Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday deprecated the conduct of "some parties" for putting the lives of people at risk by agitating on roads ahead of a second wave of COVID-19 and said they should be asked to not play politics at this crucial juncture.
Speaking during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's video conference meeting with chief ministers of eight states which have reported high COVID-19 cases, Mr Thackeray said the PM or Union Home Minister Amit Shah should convene a meeting of all parties to tell them about the seriousness of the situation.
Mr Thackeray did not name any party, but his remarks came in the backdrop of the Maharashtra BJP staging street protests for reopening of temples in the state and on the issue of inflated electricity bills in the recent past.
Mr Thackeray informed the prime minister that the Maharashtra government has formed a task force to manage the distribution of COVID-19 vaccine once it is available.
"The second wave of COVID-19 is coming and we are restoring life to normalcy with appropriate precautions as per the Centre's instructions. But some parties are toying with the lives of people by protesting on streets by breaking rules. They should be given an idea of the situation and asked to not play politics, an official statement quoted Mr Thackeray as saying at the meeting.
The chief minister said on one hand his government is asking people to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, but on the other, political parties are taking to streets to play politics. This will fail all our efforts and invite the COVID- 19 wave, he added.
Mr Thackeray said some months ago Maharashtra, the worst- hit state in the country, used to report around 24,000 COVID-19 cases per day, but now the situation has now improved.
The number has now come down to 4,700 to 5,000 cases daily, the chief minister added.
Mr Thackeray said though the daily tally of COVID-19 patients has come down, the state government has asked the people to exercise caution and not be caught off-guard.
The chief minister said a task force has been set up to oversee the distribution and vaccination in Maharashtra and the government is in constant touch with Adar Poonawalla of Serum Institute of India to track development of its vaccine for coronavirus, the statement said quoting Thackeray.
Mr Poonawalla is the CEO of Pune-based Serum Institute of India, which has partnered with pharma major AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford for manufacturing a vaccine for COVID-19.
He said the task force will discuss aspects such as availability of the vaccine, its side effects, cost and distribution.
Mr Thackeray said his governments My Family, My Responsibility campaign has received good response from people and succeeded in containing the spread of the disease.
He said the state government has with it data of 11.92 crore people, which will help prepare a health map of the state.
Mr Thackeray said there is a need to pay attention towards health issues faced by people who recover after being infected by COVID-19.
He said 70,000 to 80,000 tests are being conducted in the state daily at present and added instructions have been issued to increase the number of RT-PCR tests, considered the most reliable tool to detect the virus.
The statement said that, according to the presentation made by the Union health secretary, the number of daily patients in Maharashtra has dropped over the past two weeks and added it is placed last in the table of eight states which account for bulk of the nationwide cases.
The reduction in the number of patients is 76 per cent, it said.