Even as COVID-19 rages in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh despite restrictions since the past week, respective local authorities decided to extend lockdown in big cities like Indore and Ujjain in MP and Raipur and Jashpur in Chhattisgarh till April 26 morning. Although there has been no official order yet, Bhopal district collector also hinted at a lockdown extension till April 26 after a meeting on Saturday afternoon.

In Indore, the official lockdown extension is till April 23 (from April 19), followed by the weekend lockdown of April 25 and 25, which will effectively extend the restrictions till the morning of April 26.

In Madhya Pradesh, the restrictions are being officially called ‘corona curfew’, though the regulations are lockdown-like with some exemptions. The decision to extend the restrictions in Bhopal, Indore and Ujjain were taken in the meetings of respective crisis management committees as cases continue to surge.

Bhopal has overtaken even Indore in the number of daily cases and reported 1,669 new cases during the past 24 hours, compared to 1,656 in Indore. Officially, the districts reported six and seven deaths respectively in 24 hours, but local media claimed that over 115 last rites under COVID-19 protocol were conducted in Bhopal alone in the duration. Both the districts have over 10,000 active cases at present.

In all, the state reported 11,269 positive cases during the past 24 hours and 66 deaths – both highest single-day figures since the pandemic struck. The positivity rate has remained between 21 and 23 per cent in the state since past few days, which is a very worrying situation, especially with lockdown-like restrictions in place.

Bhopal district collector Avinash Lavania said during the coming week, the restrictions on unnecessary movement of people would be stricter and only those working for and requiring emergency services will be allowed to move out. The formal guidelines are expected later in the evening.

Indore collector Manish Singh said the restrictions were being imposed keeping in view the situation of the availability of hospital beds. However, the guidelines will be similar to the past week, he said. In Ujjain, some shops will be allowed to open between 8.00am and 12.00 noon in view of the marriage season, district collector Ashish Singh said.

Kumbh returnees to be isolated/quarantined in MP

Madhya Pradesh government said pilgrims returning from the Kumbh fair in Haridwar will have to mandatorily inform the respective collectors of their return. Following this, the district administration will take due steps of isolating/quarantining such pilgrims as required.

The state home department came out with an order on Saturday asking all district collectors to publicise this requirement and also set up a dedicated number for this if necessary. Common people could also give information of pilgrims returning from Kumbh in Haridwar to the district administration, the order said.

Earlier in the day, during a meeting, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said all returning pilgrims will be tested for COVID-19. There were reports of several such pilgrims, including a prominent seer in Bhopal, getting admitted to hospital after getting COVID-19 like symptoms after returning from Haridwar Kumbh.

Meanwhile, two seers from MP, who attended Kumbh—Mahamandaleshwar Swami Shyam Devacharya of Jabalpur and Mahamandaleshwar Kapil Dev of Maha Nirani Akhanda, Chitrakoot—have succumbed to the pandemic last week.

Remdesivir theft causes uproar

The theft of about 853 vials of Remdesivir injection from the central store of the Government Hamidia Hospital in Bhopal – the apex government facility of the state – caused uproar on Saturday. The thieves reportedly made way with the vials by cutting the grill of the store. The vials had been supplied to the Hamidia Hospital on Friday and were to be given to patients on Saturday.

The state government has directed a probe into the theft. Medical Education Minister Vishvas Sarang, Bhopal divisional commissioner Kavindra Kiyawat and Bhopal deputy inspector general (DIG) of police Irshad Wali reached the hospital on Saturday afternoon to seek details.

Raipur lockdown extended

Meanwhile, in the highly impacted state of Chhattisgarh, lockdown in capital Raipur and Jashpur were extended till April 26, while in Korba it was extended till April 27. Lockdown in Durg was recently extended till April 19, but further extension is likely, sources said. There were reports of lockdown being extended in Rajnandgaon as well, but the district collector said it was a rumour and as of now, lockdown is in place till morning of April 19.

Lockdown has also been announced between April 19 and 26 for Narayanpur district in Bastar, despite it being one of the districts with the fewest cases. The total cases in the district stand at 113.

In several other parts of the state though, cases are raging. On Friday, 14,912 new cases were reported with a positivity rate of 30.07 per cent. In all, 138 deaths were reported taking the death toll to 5,580 in the state. Capital Raipur alone reported 3,813 new cases and 61 deaths.

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