Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Saturday said that lifting of lockdown in the state after April 14 will depend upon the compliance by people to the government directives, two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi hinted at a "staggered exit" from the curbs.
In a webcast, the CM also warned of strict action against those who spread communally divisive messages on social media amidst rising cases of COVID-19 in various states.
He reiterated that no permission will be granted to religious or sporting events in the state till further notice to avoid mingling of people amid coronavirus outbreak.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the 21-day lockdown in the country to combat the spread of the coronavirus on March 24.
Thackeray said the only solution to tackle the coronavirus crisis lies in staying indoors and maintaining social distance.
"Coronavirus is playing a game of patience with us. There is no dearth of courage, discipline and confidence among people of the state. Self confidence is important (in this crisis). I have it and I know you have it too. If you have self confidence then nobody can stop us from emerging victorious (in the battle against coronavirus)," he said.
"I humbly request citizens to follow discipline and social distancing norms during the lockdown period. This is because I want to save you. Please stay indoors. Don't take undue advantage," he said.
The CM attributed the rising number of COVID 19 patients in Maharashtra to reports coming from private labs which are allowed to do sample testing.
He said 51 patients have recovered from COVID-19 and discharged in the state.
Health Minister Rajesh Tope also urged people to observe strict discipline so that the number of cases goes down, which will then pave the way for lifting of the lockdown.
He, however, said that the lockdown will be lifted in phases whenever it is done, so that "not all the people can be allowed to come on to the streets at one go".
"People must strictly observe discipline. But if they do not (by stepping outside homes unnecessarily) and the number of patients continues to go up, there will remain no other alternative left and the lockdown will have to be
extended," Tope said.
"Hence, people should strictly observe discipline. If they do so, the number of patients will reduce and then we can lift (the lockdown)," he added.
Tope said people living in densely-populated urban areas, in particular, should observe strict discipline.
As on Friday, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state stood at 490 with 26 deaths.
In an apparent reference to hateful messages being spread on social media against a minority community in the wake of spike in COVID-19 cases post Nizamuddin gathering, the CM warned of strict action against such hate-mongers.
"There is another virus of divisiveness apart from the coronavirus. I warn such people that I will ensure that no law will save you (for indulging in such acts)," he said.
The CM reiterated that no permission will be granted to any political, religious or sporting events.
"We celebrated Gudhipadwa and Ramnavmi by staying indoors. I am confident tht other communities would do the same," he said.
The CM said religious leaders, including maulvis, have been in touch with him, and that they have asked members of their communities to not venture out.
Thackeray said that as per a list received from Delhi on the members of Tablighi Jamaat from the state who attended the Nizamuddin congregation last month, all have been quarantined.
"If anyone is left out, they should come forward on their own," he said.
Thackeray further said that people who have to step out for essential work should cover their face with a clean cloth.
He said even Singapore announced a lockdown and has taken steps just like we did.
"Countries and religions may be different but the virus is one. The only solution is to stay at home," he said.
Thackeray, who heads a Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress government, said he was in regular touch with various leaders.
"Sharad Pawar is in touch. Even Sonia Gandhi spoke to me today," he said.
In his address, Thackeray also thanked one Aradhya from Solapur who donated to the CM's Relief Fund on her seventh birthday and Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan for making available his personal premises for a quarantine facility.