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'Look at numbers objectively before damaging Maharashtra's reputation'

By Rediff News Bureau
June 01, 2020 08:37 IST
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'Maharashtra has 34,000 active cases, of which 24,000 are asymptomatic, and hence need no medicines but are under quarantine.'
'9,500 cases are showing mild to severe symptoms.'
'While 1,200 are seriously ill, only 200 of them are on ventilator support.'
'Let those claiming that the situation in the state has gone out of control, look at these numbers objectively before damaging the state's reputation for political gains.'

IMAGE: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray addresses citizens of his state. Thackeray's addresses have been well received for their folksy and frank style.

What Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said in his 35-minute address to the state on Sunday evening:

Monsoon stocktaking

Even before the monsoon sets foot in Maharashtra, western coastal areas in the state will witness cyclonic rains in the next four-five days. Thackeray requested the state's fishermen not to venture out in the sea for the next few days and said he has met with state government officials and defence services representatives.

"The monsoon is likely to be normal, but then we do have cases of cloud bursts, flooding etc. The meeting was to discuss the measures to tackle emergency situations during the monsoon. We are ready to face such emergencies in case they happen," he said.

"We are expecting cyclonic rains along the western coast of Maharashtra and the state machinery is well-prepared to handle the situation. While people have been staying indoors, it is my heartfelt request to the fisherfolk to not venture out into the sea for the next four-five days," Thackeray said.

Learn to fight with corona and live with it

The Union government has already issued its notification and rules to follow while lifting the lockdown, he stated.

"Learn to live with Corona. While this has been repeated ad nauseum, let me reiterate the importance of wearing masks while stepping out. Remember, wearing masks is mandatory. Keep washing your hands with soaps or sanitisers regularly. Do not take a chance with your hand hygiene; keep up your guard against touching your hands and face without sanitising your hands."

"If you want to keep corona away, then do not touch your face, mouth or eyes even for a few moments without sanitising your hands. Better still, do not touch your face or eyes at all. You must maintain this discipline in the days to come."

When we start, we don't want to stop it

"I know some people are getting restless and want the lockdown to be lifted immediately. Even we want to remove these lockdown restrictions, but let's do it in a phased manner."

"Many countries are experimenting with the phased lifting up of lockdown restrictions. In some country they started the schools, but then they again shut them. I don't want to go that way."

"We should begin again in a manner that we continue lifting restrictions in a phased manner instead of opening up today and shutting down again in some time. If we start something then we should continue with it. And we have attained that discipline and patience based on our experience of the past two months."

"Call it self-discipline or determination, we have all worked hard to build these qualities. We will start something to sustain it; not to shut it down.

It all begins on June 3 between 5 am and 7 pm

"Let us start moving our hands and legs from June 3."

"Let us begin with cycling, jogging and outdoor exercise. We have still not given permissions to reopen gyms or spas."

"We don't want crowds to gather to attend functions or programmes. Let us maintain social distancing even as we go outdoors for our morning walks or exercises."

"The social distancing we maintain among ourselves will go a long distance in keeping corona away from us."

"When you step out of your homes, you may come meet your friends, and you must meet them, but ensure that you maintain proper distance."

"Greet each other with 'Namaste' instead of shaking hands. This is just a trial and we haven't yet reached the stage where we could meet up with friends the way we did earlier."

In a notification issued separately by the state government, activities that will begin from June 3 include opening up of garages with prior appointment, allowing the self-employed like plumbers, pest control technicians, electricians, etc, while maintaining social distancing norms, using face masks and sanitisers.

All government offices will function with 15 per cent staff strength.

In the second phase that begins June 5, shops and market areas will begin business with shops on one side of the lane remaining open on odd dates and other shops on even dates between 9 am and 5 pm; these do not include malls.

Interestingly, the notification warns that failure to maintain social distancing norms would lead to immediate closure of shops and markets by the authorities.

Taxis and cab aggregators and autorickshaws too would begin plying with just two passengers apart from the driver; for two-wheelers it will be only the driver and the pillion.

In the third and final phase of Maharashtra's Mission Begin Again plan, the government will allow private offices to operate with only 10 per cent strength in such a manner that this, in no way, affects the elderly or other vulnerable groups.

