking to limit staffing at several branches in the city.
‘PROPER SECOND WAVE’
Doctors have blamed the resurgence in cases on people’s relaxed attitude to mask-wearing and other social distancing measures, warning that hospital wards were swiftly filling up.
In other major industrial cities including Nagpur and Pune, COVID-19 facilities have also seen a sharp rise.
“It’s a proper second wave,” said Amit Thadhani, medical director of Niramaya Hospitals in Mumbai suburb Panvel.
He said his hospital now had more than 20 COVID-19 patients and more wards were being added to manage the inflow, versus one or two patients in January.
A doctor at King Edward Memorial government hospital in Mumbai, one of the oldest in the city, said “if cases continue to rise like this for a week or so, a crisis is imminent”.
The state health minister said they had requested 2 million vaccine doses per week from the federal government, with the aim of inoculating 300,000 people per day.
“We are aggressively vaccinating people,” Rajesh Tope told reporters.
The capital, New Delhi, has also reported a steady rise in infections over the last two weeks, prompting city authorities to scale up its immunisation drive to 125,000 doses per day, from about 40,000.