Updated: January 23, 2022 7:59:37 am
Although the state Education Department has announced reopening of schools from January 24, schools in Pune district will remain shut for another week, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar said on Saturday.
Pawar said although he was in favour of reopening schools at the beginning of the Covid review meeting, after he and other public representatives were apprised of the Covid-19 situation in the district, it was unanimously decided to postpone the reopening by another week.
“I was of the opinion that the schools should reopen. However, after the presentation about the situation in the district was made by (Divisional Commissioner) Saurabh Rao, public representatives such as mayors of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, and president of Pune ZP opined that we should wait for another week before schools are reopened. It was also said that Pune’s peak is yet to come. The fact that there are a few holidays next week was also considered,” said Pawar.
The Maharashtra government had, on January 8, ordered closure of schools in view of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the state and amid fears of the Omicron variant. The government had ordered school closure till February 15.
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But last week, School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad announced that schools in the state will reopen for students of classes 1 to 12 from January 24.
Pawar also said that although the government has not made it mandatory for local residents to take the Covid-19 vaccine, it was trying its best to ensure that each and every person took it.
“We are pressing for 100 per cent vaccination because although people have the freedom to decide, those who don’t take it not only endanger their own health but also the health of others. So it’s not a matter of individual well-being but the well-being of a family and community,” said Pawar.
He said that he has instructed Divisional Commissioner (Pune) Saurabh Rao to expand the ‘Covid Free Village’ competition launched by Pune Zilla Parishad to other districts in Pune Division.
“There are 44 gram panchayats in Pune district, where not a single Covid-19 case has been reported. Of these, 17 villages are in Bhor tehsil alone. I have instructed Saurabh Rao, the divisional commissioner for Pune, to take steps to expand this competition — under which villages performing good on various parameters are awarded cash prices — to other districts as well,” said Pawar.
On Saturday, Pune district reported 16,362 new cases, most of which — 8,246 (50.4%) — were from PMC areas. As many as 4,875 (29.8%) cases were reported from PCMC, 2,504 from Pune Rural, 550 in Councils and 187 in Cantonment areas.
The case tally on Saturday, while still high, was marginally lower than the 16,618 new cases reported on Friday, the highest single-day increase in cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
The district also saw 15 deaths due to the infection, 9 in PMC areas while PCMC and Pune Rural areas reported three deaths each, according to data released by the Health Department of Pune Zilla Parishad.
The number of active cases in the district stands at 89,673. Pune district has recorded 13,29,378 Covid cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
The Pune district administration has so far administered 1.59 crore vaccine doses. In the 15-18 age group, 51 per cent children have been fully vaccinated.
Pawar also instructed officials to allow only fully vaccinated tourists at Bhimashankar temple and said that a similar decision will be taken for Lenyadri caves. Pawar said that hawkers and stall owners should be allowed to do their businesses at the tourist spots.
“Tourist spots are now open but we will keep a close watch and take an appropriate decision if social distancing rules are not followed,” he said.
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