Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday urged people to use masks while going out of their homes and appealed to former defence health services personnel, retired nurses and ward boys to join the "war" against coronavirus.
In his address to the state via live webcast, Thackeray regretted the inconvenience caused to citizens due to the lockdown, but said "we don't have any other option".
Appealing citizens to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic, he said, "People should inculcate a habit using homemade masks while stepping out of their homes to buy essentials now, and also later when the situation improves."
He urged former defence health services personnel, nurses and ward boys who have retired from service and those who are trained in medical service but don't have jobs to come forward to help the state in the "war" against coronavirus.
"Maharashtra needs you," he added. He said those who wish to help the state in fighting the virus should give their contact numbers on the email ID Covidyoddha@gmail.com.
He said separate clinics for ailments like cough, cold and fever will be set up in every ward and 'COVID hospitals' will also be set up to ensure there is no transmission.
Treatment will be given separately to asymptomatic patients, those showing mild symptoms and those with severe symptoms and other illnesses. He said there is shortage of ventilators, masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits the world over.
"Even the US is asking for medicines from us. Fortunately, we haven't felt shortage of equipment," he said.
Stating that humanity is the only religion in present times, Thackeray informed that the state government is providing food and shelter to over five lakh migrant workers.
He also said the central government scheme for providing food grains is only for distribution of rice to beneficiaries of the food security scheme. Without naming state BJP leaders who have been critical of the state government, he said many people have the misunderstanding that the central scheme is for all food grains. The supply of rice under the food security scheme has already begun, he said.
Thackeray said he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the need for supplying food grains at concessional rates to those with annual income upto Rs 1 lakh.
He asked people to spend their time at home by exercising, since fitness is necessary to be able to face the future economic challenges with determination.
He also appealed to people, especially the high risk category ones with ailments like heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes to maintain dietary restrictions.
"It is now four weeks since the first coronavirus patients were found in Mumbai and Pune. The numbers have been increasing, but it is because the government is going to people to conduct their tests. I want the graph to decline," he said. Maharashtra has so far reported 1,078 COVID-19 cases.
He also thanked collectors of various districts, divisional commissioners and other bureaucrats for extending support to the official machinery in tackling the crisis. He said the state Cabinet meeting was for the first time held via video conference on Tuesday.
"We were maintaining social distancing. Many of us saw each other for the first time since the budget session ended last month. But we are in each other's minds and unitedly working as a team," he said.