The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked if it was time for the Maharashtra government to think of imposing a “lockdown like last year” for at least 15 days to successfully contain the spread of COVID-19.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni asked Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni if the state believed its current restrictions on the movement of citizens were working. Do you think the restrictions are working, and that only people with urgent business are on the roads? it asked.
“At least for 15 days if people stay strictly indoors, like last year, we may expect better results. Please advise your government,” the high court said. “We are not issuing any mandate, but do you think the government should consider a lockdown like last year?” the HC asked Kumbhakoni.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said the existing lockdown-like restrictions will be extended in the state by 15 days beyond April 30.
The strict curbs on movement of people and a host of other activities are in force since April 14. Essential services have been exempted from the curbs. The HC also directed the Maharashtra government to ensure municipal authorities conducted an immediate fire audit of all hospitals, nursing homes and COVID-19 care centres across the state.
“Again four people have died,” the HC said, referring to the fire tragedy at a private hospital in neighbouring Thane district on Wednesday.
“We do not want any more fires in hospitals. Please note, these are very difficult times,” it said. A patient is in “agony” and does not have the time to check if a hospital is safe, fire-compliant or not, it noted.
“We do not want hospitals turning into Jatugrihas,” the HC said, referring to the highly combustible house of lac that Duryodhana had built for the Pandavas in the “Mahabharata”. The HC was hearing a PIL, alleging improper management of COVID-19 treatment in Maharashtra and seeking directions pertaining to shortage of Remdesivir, the key anti-viral drug, and oxygen supply.