- In Maharashtra, more than 52,000 people have been tested COVID-19 positive
- As of May 26, Maharashtra has reported more than 1600 deaths
- Aaditya Thackeray explains how state is planning to open up after lockdown
New Delhi: With the number of COVID-19 infection cases crossing the worrisome 50,000 mark in Maharashtra and out of which 31,000 are in Mumbai alone, NDTV spoke to Maharashtra Minister Aaditya Thackeray to know the overall situation in the state, what has been done till date to deal with the pandemic and when can Maharashtra see itself flattening the curve. As of May 26, more than 15,000 people have recovered while 1, 695 people were reported dead due to COVID-19, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Talking about the huge number of COVID-19 cases in the state, Maharashtra Minister Aaditya Thackeray said,
When we talk about the global pandemic, obviously it has spread everywhere and the work of government is not to keep the cases low in terms of stats. You can only keep the cases low after you have contained the spread. And that can only happen when you chase the cases, and Maharashtra is one of the states, which has till date not hid any figures. We are not scared of the rising numbers, we have told all our officers and health workers to go on and chase cases, as much as possible. We told them to do active testing, check people, be it in slums, housing societies or chawls, as testing is very important aT this crucial time. The number of cases is high all over the world, there is no denying that fact. No one can run away from that fact and no one can hide from it. All we have to do is to keep our citizens safe, we need to identify them and treat them properly. So, the more we will test, more cases will get highlighted.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a total of 31 lakh (31,26,119) samples had been tested across India as of 9 am on May 26, out of which Maharashtra has tested 3,78,555 samples.
Talking about if Maharashtra has done enough testing or do they need to scale up their testing, Aaditya Thackeray added,
In a country likes our, with so much population and then in a state likes ours, which is the second most popular state in India, no matter how much you test, it will fall short. We cannot ever meet the number of people with a number of hospitals or beds. It is the work of government to do as much as they can, be it in terms of hospitals, private labs or government hospitals, one thing we can assure that we all are working together to do our best.
On lockdown and the strategy ahead for dealing with the pandemic, Aaditya Thackeray said that Maharashtra will consider staggered opening after May 31, once the nationwide lockdown is lifted. He added,
If you ask anyone about the plan ahead in dealing with the pandemic, the answer will be no. First, we don’t know how long coronavirus or COVID-19 will last in the world? The answer literally to this question is “WHO knows”, which is basically the World Health organisation knows, maybe. Maharashtra started off with the lockdown from March 9 or 10, and we didn’t go immediately in the lockdown, we went ahead slowly and gradually, we first closed gyms, malls and cinema halls, then schools and colleges and by March 23, we were in a complete lockdown. Likewise, if we talk about coming out of a lockdown, or learning to live with coronavirus, there are a couple of things we need to keep in mind. Just like an immediate lockdown is not possible, similarly, an immediate opening up won’t be possible. We have to take care, be responsible and also identify citizens, offices, areas or establishments that can take care of themselves plus apart from that we need to create a medical buffer, as obviously there will be a rise of cases after the lockdown is lifted because coronavirus isn’t going anywhere soon, till the time we get medicine or vaccine. So, in the lockdown period which further pushes the rise of cases, we create that medical buffer, prepare the state for the pandemic in terms of facilities, hospital beds and more.
In the lockdown period, Maharashtra has built multiple jumbo facilities to treat COVID-19 patients. The recent facility has been created in a fortnight by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority at Bandra Kurla Complex. Highlighting the facilities created in the state, the minister said,
In the first phase plan to deal with the pandemic, Maharashtra’s target was to have 10,000 hospital beds till June 5 and 7. Moreover, we have created jumbo facilities, with around 1,000 beds in each of the facilities like isolation wards, ICUs, dialysis beds and beds equipped with oxygen and more adequate facilities to deal with coronavirus and its patients.
Currently, Maharashtra has also asked Kerala to send in few medical staff to Mumbai, firstly to ease off little pressure from the medical staff in the city, secondly, to exchange ideas and notes in dealing with the pandemic so that same learnings and experience can help Maharashtra overall to fight this ongoing battle of coronavirus successfully. Commenting on the same, Aaditya Thackeray said,
Kerala is one of the few states in India with better medical facilities and healthcare systems and the way they have dealt with pandemics or health emergencies over the years is commendable, be it Nipah virus and the kind of SOPs they follow – it is good to have them so that they can help us with the exchange of ideas to flatten this curve.