As Maharashtra battles its worst coronavirus crisis, the state's Health Minister said "there was a chalta hai (anything goes) type attitude briefly" in the state in combating the virus, but that the complacent attitude was corrected. The minister warned that the state is heading towards a lockdown if the cases continue to rise.
"I accept that there was a little 'chalta hai' type attitude (in combating the virus), but immediately, we took steps," Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope told NDTV, adding that the state government is now doing it best but needs "handholding from the government of India".
India, with Maharashtra being the worst-hit, is facing a ferocious second wave that has brought the fastest infection rate since the pandemic began, with over 1.3 lakh cases recorded in the past 24 hours. Over 56,000 of these new cases are from Maharashtra.
"In the last three to four months, when we had flattened the curve, we were of the opinion that we will not face the second surge and we had opened up everything. Every activity was opened...," he said.
The minister did not rule out of the possibility of a complete lockdown in the state like that of last year. "We are not in favour of a lockdown but it will be essential to break the chain if things don't improve," Mr Tope said.
"The purpose of a lockdown is to break the chain. Worldwide it is seen that a lockdown of at least 15 days to three weeks is a must and should be followed very strictly. Only in that period we can have good impact," he told NDTV.
The heads-up from the minister also comes as vaccination centres in several districts in Maharashtra halted inoculations, citing shortage of doses. The central government has denied that there is a shortage of supply.
"(Maharashtra) has just got 17 lakhs vaccine doses... smaller states with less population have got much more doses," he said.
"Mumbai has 1.5 crore population. Out of the 120 centers administering vaccines there, 70 are closed. It is an embarrassing situation for us."
Mr Tope questioned how other states are not reporting as many cases despite massive public rallies being in states where assembly elections are being held. "We're very honest and transparent. None of the active cases are being hidden. None of the death cases are being hidden," he said when asked about criticism that his state had mismanaged the crisis.