Maharashtra records 4,342 new Covid-19 cases
Maharashtra recorded 4,342 fresh Covid-19 infections, pushing the count to 6,473,674 on Thursday. The tally of active cases reduced to 50,607 as 4,755 recoveries were reported in the past 24 hours. The state also saw 55 Covid-19 casualties, taking the toll to 137,551. Ahmednagar reported the highest toll with 14 deaths. It was followed by Satara with nine fatalities.
While there are predictions that the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to hit the state this month, the steady rate of daily infections has become a cause for concern for officials. Maharashtra still has over 50,000 active cases and they are hovering between 50,000 and 51,000 for the past week. On August 24, the tally of active cases was 49,752.
Meanwhile, the paediatric task force has discussed with the state school education department officials on reopening schools in the state. They want to ensure that schools are fully prepared and physical classes will not lead to a spike in cases.
Bachchu Kadu, minister of state for school education, said that the decision on reopening schools would be taken in the next two days. “A meeting in this regard will be held in the next few days. Schools have started in other states of the country and should be started in the state as well. But the decision will have to be taken carefully considering the fact that Maharashtra has the highest number of active cases after Kerala,” Kadu said.
Dr Bakul Parekh, a member of the paediatric task force, said, “We also want the schools to be reopened, but with certain precautions as we are concerned about their health. Children are definitely suffering from mental health issues and nutrition and thus schools should be reopened, but in a safe environment. To ensure the same, we have recommended that teaching and non-teaching staff of schools should be vaccinated; there must be proper seating arrangements in the class and one bench should be reserved for one student only.
“The schools should divide students in two batches and they should be called for physical classes on alternate days. For example, half the students can be called today and the rest tomorrow and at the same time online classes can also be continued. The sports activities which require close contact should be avoided. Schools can also be started in a staggered manner by allowing some classes now and increasing them later based on the situation and if in case any rise is observed they can be stopped immediately,” he said.
Most importantly, classes should be sanitised and there must be a monitoring system in place in all the schools. The school staff should also be trained to deal in case of a medical emergency, added Dr Parekh.
Physical classes in schools were shut in Maharashtra from March 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the state. On July 12, schools in rural areas were allowed to resume physical classes for Class 8 to 12 students where Covid-19 cases are minimal. Nearly 17,701 schools resumed offline classes in rural areas where Covid-19 cases are on decline, the officials informed.
Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said that the state government planned to fully vaccinate all teaching and non-teaching staff before the reopening of schools. “We have decided that until a decision is taken on school reopening, we will fully vaccinate teaching and non-teaching staff in schools that include all the zilla parishad or government schools and aided and unaided schools,” he said.
On August 29, the state health minister Rajesh Tope also said they are working on vaccinating all the teaching and non-teaching by September 5, which will be their first step towards reopening schools in the state.
Going by the prediction made by experts, the state government is expecting a rise in Covid-19 cases between September 15 and the first week of October, which could also be the beginning of the third wave.
On Wednesday, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray during the presentation by the health department on the current Covid-19 situation told his cabinet colleagues that the central government had asked the state to take due precautions during upcoming festivals. He said that the state needs to take care to keep the spread of the Covid-19 under check. The CM is expected to hold a review meeting with the state-appointed task force of doctors and officials from health and other departments in the next few days to discuss the steps in the wake of the possibility of the rise in cases.
He will also convene a medical conference with doctors across the state in the wake of the potential third wave on September 5. The state government and the members of the task force will guide the doctors over the precautions and line of treatment during the potential wave.
The central government has projected the Covid-19 cases in the third wave to rise to 6 million from 4 million during the second wave, resulting in the oxygen demand to treat patients to rise to 3,500 to 4,000 metric tonnes a day.
On Thursday, Mumbai clocked 440 cases and reported a total of 745,010 cases till date. It also recorded three fatalities, taking the toll to 15,984.
In the last 24 hours, the state tested 172,579 samples and had a positivity rate of 2.51%. However, the overall positivity rate of the state stood at 11.92%, according to the data issued by the state health department.
The state also vaccinated 69,909 people on Thursday and has administered a total 60,754,445 doses till date, according to the data available on Co-Win portal.