Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has warned against rushing to lift the coronavirus lockdown, pointing to similar measures by western countries that then scrambled to re-impose restrictions when they realised the virus was still spreading.
In a two-part interview, the first of which was released on Saturday, with Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut for party mouthpiece “Saamna”, Thackeray also cautioned people in Mumbai, where the outbreak appears to be under control, against letting their guard down, saying “I’m worried about that”.
“This is war against the COVID-19 virus and wherever countries removed the lockdown, all at once, they are now again re-imposing the lockdown — like Australia,” Uddhav Thackeray said.
“Everyone says open and unlock things and that the economy is under threat. Yes, I agree. But will these people take responsibility if many people get infected or die? Are you ready to let people die for the economy?” he asked.
Thackeray then took a swipe at US President Donald Trump, whose handling of the health crisis, particularly his resistance to tougher restrictions, has been heavily criticised.
“I am not Donald Trump. I cannot see my people suffer in front of my eyes,” he declared.
“My focus is on reopening things slowly. I agree people are tired but I can’t open everything at once. We are calling this a pandemic because no one has any quick fix for this,” he said, adding, when asked about places of worship being re-opened, that “God is within us”.
Maharashtra is India’s worst-affected state with over 3.57 lakh cases, of which 1.44 lakh are active infections and over 13,000 are deaths linked to the virus.