22/03/2020 5:36 PM IST | Updated 22/03/2020 5:40 PM IST

Lockdown In Maharashtra As Coronavirus Cases Cross 70, Local Train Services Suspended

The state has entered a critical stage where the virus will multiply itself, said CM Uddhav Thackeray during an address.

NAGPUR, Maharashtra — India’s richest state Maharashtra will be under a lockdown from Sunday midnight to March 31 in the wake of increasing cases of people affected by novel coronavirus in the state.

The state has reported 10 new cases in the last 24 hours taking the total number of people infected by the Covid-19 virus to 74 by Sunday afternoon out of which two people have died. 

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Announcing the statewide lockdown, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said in a televised message, “We have now entered a critical stage. As you must have noticed, the number of patients with Coronavirus has increased in the last two days and we have to stop it. From tomorrow onwards, I am imposing section 144 in all urban areas of the state as there is no other option. Don’t leave your home if it’s not necessary.  The next few days are extremely important because this virus is going to multiply now which is very dangerous. In order to prevent it, all quarantined persons need to observe strict self-isolation. If we take all the precautions now, I am sure not only we would stop the multiplication of this virus but we would trigger its subtraction.”

Maharashtra has reported the highest number of patients positive with Covid-19 in India.

“We are also increasing testing facilities. Section 144 means there will be suspension of local trains. All inter-state buses, private and government-operated buses inside the state have been suspended. The local bus services in the cities will be functional only for those working in essential services,” the CM announced.

Grocery, milk and vegetable stores, financial institutions including banks and the stock exchange have been excluded from this lockdown.

“Wherever it’s possible, work from home. Last week I had reduced the number of working people in government departments by 50 %. Yesterday, I had brought it down to 25 % and now I am reducing it to 5 %. Only a 5 % workforce is going to work so please don’t overburden it. We will observe such measures till March 31 and we may have to increase it further if needed. Local trains have been suspended now. Please shut down all religious institutions. This virus is global and hasn’t left any religion or class. It hasn’t spared (Donald) Trump or me. Please don’t start hoarding essential food items because these shops will be open. The next few days are like an exam for us. Let’s appear in this exam and clear it together. Even if we are staring at a serious danger, please don’t panic because your government is capable to deal with it,” Thackeray added.

The total number coronavirus cases in India surged to 341, according to the health ministry’s press conference on Sunday. In Maharashtra, five of the ten people who tested positive on Sunday got the infection through local transmission, state health minister Rajesh Tope said.

The Centre announced that it was locking down 75 districts across the country which had reported coronavirus patients or deaths, allowing for only essential services in these parts.