Amid a rising number of daily Covid-19 cases in Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday issued fresh guidelines to make implementation of Covid norms more stringent, including limited gathering during marriages, fines for face mask violations, hand-stamps on home-quarantine patients, and sealing of buildings where five or more cases are found.
The reinforced guidelines are also a precaution to prevent what several districts in Vidarbha are witnessing — a sudden rise in infectivity.
On Thursday, Mumbai recorded 736 cases, the highest since the year began. The last time Mumbai’s daily case load crossed 700 was 49 days ago on December 31. Mumbai’s positively rate stands at 5.4 per cent, up from less than 4 per cent until a month ago.
The only indication that Covid-19 progression is under control is the declining active case load, from 5,296 to 4,120 cases in last one week. On an average Mumbai is recording 417 new cases daily in February. In January it was recording 501 cases per day on an average. This trend may however soon change as daily cases continue to soar.
In Mumbai, 11,430 deaths have been recorded so far, with four new deaths due to Covid-19 on Thursday. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday warned that a lockdown may be enforced if the public overlooks standard procedures of wearing masks in public gatherings.
In an order issued on Thursday, Municipal Commissioner Iqbal S Chahal said that after ‘Mission Begin Again’, many citizens are stepping out of their homes without face masks which is not just unsafe for themselves but also for fellow citizens who may come in close proximity.
The BMC will depute 300 marshals — 100 each at Western, Central and Harbour railway line to enforce the rule of wearing masks while travelling in trains. In an order issued on Thursday, Chahal authorised clean-up marshals or officers appointed by the civic body to enter railway stations and board suburban trains for strict implementation of the mask rule. Appointed marshals or officers need not carry a ticket for entering the railway premises, read the order. Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said, “We expected a small rise in Covid cases after reopening of trains, but people need to follow prevention protocol if they are in public places.”
For stricter implementation of the face mask rule and to take action against those spitting in public places, BMC has doubled the number of clean-up marshals from 2,400 to 4,800. The daily target of the marshals has also been increased to penalising at least 25,000 citizens.
Institutional quarantine has been made compulsory for travellers from Brazil along with existing mandate to quarantine travellers from UK, European Countries, and the Middle East.
Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar on Tuesday had urged people to take precautions and warned it would be back to a lockdown if people did not follow all precautions. Pednekar travelled between Byculla and CST on Wednesday urging people to wear masks and follow social distancing.
According to the fresh guidelines, home quarantined patients will be stamped and the information of the patient will also be given to the housing societies. In case the patients are seen violating the quarantine norms, an FIR will be filed against the patient and the patient will be shifted to an institutional quarantine. Also, residential buildings with five and more Covid-19 positive cases will be sealed. Chahal has directed the 24 ward rooms set up in each ward to closely monitor those in home quarantine and call the patients at least four times a day to ensure quarantine rules are stringently followed.
Currently, wedding receptions are allowed only in open lawns or non-AC halls, with not more than 50 attendees. The use of masks is mandatory in wedding ceremonies, gymnasiums/clubs, night clubs, restaurants, cinemas, playgrounds and parks, shopping malls and all private offices. If the rules are not followed, the municipal commissioner has directed the ward officers to file an FIR against the establishment owners, management and the host for violating the Covid-19 rules. “If it is found that the mask is not being used and there are more than 50 people at a given time, citizens should be fined and offences should be filed against the establishments’ owners,” read the guideline.
Chahal has also directed the ward officers to regularly inspect wedding halls. “At least five places should be inspected in a day. If any rules are violated, criminal action should be taken against the organizers/hosts of the wedding as well as the concerned management,” read the order.