With 10 days to go for the lifting of the nationwide lockdown imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus, speculation is rife on the possibility of an extension of lockdown in some areas of the country that are under 'Red Zones and have seen a surge in cases in the past week.
Maharashtra is the worst affected state, accounting for almost one-third of all COVID-19 cases in the country with the tally touching over 17,000 cases as of May 8, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Mumbai and Pune are the worst affected zones with cases from both cities inching towards 15,000. In view of this, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray called for an all-party meeting with state leaders on Thursday and continued day-long meetings with senior government officials in the state to assess the rising numbers in these cases.
A senior official in Maharashtra Chief Minister's Office, when asked by ANI about the possibility of an extended lockdown, said that this could not be ruled out. "We cannot rule out the possibility of an extended lockdown at this stage but it is too early to comment on it as there are still 10 days left for the current lockdown to get over," the official said.
In the all-party meeting had the presence of senior leaders cutting across party lines like BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray among others.
At the meeting, Uddhav Thackeray said that Maharashtra had managed to control the spread of the virus due to the current lockdown but now efforts were on to stay vigilant till the end of May.
This statement, taken in tandem with Maharashtra Chief Minister's interactions with senior bureaucrats on May 4 wherein a target was set to make the state a green zone by the end of May, seems to suggest that some hotspot zones in Maharashtra, particularly Mumbai and Pune, could see an extension of the lockdown.