Over 1 million cases, 19K deaths in 29 days in Maharashtra
Maharashtra on Saturday saw its 10th consecutive day of fewer than 30,000 Covid-19 cases.
Despite these welcome figures, a sign that the second wave has most likely receded in India’s worst-hit state, this month has already seen more than a million cases and close to 20,000 casualties, with two days to go. The number of casualties recorded in May is the highest tally for a month since the pandemic hit the state last March. Till May 29, the state has reported 1,107,770 cases and 19,738 deaths, according to statistics from the state health department.
The state on Saturday recorded 20,295 Covid-19 infections, pushing the count to 5,713,215. The tally of active cases dipped to 276,573 with 31,964 recoveries in the past 24 hours. The state saw 443 more Covid-19 casualties, taking the toll to 94,030. Satara reported the highest toll with 51 deaths. Solapur and Kolhapur reported 37 casualties each, followed by Mumbai with 25 deaths.
The state government has already decided to extend lockdown restrictions, considering the rise in cases in more than a dozen districts. It, however, will provide a few relaxations in the existing restrictions. It may extend the restricted timings of four hours for buying essential commodities and may also allow shops that become essential during monsoon. An order to this effect is likely to be issued on May 30, officials said. The lockdown is ending on June 1 at 7am. A full lockdown was imposed in the state on April 22.
The issue of lockdown extension was discussed in the state cabinet meeting held on Thursday.
Currently, people 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.
Although the positivity rate of the state is going down, the case fatality rate (CFR) has been one the rise since July 2020. On May 29, the CFR was recorded at 1.65%, up from 1.49% reported on May 1. In the past three months — February, March and April — the CFRs were 2.42%, 1.94% and 1.5%.
Previously, April had reported 1,723,249 cases and 12,496 fatalities. Mumbai also clocked 1,038 cases and reported a total of 703,560 cases till date.
In the past 24 hours, the state tested 258,799 samples and had a positivity rate of 7.84%. However, the overall positivity rate of the state stood at 16.51%, according to the data issued by the state health department on Saturday.
“Going by today’s situation, it is very difficult for the state to significantly ease down restrictions. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is also not very much 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 hours 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.
Meanwhile, the state government has placed a purchase order for two million vaccine doses, primarily for the inoculation of the people in the 18-45 category. However, a formal decision is yet to be taken when the drive for the people in the age group will recommence. The inoculation for 18-45 category is temporarily suspended since May 13 due to lack of adequate vaccine stock for second doses of people over 45 years.
The Maharashtra government is expecting over six million vaccine doses in June. This includes 1,947,550 doses of both Covishield and Covaxin from the Centre under free quota. Another 2,070,530 doses of both vaccines is to be purchased from the manufacturing companies. Besides that, the state is also expecting another two million doses under the Centre’s free quota in the second half of June.
A senior bureaucrat said t the state has not decided on restarting the vaccination drive for 18-45 category, but a decision is expected in a day or two. “We are going to get enough vaccines in June but we also have a backlog of second doses. We have placed a purchase order of 2 million doses as well; whether to use it for 18-45 or for above 45 year category is still to be made. A decision to restart inoculation for 18-45 hasn’t been made yet, but we will evaluate the situation and decide on it in a day or two,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
Meanwhile, 296,513 doses were administered till 8pm on Saturday across the state in 4,179 centres. So far, the state has administered 22,226,917 doses, of which 4,520,907 beneficiaries have been fully vaccinated.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray asked doctors to ensure that home-quarantined Covid-19 patients should be closely monitored so that they don’t get serious and hospitals are not burdened unnecessarily. He also said that the patients who need hospitalization should be moved without wasting time.
He was speaking while inaugurating a two-day workshop organised by the Maharashtra Medical Council (MMC). Around 21,000 doctors participated in the workshop. Thackeray said the family doctors have a responsibility to properly identify the patient in time. “We need to see if the patients are getting proper treatment at home, especially in the primary and middle stages when hospitalization is not required. The doctors should also be careful about when the patients need to be shifted to the hospital,” he said.