Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday announced a “strict Janata Curfew” in the state till May 15, saying that “we have to completely shut everything” in order to “to break the chain of transmission” of the virus.

Chouhan said the impositon of a lockdown was necessary due to the state’s positivity rate of over 18%, adding that “we can’t shut things for too long”, PTI reported.

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The chief minister also announced free treatment of COVID-19 patients from poor financial background, common citizens and middle class population in Madhya Pradesh, an official said. A financial package under the Ayushman Bharat scheme will be unveiled on Friday.  

Also, the BJP-led state government in the state intends to sign an agreement with private hospitals for free CT-scans and other tests for patients, an official said. 

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Chouhan said that the state’s health infrastructure is being prepared for a potential third wave of infections. “Oxygen plants are being set up in each district. A total of 95 such plants will be established in the state,” he said. 

He also warned against hoarding and black-marketing of medicines and overcharging patients, saying offenders will face strict punishment.  

Madhya Pradesh recorded 12,421 new COVID-19 cases and 86 deaths on Thursday. The total number of infections in the state now stands at 6,37,406, with the death toll pushed to 6,160. 

12,965 recoveries were also recorded in the last 24 hours, taking that tally to 5,42,632. There are a total of 88,614 active cases in the state.