May 31, 2021 2:23:39 am
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday announced the expected extension of the lockdown in the state from June 1 till June 15, explaining that the number of coronavirus patients in the state remained high despite the declining numbers of fresh cases.
He also indicated that the state was planning to resume vaccinations soon for the 18-44 years age group, which has been put on hold because of shortage of vaccines as the state diverted available stock to second dose vaccinations for people over 45 years.
“There is nothing worse than having to impose restrictions on our people. Unwillingly we are taking this tough decision to extend the lockdown as there is nothing more important than the safety of citizens,” Thackeray said in a live-streamed address on social media.
The CM said that despite the decreasing number of cases and a 92 per cent recovery rate, the reported cases on May 26 were 24,752 and on September 17 last year, the state had reported 24,896 cases, the highest single-day number of the first wave.
He said many parts of the state, especially in rural areas, continued to see high numbers, and there would be a tightening of restrictions in these places, while places where the positivity rate had dropped below 10 per cent — that includes Mumbai — could see some relaxations.
Accordingly, the state government issued guidelines late Sunday that among the corporations of Greater Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan Dombivali, Vasai-Virar, Nagpur, Nasik and Nagpur, wherever positivity rate was equal to or less than 10 per cent, and occupancy of oxygenated beds in hospitals is less than 40 per cent, shops would remain open from 7 am to 2 pm now. The opening of non-essential shops is to be left to local authorities, but wherever allowed to open, their closing time will be 2 pm.
In such places, delivery of non-essential items by e-commerce portals will be permitted to resume. Restrictions on movement will kick in from 3 pm. Government offices can function with 25 per cent attendance, and any relaxation is to be decided by local authorities.
In areas where positivity rate is higher than 20 per cent, and there is more than 75 per cent occupancy of oxygenated beds, the earlier restrictions will apply. Additionally, district borders will be sealed with no inbound or outbound travel.
Thackeray said people could not afford to drop their guard despite reduction in the number of cases. The government was already preparing for the third wave, he said, and asked people to be careful as well.
“People’s participation is important, a government cannot fight the pandemic alone,” he said.
Maharashtra recorded 18,600 Covid-19 cases Sunday, the numbers dropping below the 20,000 mark for the first time this year since March 16. The daily positivity rate is down to 7.3 per cent even as the state continues to test over 2.5 lakh samples daily.
Daily deaths reported by districts, however, continue to remain high. On Sunday the state added 814 deaths due to Covid to its progressive death numbers. Of these, 272 occurred in the last 48 hours, and state officials said 130 occurred last week. The remaining 412 deaths were reported from various districts from before last week. Of these 412 deaths, maximum were reported from Pune (68), Latur (54), Palghar (40), Nashik (29), Bhandara (27), Kolhapur (25), Satara (20) and rest spread over 19 districts.
The death toll has risen in rural districts like Beed, Latur, rural parts of Kolhapur, Gadchiroli, Sindhudurg, Nashik and Solapur.
In comparison, the burden of deaths has reduced in urban areas. On Sunday Mumbai reported 1062 new Covid-19 cases with 2 deaths, Pune 526 cases and eight deaths, Nagpur 202 cases and one death while Thane had 147 cases with zero deaths. These four cities have the largest share of cases in the state.
The total death toll has touched 94,884. Data shows there are over a lakh patients hospitalised, with over 54,000 in critical condition. There are over 7000 patients on ventilator and over 12,000 on oxygen support.
The total Covid-19 burden in the state is now 57.31 lakh. Most of the fresh cases are from Mumbai, Ahmednagar, Pune rural, Satara, Kolhapur, Sangli, while Vidarbha region is noting a decline after a second resurgence in cases last month in districts like Amravati, Buldhana and Yavatmal.
“While the recovery rate is better and case fatality ratio is better than what it was at the peak of the first wave, the difference in the second wave is that this mutant strain of COVID-19 has a higher transmission rate, and people are taking longer to recover,” Thackeray explained.
The CM also spoke about the shortage of vaccinations, and the “challenge” that this was posing in the state’s efforts to vaccinate all eligible people. However, he assured that the state was making efforts to resume vaccination of the 18-44 years age group.
Thackeray spoke about a new government initiative dubbed “My Village Corona Free”, inspired by the successful efforts of Sarpanch Popatrao Pawar to keep his village Hiware Bazar in Ahmednagar district free of the infection.
Thackeray demanded a uniform education policy in the country and stressed the need for revolutionary decisions in the field of education in view of the pandemic. “Education policy should be uniform for the country, especially for examinations that impact the future of students like Class 12. We have decided to cancel Class 10 exams and will soon take a decision on the Class 12 exams. But I would appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a call on having a uniform policy in education sector,” he said.
The CM said his government will take a decision on rehabilitating children orphaned due to COVID-19.
With PTI inputs
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