Lockdown possible in Pune if situation remains same, Ajit hints

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(Eds: adding quotes) Pune, Mar 26 (PTI) 'Stringent decisions' would be taken if the COVID-19 situation in Pune district did not improve in one week, Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar warned on Friday, hinting that fresh lockdown can be imposed.

Pawar, who is guardian minister for Pune, told reporters the situation was becoming serious.

'If the situation (in terms of rise in cases) remains the same, we will have to take more stringent decisions in the district by the first week of April,' he said.

Asked why no fresh restrictions have been imposed yet though cases are increasing, Pawar said the previous experiences was that people complain about not getting enough notice before restrictions come into effect.

'Suppose if we announce lockdown from today, many people would not be able to get food in the evening. By giving time, people will at least get some time to store groceries and vegetables. We want to make people mentally ready,' he said.

The government also has to think of the poor who live from hand to mouth, Pawar said.

If COVID-19 rules are not followed by people, the administration will have to take some strict decision by April 2, he warned.

'For example, we have not imposed any new restrictions on hotels and restaurants. They are allowed to operate till 10 pm with 50 per cent capacity. But if the situation remains the same, we will have no option but to close hotels and only parcel service will be allowed,' he said.

Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol who attended the review meeting held by Pawar, said some decision about lockdown can be taken if the things did not improve.

Pawar also said that maximum 50 persons will be permitted at weddings and 20 persons at funerals. Social and political events have been banned.

In view of the surge in infections, the state government has decided to take control of 50 per cent of beds in privatehospitals, he said.

'We have already started a jumbo hospital in Pune and a jumbo facility in Pimpri Chinchwad will be operational fromApril,' said the deputy chief minister.

The number of beds at the Sassoon General Hospital has been increased to 500, he said, adding that an officer has been appointed to ensure that oxygen supply in hospitals remains uninterrupted.

'We are in talks with an oxygen plant in Raigad district in case we need additional supply,' he said.

There are also plans to double the number of vaccination centres in the district, he said.

'We had a discussion with Union Minister Prakash Javadekar and we have sought additional vaccine doses for thedistrict. He has agreed to look into the issue,' Pawar said. PTI SPK KRK KRK