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Maharashtra to extend lockdown, but with some relaxations

Maharashtra recorded 21,273 new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases on Thursday, even as the state government decided to extend the current lockdown, in view of the rapid rise in infections in more than a dozen districts
By Faisal Malik and Naresh Kamath, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAY 28, 2021 12:17 AM IST

Maharashtra recorded 21,273 new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases on Thursday, even as the state government decided to extend the current lockdown, in view of the rapid rise in infections in more than a dozen districts.

The state, however, will provide a few relaxations — it may extend the restricted time limit of four hours for buying essential commodities and may also allow opening of shops that will become essential during the monsoon.

The decision is likely to be taken in the next two days, officials said.

The current state-wide lockdown, which was imposed on April 22, is ending on June 1 at 7am. The issue of extending the lockdown was discussed in the state cabinet meeting held on Thursday.

Currently, citizens of the sate can’t step out unless they need medical attention, or are working in an essential sector, or want to buy essential commodities. That too within restricted timings — between 7am and 11am.

State health minister Rajesh Tope said there was no chance of lifting the lockdown as there are many districts where cases are on the rise. The state government can provide some relaxation in the restrictions, which will be decided by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray after having deliberations with the state task force, he added.

A statement issued by the chief minister office (CMO) stated, “Though the positivity rate of the state is coming down, 10 to15 districts are reporting rapid growth in Covid-19 cases. There is also a rise in cases of mucormycosis. Active cases of the state have dropped to the tally of highest cases recorded during the first wave. But we still need to be careful. Instead of completely lifting the lockdown, we will have to extend it from June 1 and also provide relaxations in the restrictions wherever necessary. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray directed the state administration to take steps accordingly after discussing the same in the state cabinet meeting held on Thursday.”

“The positivity rate of 21 districts is higher than the average positivity rate of the state. It means they have more patients, which also means their beds occupancy is higher than others and both are part of the two major norms being considered before imposing lockdown. This means lockdown cannot be lifted completely. It has to be continued but with some relaxation. We may provide more time for buying essentials and allowing a few types of shops to function in the same limited period along with the establishments related to essential commodities,”Tope said.

“The detailed discussion on relaxation could not be held today. The chief minister will also have deliberations with the state task force and take a decision in the next two days,” he added.

The weekly average positivity rate of Maharashtra is 0.47 percent. The districts with high weekly average positivity rate include Sindhudurga, Ratnagiri, Kolhapur, Buldhana, Satara, Sangli, Osmanabad, Amravati and Beed.

“Going by today’s situation, it is very difficult for the state to significantly ease down restrictions. The Chief minister is also not very comfortable with the idea. Thus, ‘Mission Begin Again’ is likely to start from June 1, but to a very limited extent. We may extend restricted timings of four to six or seven hours for the people to step out for buying essentials and may also allow shops that become essential during the rainy season,” said a senior official privy to the development.

Dr Amin Kaba, who is associated with various top hospitals in Mumbai, said the Government is the best decider in these matters. “This the decision best left to the Government as they are very well aware of the ground realities. At the same time, the vaccination drive should be sped up as this will have a big impact in lowering the cases as well as the death rate,” said Dr Kaba.

There were 21,273 new cases on Thursday with the total number of cases reaching to 5,672,180 since the outbreak of the virus last year. There were 2,61,151 tests conducted on Thursday.

There are currently 301,041 active patients across the state, of which Pune tops with 43,869 patients, followed by Mumbai with 28,683 active patients. The death toll has now reached 92,225 with Mumbai leading with 14,720 deaths, followed by Pune with 12,112.

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