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Maharashtra chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday clarified that the state will not go under a lockdown but will impose section 144 for the next 15 days and follow strict restrictions from Wednesday evening.

"I will not term this as lockdown," Thackeray said, but added that only essential services would be allowed between 7 am and 8 pm.

"We are imposing Section 144 for the next 15 days. These restrictions will come into effect from tomorrow 8 pm," Thackeray said, adding that time has come to take strict measures to break the covid-19 chain.

On Tuesday Maharashtra added 60212 fresh cases. The increase in cases has now burdened the health infrastructure, he added. As on today, there are 5,93,042 active cases in the state. Overall recovery rate in the state is at 81%, doubling rate is at 38 days, and growth rate (Apr 6-12) at 1.79%.

"We had good control over Covid till November-December. But now the war (against coronavirus) has begun again. And this time the cases are exploding dangerously," added the CM.

However, the state is battling the shortage of hospital beds, ventilators and Remdesivir, a key anti-viral drug.

"1,200 metric tonnes (mt) of oxygen is produced in the state every day and 900-1,000 mt is being used on Covid patients. Also, the demand for Remdesivir has spiked. But manufacturing takes time and we will ensure we don't face any shortage," the CM said, adding that he has requested the Centre for help with smooth transportation of oxygen from other states.

"I am writing to PM to allow Air Force to supply oxygen," said Thackeray.

He also added that the state has requested the Centre to allow small companies to pay GST with a three-month delay.

"This wave is massive. We don't even know if we are close to the peak (of Covid cases). Vaccination drive has been ramped up but that will not help to recover from this wave but prevent another such wave in future," he added.

Faced with the shortage of medical professionals in the state, Thackeray also appealed to retired doctors and health professionals to come and help in fighting the covid-19 war.

As part of the Break the Chain restrictions, the CM said all business except essential services will remain closed tomorrow onwards in Maharashtra.

The local trains and buses would continue, but only essential service providers would be allowed to use the public transport. "The restriction is aimed at preventing unnecessary commutation," the chief minister said, adding that petrol pumps, financial institutions associated with SEBI, and construction work will continue.

Hotel and restaurants will remain closed, only take-away and home deliveries would be allowed, he added.

Maharashtra government will be providing three kg wheat and two kg rice free for the next one month to every poor and needy person while coronavirus-induced restrictions are in place.

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