With State reporting more patients daily, availability of critical beds is a dire problem: Rajesh Tope
Amid huge rise in COVID-19 cases, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Tuesday said a lockdown over the State would only be imposed as a last resort. He said neither the public desired nor Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the ruling parties in the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) wished to impose a lockdown.
Mr. Tope nevertheless said the government would be left with no option if the number of critical patients rapidly exceeded available critical health facilities, putting a heavy strain on the medical infrastructure.
“A lockdown is neither loved nor wanted by anyone in the State as it has severe economic repercussions. The Chief Minister does not wish it and neither do any of the three MVA partners. There are no differences within the coalition as well on this count,” said the Minister.
However, Mr. Tope said that with Maharashtra reporting 35,000-40,000 new COVID-19 patients daily, a dire problem that posed itself was the availability of critical beds.
“The number of cases is increasing exponentially. In such a situation, it is necessary to measure the rate of increase in the number of patients with the available health facilities and medicines. If this situation continues unchecked, then a lockdown will have to be deployed as a last option because nothing is more precious than human lives,” Mr. Tope said.
At the same time, he hinted that any lockdown in the future would not take the shape of last year’s stringent lockdown.
“We do not want unorganised workers and small businesses to suffer,” he said.
Talks with officials
He said the Chief Minister was continually in discussion with officials and was pondering on how to tighten curbs to break the virus chain without resorting to a lockdown option.
“In the event of such a decision [to impose a lockdown], the duration will be decided after a comprehensive Cabinet discussion and will not be taken suddenly,” the Health Minister reassured.
Commenting on the growing number of patients, Mr. Tope said that while those without symptoms had little cause for alarm, most of these had small homes which led to whole families becoming infected as a result.
Stating that Maharashtra ranked first in vaccination in the country, Mr. Tope appealed to all political parties to urge their activists to make sure that more people came forward and got themselves inoculated.
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