June 24, 2021 12:05:05 am
FOR THE first time since the second wave of Covid-19 began, Maharashtra’s weekly positivity rate has dropped to below five per cent, as per a new report submitted to the state cabinet on Wednesday. However, health authorities are now on their toes with the Delta Plus variant of SARS-CoV2 being detected in Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Jalgaon, Thane and Mumbai. Whether this variant will weaken or maintain itself will only be understood after results of the next cycle of genome sequencing are released in the first week of July.
The state, in the week from June 16 to 22, reported a positivity rate of 4.54 per cent as against 8.47 per cent in the week from May 26 to June 1. While Kolhapur, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sangli, Satara, Sindhudurg and Pune districts have shown a decline in infections, the weekly positivity rate continues to be above the state average. Till June 21, there were 1.24 lakh active cases in Maharashtra.
The weekly positivity rate in Kolhapur has dropped to 10.88 per cent (June 16 to 22) as against 16.04 per cent (May 26-June 1). Likewise, in Raigad, weekly positivity rate has dropped from 18.59 per cent to 9.35 per cent, 17.32 per cent to7.97 per cent in Ratnagiri, 16.10 per cent to 7.66 per cent in Sangli, and 16.73 per cent to 7.52 per cent in Satara. Weekly positivity rate in Pune is at 7.38 per cent.
State surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate told The Indian Express that this was the first time during the second surge that weekly positivity rate had dropped below 5 per cent. “During the peak, positivity rate was more than 25 per cent, and now we are on the descending path. Hence, the naturally vulnerable population has reduced,” Dr Awate said.
He, however, pointed out that genomic sequencing is important to identify new variants of SARS-CoV-2. “After detection of 21 cases of the Delta Plus variant, we have issued guidelines to concerned districts about containment measures, aggressive tracing of those in contact with the index cases, vaccination status of such persons and breakthrough infections. Samples will be referred for further genomic sequencing, we are also looking for re-infection cases and clinical profile of Delta plus cases, so that we can understand whether it is more virulent than the present strain,” Dr Awate said.
The state directorate of medical education and research has tied up with CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) for genome sequencing of samples from across 36 districts for a period of three months. Pune’s BJ Medical College is the central coordinating lab and, in May, over 3,000 samples collected from all the districts were sent to CSIR-IGIB for genome sequencing. Another 3,000 samples will be sent by the end of June for the next cycle of sequencing, results of which will be out in the first week of July. Authorities said this exercise would help them understand whether it was an isolated episode.
In one day, 6.02 lakh doses administered
According to Dr Pradeep Vyas, additional chief secretary (health), Maharashtra, the state has administered the highest number of vaccine doses in a single day. On Wednesday, 6.02 lakh doses were administered across the state till 7 pm. Dr Vyas said this was great work by district teams. Till June 22, the state has administered a total of 2.86 crore vaccine doses.
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