Maharashtra: Lockdown relaxation could be behind rise in Covid-19 tally
Maharashtra has inched closer to the 60,000-mark for Covid-19 cases as 2,598 new infections took the state’s tally to 59,546, with health officials saying the easing of the lockdown played a key role in the increase.
State health minister Rajesh Tope said the movement of people from “red zone” areas to other districts led to an increase in Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra. The numbers are expected to surge over the next few days, he said, but expressed confidence in the machinery and measures adopted to keep the spread under control.
“It is expected the cases would increase, primarily due to the movement of people. How long can we keep things under lockdown? With people from Mumbai going to other districts, the number of cases has gone up,” Tope said on Thursday.
“For instance, Jalna had a handful of cases. Today, it has increased to 110. Therefore, in all districts, the testing of people has gone up. We have already strengthened the health infrastructure and other things in these areas. We will have to increase the containment zones in these districts. We are confident that it will be brought under control.”
The Maharashtra government expects the surge in Covid-19 cases to continue for the next 10 to 15 days, in conjunction with the movement of people within the state as well as people coming into the state from other parts of the country. According to an estimation by the state health department, the numbers will peak by mid-June.
Mumbai on Thursday reported 1,438 coronavirus cases and 38 deaths. The total cases in the city now stand at 35,485, with 1,135 deaths.
Against the backdrop of the increase in Covid-19 cases in Mumbai, almost all intensive care unit (ICU) beds available are occupied. As of May 28, of the 645 Covid Care ICU beds, 99% were occupied.
About 65% of the 4,292 beds with oxygen support were occupied, while 72% of 373 ventilators were in use, data from Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) showed.
While it is blaming the easing of the lockdown for the surge in Coronavirus cases, the state government, on the other hand, has started a review and planning for further relaxations on curbs from June 1.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had on Wednesday hinted restrictions will be eased on a “trial” basis.
The state government has requested the Centre to start Mumbai suburban train services to ferry staffer of essential services in the civic body. If approved by the Centre, access points of train stations will be manned and only essential services staff will be allowed on local trains that will run in the morning and evening.
The Maharashtra government is also contemplating reopening schools in a month. As of now, state officials say they will wait for the Centre’s position on the next phase of relaxations and make a decision accordingly.