Authorities instructed to enforce strict compliance
Geetanjali Minhas | March 27, 2021 | Mumbai
As the number of Covid cases continues to rise exponentially in Maharashtra, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray has announced night curfew across the state starting March 28, Sunday. The curfew, from 8 pm to 7 am, does not put restrictions on movement but prohibits gatherings in public places.
All authorities have been instructed to "strictly enforce" the night curfew rules so that transmission of Covid-19 is contained in the state.
While the Disaster Management and Rehabilitation Department is expected to announce further details on Saturday, as per the guidelines all malls will remain closed from 8 pm to 7 am in Maharashtra. The district administrations have been told to take decisions on lockdown depending on the prevailing local situation. The decision was taken owing to anticipated pressure on health infrastructure if cases continue to rise.
“The danger from coronavirus is not over. It has increased further. People need to understand this. It has become necessary to take strict actions. Looking at the rising number of cases it seems that the present health infrastructure may fall short. District collectors can impose lockdown depending on the local situation. But they will have to give sufficient time to the people beforehand," said Thackeray.
He also said Maharashtra has vaccinated the largest number of people but the drive should be conducted more effectively. The members of the state task force on coronavirus should guide district administrations about the new variants of the virus. He also asked the authorities to increase the availability of ventilators, ICUs, and oxygen beds, and ramp up the testing.
Earlier Friday, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar held a review meeting in Pune and warned that if people continue to violate Covid norms, the government will be forced to impose a lockdown. “All officials, medical experts, and others who attended the meeting are of the opinion that if Covid cases continue to rise, strict lockdown will be the only option for us.” He said any decision in this regard will be taken on April 2.
He also said that strict restrictions have been imposed for the festival of Holi and there should not be overcrowding anywhere in the state.
The government has already issued guidelines regarding celebrating the festivals of Holi, Rang Panchami as also Easter and Good Friday in this weekend and the coming week in a simple manner.
Maharashtra on Friday reported 36,902 new Covid-19 cases, the highest single-day spike in any state since the beginning of the pandemic last year.
The state also reported 112 Covid-19 deaths on Friday and the case fatality rate (percentage of cases where deaths occur) was 2.04 percent. The state’s total caseload has now touched 26,37,735 taking its positivity rate to 13.86 percent. The state alone contributes to almost 62 percent of the total Covid-19 cases in India.
Sunrise Hospital Fire
A fire broke out at Sunrise Hospital, a dedicated Covid-19 facility located on third floor of Dreams Mall building in Bhandup in Mumbai, at around 12.30 am Friday, claiming lives of 11 patients. At least 68 patients have been rescued.
Classified as ‘Level 4’ as per the fire brigade, the fire started on the first floor, spread to the second floor and heavy fumes engulfed the third floor. Nine of the eleven persons are said to have died due to suffocation and two died just before fire took place.
Municipal commissioner IS Chahal has ordered an inquiry the report being submitted within 15 days calling for (1) the cause of fire in consultation with CFO, (2) Fix the responsibility of concerned officers regarding illegality in the structure, if any, (3) check whether all requisite licenses were issued to the mall and the hospital and if not, fix up the responsibility of concerned officers, (4) find out whether there were any lacunae in fire compliances to be maintained, (5) find out whether there was any lacunae in the fire extinguish, (6) any other issue of relevance and recommendations to prevent such accidents in the future.
On Friday, chief minister Thackeray visited the mall and said that any negligence or delay will be investigated and action will be taken against those who are responsible.
The hospital was established to serve as a Covid facility during the peak days of the pandemic. “Its licence was due to expire on March 31 but the fire took place before that. However, the fire did not start at the hospital, but elsewhere," he said. Thackeray said that in the recent past he had given instructions to carry out structural and fire audits of Covid-19 care centres and field hospitals in the state. “I had asked authorities to ensure such incidents do not occur. Still, unfortunately, this has taken place… I express regret to those who have lost their kin in the incident.” He announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the next of kin of the dead.
Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar said, “This is a very serious situation. I have seen a hospital in a mall for the first time. The civic body will conduct investigation to ascertain the cause of the fire and action will be taken accordingly.”
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