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Maharashtra doesn't want to lift travel curbs immediately after April 14

Travel curbs, especially in India’s financial capital Mumbai and neighbouring cities like Thane and Pune, are likely to continue. Government officials told ET that local train services and BEST buses may be curtailed or completely suspended till the end of April

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Apr 08, 2020, 01.30 PM IST
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The Maharashtra government is unlikely to lift travel curbs in the state even if the lockdown by the Centre is lifted on April 15th. Several top officials told ET that they may need at least till the end of April to get a handle on the situation. The total number of people infected in the state has gone up to 1018, the state has added on an average more than 100 cases per day for the past few days with Mumbai being the worst hit followed by Pune.

Travel curbs, especially in India’s financial capital Mumbai and neighbouring cities like Thane and Pune, are likely to continue. Government officials told ET that local train services and BEST buses may be curtailed or completely suspended till the end of April till the government gets a better sense of the risks involved.

Shutting down of train and bus services effectively brings Mumbai and its adjoining areas like Thane and Kalyan to a halt as lakhs of commuters use public transport.

“It is obvious that things cannot go back to normal immediately after the lockdown is lifted, especially in cities, like Mumbai, Pune and Thane. Starting of train or bus services might lead to the spread of infection and consequently defeat our efforts in containing them,” said a state government official. According to officials, the state would need another 15 days till the end of April or till a significant drop in new cases is recorded to think of resumption of services.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has already indicated a few days back that things won’t go back to normal immediately. Sources said the government is still hoping the situation turns for the better in the next few days. They, however, added that an overwhelming consensus was that travel curbs needed to be enforced for a bit longer in the state. Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray while speaking in the cabinet meet said that the call on the lockdown measures would be taken after April 14, a clear indication that the government wants the situation to normalise before taking a step to lift travel restrictions.

Government officials said travel curbs were important for Mumbai, one of the worst hit cities with more than 590 cases.

“We are getting cases of people who don’t know how they have been infected, there has been no foreign contact. In many of cases, we haven’t been able to track the source. So, this is troubling. We have got cases of people in slums in Dharavi, Kurla and in Bandra East being infected, so lifting a lockdown is not what we are looking at now.” said a senior state government official.

Maharashtra has been the worst hit state in the country with the number of total infected at 1018 till Tuesday evening. The state has seen 52 deaths till now, the death toll is higher than the country’s average. India’s average coronavirus fatality rate is 2.66% while Maharashtra’s is a whopping 5.98%.
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