Maharashtra goes past 2 million Covid-19 cases
Maharashtra on Thursday crossed the 2 million mark for Covid-19 cases 319 days since the first infection on March 9, 2020. The state recorded 2,886 fresh cases, pushing the count to 2,000,878, as it took 132 days to go from 1 million to 2 million infections, quicker than the 187 days for the first million, breached on September 11.
Although fresh infections in the state have hit a plateau in the past few months, there are still 45,622 active cases, leading experts to say the state still has a long way towards attaining safety. Experts said they were worried over citizens not following Covid-19 appropriate behaviour as the impact of vaccination, which started on Saturday, will start showing only after months.
Meanwhile, a comparative analysis of figures also showed a decline in average number of daily cases in Maharashtra. In November, the average was 4,775, which fell to 3,892 in December and in January, as of Thursday, it further dropped to 3,174.
Dr Subhash Salunkhe, who chairs the Maharashtra communicable diseases prevention and control technical committee, said, “Although we are getting fewer daily cases, the number of active infections is still quite high. It simply means we need to be more careful because the situation is not what we anticipate,” he said.
“Starting a vaccination drive does not mean that cases will start going down. It will happen only when common people start getting immunised, which is still far away. The next few months, healthcare providers and frontline workers are going to be vaccinated,” he added.
Dr Rahul Pandit, member of the state-appointed task force for the clinical management of critical patients, said, “I agree the situation [Covid-19 cases] is not improving, but the position we are in is better than before. It is going to take some more time before we have full control of the situation. The vaccination drive, as it reaches the common people, will start showing positive effects,” he added.
There was no drive on Thursday as planned by the state. It has decided to conduct vaccination sessions only four day a week — Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday.
Meanwhile, healthcare providers are hesitant over inoculation, concerned about the vaccine’s safety. Many doctors, who have signed up for the shots have refused to turn up at vaccination centres, officials said.
The issue was discussed in the cabinet meeting held on Wednesday. “We were informed that doctors are refusing to get vaccinated owing to safety concerns. The problem is if doctors are not ready to take vaccines then how will we convince other health workers and the general public to take shots,” said a senior minister.
Following this, state health minister Rajesh Tope declared to launch an information, education and communication (IEC) drive to counsel health workers to improve the turnout.
Dr Salunkhe believes the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) is responsible for this situation as they should have strategised the drive in such a way that all the concerns would have been resolved before its commencement.