Thackeray appeals people to cooperate in ‘war on virus’

Mumbai, March 19 (IANS) Amid the coronavirus scare in the country, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday assured the state machinery was fully geared up and sought public cooperation in the ongoing ‘war against virus’.

In a special address to the state’s people, Thackeray assured that the state and the Centre were “fully geared” up for what he termed as a ‘world war’ against coronavirus or SAR-CoV2.

“Like in the days of the (1971) India-Pakistan War, the siren has been sounded. We all have to be alert and fight this global war. This virus is spreading step-by-step, slowly, and Maharashtra already has the highest number of affected persons,” Thackeray said on the biggest public challenge confronting his four-month-old government.

He reiterated his plea to the 1.70 crore residents of Mumbai to avoid crowding of public areas and social contacts, as the number of patients in the state touched 49 on March 19.

“There is some improvement. But more needs to be done. Please try to remain indoors as far as possible, avoid all unnecessary commutes/travels and exercise precautions at all times. Work from home as far as possible. We have the example of China before us; they were the first to suffer,” Thackeray said.

In a warning to those ‘jumping’ home quarantine, he said those with the isolation stamp must stay at home or they would be forcibly taken to a government facility for quarantine, a step simultaneously reiterated by Health Minister Rajesh Tope.

The Chief Minister said that he has already spoken with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and apprised them of the measures taken by the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra in the war against coronavirus.

Hinting that he would not hesitate to shut down public transport — Mumbai’s suburban rail, buses, Metro etc — which ferry around 10 million commuters daily — he said that state government offices are implementing 50 per cent attendance norm, and the private sector too is expected to follow suit.

“The government can take (such) a decision, but let us not come to that,” Thackeray averred on closure of public transport to avoid crowding in Mumbai.

“This is a global crisis; it has come from outside. The government is working for you — doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, police, officials. All are functioning round-the-clock. They also have families and their concerns. You can help by remaining indoors for 24 hours. This is the land of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. we are fighters and shall overcome this,” Thackeray added.

The Chief Minister’s address came hours before Modi’s scheduled address to the nation at 8 pm tonight.



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