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2,598 fresh infections take state tally closer to 60,000

By Swapnil Rawal, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAY 29, 2020 12:16 AM IST

Maharashtra on Thursday inched closer to the 60,000 Covid-19 cases mark as 2,598 fresh infections took the state tally to 59,546. With 85 more fatalities recorded, Maharashtra is also within touching distance of the bleak 2,000 mark for deaths due to the disease. The state has so far seen 1,982 deaths. There are 38,939 active cases in the state.

Of the new cases on Thursday, Mumbai recorded 1,467 new infections, while Pune recorded 282 cases and Thane 439. Of the fatalities recorded on Thursday, 38 were in Mumbai, four each in Vasai-Virar and Thane, 10 in Pune, nine in Satara, seven in Solapur, five in Akola, three in Aurangabad, and one each in Raigad, Jalgaon and Nanded.

However, the state health department said that of the total deaths reported on Thursday, 37 occurred in the past two days and the remaining 48 deaths are between May 15 and May 25. Out of the 48 deaths, 22 were recorded in Mumbai, five in Solapur, four in Akola, three each in Aurangabad, Satara, Thane and Vasai-Virar, one each in Jalgaon, Nanded, Navi Mumbai, Pune and Raigad.

The state government is expecting a surge in the number of cases in the state in the next 10 to 15 days due to the allowances for the movement of people given in the last week. State government officials said the numbers would peak by mid-June. Officials said the reason for the increase would be further lockdown relaxations that would happen after May 31 and with the movement of people in the state, along with those coming into the state.

State health minister Rajesh Tope said that the movement of people from red-zone areas into other districts has led to an increase in Covid-19 cases elsewhere in the state. He added that the numbers are expected to surge in the next few days, but expressed confidence in the machinery and measures adopted to keep the spread under control.

“[Overall] It is expected that the cases would increase, primarily, due to the movement of people. How long can we keep things under lockdown? With people from Mumbai going into other districts, the number of cases has gone up. For instance, Jalna had a handful of cases [earlier this month]. 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,” said Tope.

Maharashtra has been clocking over 2,000 cases for 11 days straight. After clocking over 3,000 cases on May 24, the cases recorded on May 26 and May 27 were relatively lower at 2,091 and 2,190, respectively. However, state health commissioner Anup Kumar Yadav said, “We do not want to read the data [of last few days]. It may be a temporary decrease. We should not be excited if the numbers go up or go down for two days. The lockdown is opening up. There is movement of people, so there could be an increase in the number of cases.”

The state government has started a review and planning for further relaxations on curbs from June 1. Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday had already hinted restrictions will be eased on a “trial” basis.

Senior bureaucrats said that the guidelines for the lifting of curbs are expected by May 30. A senior bureaucrat said that the government is preparing infrastructure to support the increase in cases once restrictions are further relaxed. He said that the government is going to lift lockdown restrictions after May 31 in a “gradual and calibrated manner”, but Covid-19 cases are bound to go up as this happens. “It is obvious that once further relaxation is provided to people, cases would go up. Our top consideration is to look at the extent and acceleration of the spread in the state,” he said.

The state government has also made requests to the Centre to start Mumbai suburban train services to ferry essential services staffers in the civic body. If approved by the Centre, the access points of train stations will be manned and only essential services staff will be allowed to travel in locals that will run in the morning and evening.

Meanwhile, 698 people recovered on Thursday, taking the tally of recovered patients to 18,616. The recovery rate in the state is 31.26%, while the mortality rate is at 3.32%. Currently, 6,12,745 people are under home quarantine and 35,122 people are in institutional quarantine, the state health department said.

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