Final year students to get average marks of all semesters combined

"While those who feel they could score better marks by actually appearing for the exam will be given a chance to write their papers at some later date, those who accept the average marks of all semester scheme will be promoted thus, thereby opening their way for pursuing further studies."

"From Sunday, June 7, newspaper vendors will begin distributing papers at the doorsteps of their subscribers provided the delivery boys follow hand hygiene, face hygiene and carry sanitiser bottles on them."

More importance to imparting education than reopening schools

"The state government will take a decision on whether to reopen schools and allow students entry by halving their numbers to help maintain social distancing or enable online education via laptops and tabs where physical presence is not possible for whatever reasons."

"The state government will, however, endeavour to reopen schools in rural and urban areas that come under green zones."

People with vulnerabilities and comorbidities should stay home

While assuming that the state will soon hit the peak rate of COVID-19 positive cases very soon, the chief minister maintained that people in the high risk category -- pregnant women, diabetics, hypertensives, and those in the 55 to 60 age group should consciously take care to not venture out even as the state relaxes some lockdown restrictions.

People in the age group below this category, who will step out for work, should ensure that they don't get infected while out and do not pass it on to the elderly at home.

Only 34,000 active COVID-19 cases

Taking on his political opponents who have been seeking President's rule in the state or were demanding that hotspots like Mumbai and Pune be handed over to the army came in for some tongue-lashing from the chief minister.

Citing hard numbers, the combative Thackeray said even though the state had registered 65,000 active cases, 28,000 out of these have recovered fully and discharged.

Maharashtra has 34,000 active cases, out of which 24,000 are asymptomatic, and hence need no medicines but are under quarantine.

Adding more details about the nature of positive cases, Thackeray said 9,500 cases are showing mild to severe symptoms.

While 1,200 are seriously ill, only 200 of them are on ventilator support.

The chief minister expressed remorse for his political opponents for discrediting his government's effort in controlling the pandemic and for damaging the state's reputation.

"Let those claiming that the situation in the state has gone out of control, look at these numbers objectively before damaging the state's reputation for political gains," he said.

Go for immediate treatment at first sign of trouble

For bringing the mortality rate down to zero, the chief minister suggested that those who suffer symptoms like cold, cough, loss of taste, inability to sense smells, should immediately report to the hospital and seek treatment.

If people report their illnesses before it is too late, the doctors stand a high chance to treat them successfully.

The CM took this opportunity to praise frontline doctors who, he said, take immense efforts to save lives.

Ramping up health infrastructure

With just two testing labs at the Kasturba Hospital in Mumbai and the other in Pune when the pandemic began, the state today has 77 such labs and in the next couple of days this number will reach 100.

While admitting that there were instances when patients could not find beds at hospitals due to their shortage, the chief minister said Maharashtra now have 2,576 quarantine facilities available at various hospitals.

The state now has 25,000 beds with oxygen facility and over 250,000 isloation beds.

The number of ICU beds have been ramped up from 250 to 8,500, the CM informed citizens.

The state has been actively increasing the number of isolation centres, quarantine facilities across Mumbai, Pune, Aurangabad, and Thane and have been actively adding jumbo facilities at Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex and National Exhibition Centre at Goregaon.

Praising the Railways minister

Union Railways Ninister Piyush Goyal with whom Thackeray himself, his firebrand Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut and many ministers from the Maha Vikas Aghadi government have crossed swords over the passage of migrant labourers to their home states in Shramik trains, its mismanagement and footing the tab, came in for some praise from the chief minister

The CM could not hide his smile when he said, "Last time he got angry with me, but later he took it to his heart and sent trains to Maharashtra and we could send over 11 lakh people to their homes."

While appreciating Goyal's help, Thackeray said the state administration has moved over 16 lakh (1.6 million) migrants via trains and state transport buses.

He also mentioned that over and 3,000 Indians from abroad were brought to Maharashtra on about 22 flights.

Finally, he cited how the Shiv Bhojan scheme, his programme to provide affordable meals to poor people at Rs 5, has provided succour to millions. In May, Thackeray said 3,277,000 Shiv Bhojan meals were distributed in the state.

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