Heading For Lockdown, Hope We Don't Have To: Maharashtra Minister To NDTV

"We are heading towards a lockdown but I hope that we don't have to go for one. Before that if we contain the virus, we will be happy, satisfied and contented. We are hoping for the best," Rajesh Tope told NDTV in an interview.

Maharashtra has been recording the highest number of cases.

Mumbai:

Maharashtra is heading towards a lockdown if the situation does not change, the state's Health Minister Rajesh Tope said today.

"We are heading towards a lockdown but I hope that we don't have to go for one. Before that if we contain the virus, we will be happy, satisfied and contented. We are hoping for the best," Mr Tope told NDTV in an interview.

He said at present he was not in favour of a lockdown. "But when hospitals are overwhelmed, we have a dearth of doctors, there is a shortage of medicines and we are not able to cope with daily numbers, at that time, the thumb rule is that we should impose a lockdown immediately so we can ramp up our capacities and can prepare for the situation."

He was responding to a question on whether Maharashtra was staring at the possibility of a full lockdown.

"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 shold be followed very strictly. Only in that period we can have good impact."

Maharashtra has been recording the highest number of cases each day in the second wave of the coronavirus sweeping India.

While battling a record surge in its daily cases, the state has been locked in a political war of words over vaccine supply.

The Maharashtra government has been flagging the shortage of vaccines, which, it says, have forced centres to shut down in cities like Mumbai, Satara, Sangli and Panvel.  

Mr Tope yesterday alleged that Maharashtra was receiving fewer doses as a proportion of its population compared to other states like BJP-ruled Gujarat.

Mr Tope said Maharashtra, which has recorded the most number of Covid cases per day in India for weeks, needs 40 lakh doses a week and 1.6 crore vaccines a month.

"I don't want to argue or fight...but we are getting 17 lakh doses after much fighting," he said.

"We are contributing 60 per cent to active cases across India. We have five lakh active cases while Gujarat has just 17,000."

He brushed off Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan's sharp comments on Maharashtra "creating panic" about vaccines to cover up its mismanagement of Covid.

"It is a lie. We have adhered to all the suggestions and directions from the centre. We are testing huge numbers...we are not hiding active cases or deaths - we are very transparent. In other states, many where elections are taking place, there is no Covid-appropriate behavior. Why is COVID-19 only seen in Maharashtra and nowhere else?"

He admitted, however, that cases worsened because of a "chalta hai (casual)" attitude after cases dropped from 60,000 to 2,000 earlier this year.

However, after the second wave, the state government had taken every step to contain the flare-up, he asserted.

Maharashtra today reported the highest daily new cases at 56,286 and has seen the most deaths of any state.