The lockdown to contain the second wave of Covid-19 will continue beyond June 1, but there may be relaxations in the restrictions. An extensive discussion on this was conducted in the cabinet meeting held on Wednesday.
In framing the guidelines for the next phase of the lockdown that will be announced later this week, the state government will also take into consideration Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla’s instructions to all chief secretaries that though there is a drop in fresh cases, the number of active cases is still very high and any relaxation must be considered at an appropriate time in a graded manner after assessing the local requirements and situation.
A senior officer of the state relief and rehabilitation department said, “In Maharashtra, the number of active cases on May 27 is much higher than the number of active cases on May 1. The situation in districts like Satara, Ahmednagar and Beed is going out of control. ‘’
Inputs from various municipal commissioners, police and health department will be taken before declaring relaxations, officials said.
Some ministers were also of the opinion that with the sowing season approaching and the monsoon predicted to arrive on time, some relaxations must be given in rural areas for the supply of seeds and fertilizers, and at the same time ensure social distancing.
Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that the positivity rate of 21 districts is higher than the state’s positivity rate and availability of beds is an issue in these districts.
“We can’t remove lockdown totally. Some relaxations will be given in lockdown. Whether to increase timings of shops or give more time for citizens (to be outside), we could not decide. This variant of Covid-19 virus is new. The CM will meet the state task force and decide. The detailing will be done in the next two days,” he said.
Tope said that he is writing to Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan to have a proper policy for procurement of vaccines.
He said that in the state global tender, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik and AstraZeneca had filed through market agencies, and that some companies have not given rates and some companies have not given the schedule. “We will ask questions again to them. Pfizer had written to Government of Punjab that no states would get vaccine and they would supply only to the Centre. Hence I want a proper policy,” Tope said.
On the vaccination drive, he said that the present focus is on completing vaccination for 45-plus age group. In certain districts, the percentage of vaccination is much less and hence the stocks will be diverted to these areas.