Coronavirus | Pune Mayor rules out lockdown for now
Focus on enhanced sample testing and medical infrastructure, increased vaccination, says Murlidhar Mohol
Stating that there was no need for a lockdown in Pune at the moment, Pune Mayor and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Murlidhar Mohol on Thursday said that the city’s medical infrastructure was well-primed to cope with the increasing COVID-19 case surge.
He said that the administration had aimed to inoculate a record one lakh people across the district on Thursday and that the focus was on further enhancing medical facilities and sample testing capacities.
The city has been recording staggering spikes of more than 4,000 cases a day for the last fortnight, while Pune district (which includes Pimpri-Chinchwad and Pune rural besides Pune city) has been witnessing an average 7,500 cases a day.
The district, which is the worst-hit in India, has now reported over 65,000 cases and nearly 10,000 deaths.
“We do not need a lockdown. I think the city’s medical facilities have the wherewithal to cope with the dramatic case surges. The focus should be on enhanced sample testing, increased vaccination, and continuously improving and streamlining the medical infrastructure,” Mr. Mohol said.
He said that currently Pune city witnessed a robust sample testing of 16,000 a day, while the capacity of the re-opened jumbo COVID-19 facilities had been ramped up from 400 to 500 beds.
“Additionally, we are planning to add 5,000 more beds across all COVID-19 care centres. About 20-25% of these beds would be converted into oxygen beds to tackle critically ill patients,” Mr. Mohol said.
Earlier, Baramati MP Supriya Sule had tweeted that the Pune administration had opened 174 vaccination centres to achieve its ambitious target of one lakh vaccinations and that the inoculation drive was progressing apace and in a satisfactory manner.
Opposition to lockdown
Meanwhile, Mr. Mohol’s fellow party member Pravin Darekar, the BJP’s Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council, reiterated his part’s stance of fierce opposition against the ruling Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government were a lockdown to be imposed over Maharashtra.
“It appears that there is no coordination whatsoever between the three parties [Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress] over the decision to enforce a lockdown. The Chief Minister ought to have acted earlier to check the renewed surge in cases…the BJP will vehemently oppose any decision that affects ordinary citizens,” Mr. Darekar said.
The BJP is seeking to exploit the alleged ‘differences’ between the tripartite MVA as the spectre of an imminent lockdown looms large amid alarming case and fatality spikes across Maharashtra.
Senior Congressmen like Prithviraj Chavan and Balasaheb Thorat, too, have expressed their disapproval over another lockdown while stressing that it must be carefully calibrated, and that relief must be provided to daily-wage earners in form of direct cash transfers.
In a riposte to Mr. Darekar, Sena MP and spokesman Sanjay Raut said that nobody ought to ‘politicise’ the lockdown issue at the moment.
“I do not think that the decision to implement a lockdown or not ought to be a political hot potato. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi was compelled to impose a countrywide lockdown last year. There are times when governments do not have a choice but to take stern measures to preserve human life. So, I do not think this is a matter for playing politics over,” Mr. Raut said.