Maharashtra has not been able to break the chain of coronavirus spreading in the state, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Friday, urging people to stay indoors and follow the restrictions as part of the nationwide lockdown.
The number of coronavirus cases in the state crossed 19,000 on Friday with 1,089 new cases and 37 deaths – by far the highest in India.
In an online address to the people of the state, Mr Thackeray refuted speculation about the army being called in to Mumbai but said his administration may seek additional manpower from the central government if needed so that the police force gets some respite.
“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 a few of them have succumbed to the virus. They need rest,” Mr Thackeray said.
Whether the lockdown will be extended or not after May 17 will depend 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 living 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,” Mr Thackeray said.
He also said that mismanagement at hospitals will not be tolerated, referring to a video that showed patients at a Mumbai hospital being treated next to bodies.
The Shiv Sena chief’s address to the state came on a day when the chief of the Mumbai’s civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was replaced amid a ceaseless rise in cases in the city.
Praveen Pardeshi was replaced by Iqbal Chahal in a major shake-up in the agency that is in charge of the city’s COVID-19 response.
The central government on Thursday has said that Maharashtra was an area of particular concern and said it stood ready to help.