Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in the state, social distancing norms were flouted in Maharashtra’s Nagpur as people gathered outside a liquor store on Friday night ahead of a week-long lockdown starting on Monday.

Similarly, hundreds of people were seen flouting social distancing norms at a cotton market in the city.

Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, the state government on Thursday decided to impose a lockdown in Nagpur district from March 15 to 21.

Only essential services such as vegetable and fruit shops and milk booths will stay open, according to the order issued by the district administration.

“Complete lockdown to remain imposed in Nagpur City Police Commissionerate area from March 15 to March 21. Essential services will continue,” said Nagpur Guardian Minister Nitin Raut.

“Maharashtra reported 13,659 new COVID-19 cases and 54 deaths in the last 24 hours. With this, the cumulative count of the cases in the state has reached 22,52,057. The state currently has 1,00,240 active coronavirus cases. Registering as many as 9,913 recoveries in the last 24 hours, Maharashtra’s total recovery count went up to 20,99,207,” the Union Health Ministry informed on Thursday morning.

The Union Health Ministry on Thursday during its weekly press conference expressed concerns over the COVID-19 situation in Maharashtra and said that reduced testing, tracing and lack of COVID appropriate behaviours have led to the surge in active cases in the state.

“We are very worried about Maharashtra. This is a serious matter. This has two lessons- don’t take the virus for granted and if we have to remain Covid free, then, we need to follow Covid appropriate behaviour,” Member (Health), NITI Aayog Dr VK Paul said.

Echoing a similar remark, ICMR DG Balram Bhargava said that Maharashtra has shown a worrisome trend.

“The mutant strain has not been found incriminating in this surge in cases. It is just related to reduced testing, tracking and tracing and COVID inappropriate behaviour and large congregations,” he said.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday had said that strict lockdown measures will be enforced in some parts of the state to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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