Gatherings banned in Maharashtra

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Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said that in view of the rising COVID-19 cases, religious, social and political gatherings will be prohibited in the state from Monday.

Asking people to follow “COVID-appropriate” behaviour and safety norms, he said he would observe for a week to 15 days and then decide whether to impose another lockdown.

“Wear masks, observe discipline and maintain social distancing to avoid another lockdown,” Thackeray told the people of the state.

In his televised address against the backdrop of the sudden surge in coronavirus cases, he said the number of daily infection cases has risen from 2,500 to 7,000 within 15 days.

“The pandemic is raising its head in the state again, but whether this is a second wave will be known in eight to 15 days,” he said.

Till a few days ago, the daily spike of cases was between 2,000 and 2,500, he said.

There are 53,000 active cases in the state. Even in cities like Amravati, the spike being witnessed now was not so high when the state saw a peak in COVID-19 cases earlier, he said, adding, “This is alarming.”

“We felt that the pandemic is under control and a lot of hard work had gone into bringing it under control,” the Chief Minister said.

“Religious, social and political gatherings will be prohibited in the state from tomorrow. Political agitations with crowd will have to be stopped for some time… All of us need to expand and spread our political base including myself, my allies and the Opposition parties. But let us not spread coronavirus,” he said.

The Mumbai suburban areas have seen a weekly rise in cases by 19 per cent. In Nagpur, Amravati, Nashik, Akola and Yavatmal the weekly cases have increased by 33 per cent, 47 per cent, 23 per cent, 55 per cent and 48 per cent, respectively, the union health ministry noted.

The Pune district administration announced curbs, including restrictions on the movement of people from 11 pm to 6 am for non-essential activities.

Schools, colleges and private coaching classes will remain closed till February 28, while hotels and restaurants will have to shut their establishments by 11 pm every day, Pune divisional commissioner Saurabh Rao told reporters.