COVID Surge: Lockdown in Amravati; Schools, Colleges Shut in Pune
Pune will also be putting fresh restrictions on night-time movement, large gathering, and restaurant operation.
Maharashtra’s Amravati has been placed under a lockdown for a week, this is due to a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state.
Schools and colleges will remain shut, amid other restrictions in Pune, the District administration announced on Sunday, 21 February. Pune will also be putting fresh restrictions on night-time movement, large gathering, and operations of restaurants and bars.
THE WEEK-LONG LOCKDOWN IN AMRAVATI
According to NDTV, Cabinet Minister Yashomati Thakur said the lockdown in Amravati will be in place from Monday, 22 February, evening.
The government has also, according to NDTV, informed that only essential services will be allowed to function during the strict seven-day lockdown.
Further, the minister has warned that the lockdown will be extended if people do not follow safety rules. He has mentioned that the decision to stop all non-essential activity was taken after COVID-19 cases continued to rise in Maharashtra, reported NDTV.
Previously, Amravati was placed under a lockdown that started on Saturday, 20 February, and was slated to stay till Monday morning.
WHY FRESH RESTRICTIONS IN PUNE?
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, on Sunday, chaired a COVID-19 review meeting, attended by the district health and administrative machinery, as well as several MPs and MLAs.
Following the meeting, Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao announced the decisions taken at the meeting.
Addressing the Press Conference, Saurabh Rao, informed that the positivity rate in Maharashtra has gone up. Further, according to The Indian Express, Saurabh Rao informed:
“In Pune district it has gone up to 10 percent. 15 days ago, the positivity rate was only about 4.5 to 5 percent.”
“It has grown fast. Considering the fact that last year we had seen a similar trend, where the positivity rate had grown from two to four percent to 10 percent in the first few months, and then in next three months the rate spiked further. To avoid this, we are taking some precautionary measures.”
WHAT DO PUNE’S PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES ENTAIL?
The measures announced by the Pune administration, as reported by The Indian Express and NDTV, are as follows:
- Schools and colleges will remain shut until 28 February, and the decision will be reviewed next Friday.
- Hotels, restaurants, and bars will have to shut at 11 pm (as opposed to 1.30 am, as per prevailing guidelines).
- Limited curfew will be imposed between 11 pm and 6 am, from Monday, February 22. Only for essential work people are allowed to step out of their homes. Vegetable vendors, newspaper vendors, and others involved in morning activities are excluded.
- Private coaching classes will remain closed. Those providing coaching for civil services (MPSC/UPSC) will be permitted to operate at 50 percent capacity.
- Micro-containment zones will be identified in Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, and rural areas.
- There will be no curb on inter-district transport but travellers and transport agencies have been asked to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.
- Prior permission from the police is mandatory for wedding events. More than 200 people will not be permitted.
- Single window system will be set up at police headquarters/stations to avoid trouble.
- Similar curbs will be placed on political, religious or any other gathering as well.
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackarey chaired a meeting with officials and address people of Maharashtra via online platforms, on Sunday, in which he warned that a lockdown will be imposed in the state if people don't follow COVID guidelines strictly.
He also informed that religious celebrations, social gatherings, political rallies and protest will be prohibited in Maharashtra from Monday, 22 February, in view of rising COVID-19 cases.
Vijay Namdevrao Wadettiwar, a cabinet minister in Maharashtra reportedly told NDTV:
“Coronavirus cases are rising in Nagpur, Akola, Amaravati, Yavatmal, Mumbai, and Pune. We have asked the district administration to take the call regarding lockdown or imposing other restrictions to control the cases in their respected districts, after assessing the situation on the ground.”
According to NDTV, Yavatmal was placed under restrictions, as well.
The restriction in Yavatmal, according to NDTV, include:
- Schools and colleges will stay closed till 28 February.
- Restaurants and function halls will operate, and wedding ceremonies will be held with less than 50 percent capacity.
- Assembly of five or more people will not be allowed.
Meanwhile, night curfew (11 pm to 5 am), starting Monday, has been imposed in Nashik. Pradhanpur will observe a 24 hour curfew on Monday.
6,971 new COVID-19 cases and 35 COVID deaths recorded in state on Sunday.
Maharashtra has been reporting over 6,000 COVID-19 cases for the last three days. At least 6,281 people tested positive for coronavirus in the state on Saturday. The number was 6,112 on Friday.
Meanwhile, as reports of a new strain of coronavirus in Maharashtra emerge, AIIMS Chief, Dr Randeep Guleria on Saturday, 20 February, told NDTV that herd immunity, especially in the case of the new Indian strains – found in Amravati and Akola – is a “myth” because at least 80 percent of the population needs to have developed anti-bodies to fight the virus.
The doctor added that the new strain is “highly transmissible and dangerous” and could cause re-infections for those who have previously developed anti-bodies. Guleria attributed the re-infections to “immune escape mechanism” of variants of the virus.
Advising people to maintain “COVID appropriate behaviour”, Guleria emphasised on the importance of getting the vaccine nevertheless, saying that although the person may not be immune to the new strain, they are likely to develop a milder version of it. Thereafter, the vaccine may be effective with reduced efficacy, added the report.
On Saturday, India reported 10,977,387 confirmed COVID-19 cases as per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Of these, 13,993 were reported in the last 24 hours — this is the highest one-day spike since 29 January.
(With inputs from NDTV and The Indian Express.)
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