Maharashtra challenge: 25 per cent of India's international passengers to land in state

Updated: Mar 21, 2020, 07:32 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray seeks help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to handle them, also says state may need Army hospitals' aid

Uddhav Thackeray
Uddhav Thackeray

Maharashtra faces the stiff challenge of managing approximately upto 25 per cent of the international arrivals in the country, at the three airports in the state, before the ban on these flights landing in India begins on March 22. The ban will be on till March 29.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray shared the concern with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday in a video conference. He told the PM that the passengers would arrive at Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur until March 22, from where they would try to reach home by whatever vehicles are available. "Stopping these passengers, quarantining and treating them (for the COVID-19 infection if any) will be a great challenge for us. We need to find a solution," Thackeray told the PM, asking the premier to expedite measures to stop the transmission from entering the third stage.

The exact number of passengers landing in Maharashtra wasn't available. But sources said approximately at least 20-25 per cent of the expected arrivals in India would be at the state airports.

"Maharashtra is fighting at its best. We are in the second stage of transmission, but need to expedite measures to stop the next stage. We need to increase the number of testing centres and laboratories," Thackeray said in the PM's video conference with CMs across the country.

He said the PM's appeal for 'Janata Curfew' has evoked a positive reaction. "The Maharashtra government has taken timely steps to control the COVID-19 epidemic. Though the number of positive people is less, we understand that there is no point in creating an illusion (of being in control) considering the spread of the disease," he said.

Thackeray said the state's priorities were to create more quarantine facilities and procure adequate stock of medicine and ventilators. "We may need the army hospitals' help," he said, demanding quick action from the PM.

The Prime Minister said that the threat of the pandemic is common for all states and underscored the need of Centre and all states working together. He said that while participation of citizens is necessary to combat the challenge, panic needs to be avoided. He added that given the global context of the spread of the virus in various countries, constant vigilance is of paramount importance. "We are in a critical phase of tackling the spread of the virus; there is no need to panic," said Modi.

He said that the next 3-4 weeks are crucial in efforts to contain the spread of the virus, and the most important measure for containment is 'social distancing'.

He requested the CMs to ensure effective implementation of the same. Modi said that the COVID-19 Economic Task Force set up by the government of India will formulate a strategy to devise a suitable approach to effectively tackle the economic challenge. He urged the CMs to ensure that all necessary steps are taken and all advisories are adhered to in order to ensure the safety of citizens in the country at large.

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