May ask for Central `manpower' to give rest to police: Uddhav

(Eds: recasting intro) Mumbai, May 8 (PTI) Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday refuted speculation that Army will be called in to manage the coronavirus crisis in Mumbai, but said the state may ask for central forces if necessary.

Conducting a live webcast, Thackeray conceded that the 'chain' of virus infection has not been broken in the state yet, but assured that adequate medical infrastructure was available, especially in Mumbai.

Number of coronavirus cases in Maharashtra has crossed 19,000, with around 12,000 of them reported in Mumbai alone.

Every citizen of the state is a soldier who is fighting coronavirus, the CM said, expressing confidence of winning the war against the virus.

Asking people not to believe rumours, the chief minister said the government may ask for 'additional manpower'from the Union government, if needed,so that police personnel can take rest in a phased manner.

'This doesn't mean that Mumbai will be handed over to the Army. Police personnel are tired after working round-the clock, some have fallen sick and few of them have succumbed to the virus. They need rest,' Thackeray said.

Relaxation of lockdown after May 17 depends on how far people maintain discipline and follow rules, he said.

'We have to come out of the lockdown one day or the other. We can't be staying permanently like this. But to come out of this sooner, you need to follow rules and maintain discipline of social distancing and use face mask,' Thackeray said.

The chief minister admitted that even though the extent of the spread of the virus has been contained, there has been no success in 'breaking the virus chain'.

He also expressed anguish at the death of migrant workers in Aurangabad district who were run over by a goods train, calling it very unfortunate.

He appealed migrant workers not to panic, and said the Maharashtra government was in touch with the Centre and had sought more trains to ferry migrants to their home states.

Mumbai has adequate medical infrastructure for treatment of COVID-19 patients, Thackeray assured.

Though the number of coronavirus cases was rising, the number of patients who are recovering is also high, he pointed out.

If needed, medical facilities at the Central government institutions in Mumbai will be used for isolation centres, the chief minister said.

He also mentioned a viral video which showed patients being treated next to dead bodies at Sion Hospital in Mumbai.

'Such mismanagement will not be tolerated,' he said. PTI MR KRK KRK KRK