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The emergence of 21 cases of the Delta Plus variant in Ratnagiri (nine), Jalgaon (seven), Mumbai (two), and one case each in Palghar, Thane, and Sindhudurg districts pose another threat to the Maharashtra
Maharashtra reported over 10,000 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, a figure that began rising after a steady decline was witnessed between 16 and 21 June. The rise in cases has raised alarms in the state, which is also seeing the emergence of the Delta Plus variant. This, at a time when cities and towns in the city are continuing with a five-level unlocking process designed by the state government.
Maharashtra’s COVID-19 numbers
Maharashtra’s weekly positivity rate dropped to below five percent, as per a new report submitted to the state cabinet on Wednesday, the lowest since the pandemic began. The state reported a positivity rate of 4.54 percent between 16 and 22 June as against 8.47 percent between 26 May and 1 June.
The number of daily cases showed a steady decline going from over 10,000 infections on 16 June to 6,270 cases on 21 June. However, on 22 June, daily infections rose to 8,470 and breached the 10,000-mark on 23 June, the highest since 4 June. On Wednesday, Mumbai alone reported 864 cases.
Though the cases though fell below 10,000 as per the state govt bulletin released on Thursday, at 9,844 fresh infections, the new COVID-19 cases are still higher than the average of the daily cases reported between 16 June and 22 June.
On Thursday, the state’s cumulative infection count crossed 60 lakh figures, while 197 patients succumbed to the infection, the health department said.
Health experts and officials have blamed high population density, mobility and mass flouting of COVID-19 norms for the uptick in infections, according to India Today.
Vaccination drive in Maharashtra
Maharashtra, once a state that had to shut down some of its COVID-19 centres, administered the highest number of vaccine doses in a single day on 23 June. On Wednesday, 6.02 lakh doses were administered across the state till 7 pm. Till 22 June, the state has administered a total of 2.86 crore vaccine doses.
On Tuesday, the Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government and BMC to formulate a policy to keep a check on and take action against fake vaccination drives.
The Bench was referring to a fraudulent inoculation drive conducted at a housing society in Mumbai’s Kandivali, where close to 400 residents paid Rs 4.56 lakh to the organisers. The court was informed today that over 2,000 people were victims of fake vaccination drives in Mumbai.
Delta Plus variant adds to Maharashtra’s worries
As Maharashtra reported at least 21 of the country’s 40 Delta Plus variants, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope warned that the ‘variant of concern’ has a higher transmissibility rate.
Of the 21 cases in Maharashtra, nine are in Ratnagiri, seven in Jalgaon, two in Mumbai, and one case each in Palghar, Thane, and Sindhudurg districts. Authorities are also trying to study why Ratnagiri and Jalgaon have reported such a high number of cases, Tope said.
There is no sufficient data available to be alarmed about the ‘Delta Plus’ variant, Maharashtra COVID-19 task force member Dr Shashank Joshi said, adding that people cannot stop exercising caution and still need to adhere to all COVID-19 norms.
The state directorate of medical education and research has tied up with the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) for genome sequencing of samples from across 36 districts for a period of three months.
Pune’s BJ Medical College is the central coordinating lab, which collected over 3,000 samples from all the districts in May. Another 3,000 samples will be sent by the end of June for the next cycle of sequencing.
Five-level unlocking system in Maharashtra
Maharashtra had announced a five-step unlock plan earlier this month, which came into effect from 7 June. Restrictions were decided according to the weekly positivity rate and oxygen bed occupancies. Here are the five unlock levels and what’s allowed:
- Level 1: Districts with less than five percent positivity rate and below 25 percent oxygen bed occupancy will be allowed to unlock fully with no restrictions. Restaurants, malls, salons, movie theatres and shops are allowed to function. .
- Level 2: Districts with less than five percent positivity and oxygen beds occupancy of 25 to 40 percent. Essential and non-essential shops can be opened, while malls, theatres, cinema halls, restaurants, gyms, salons and wedding venues can operate with 50 percent capacity. Pune, Kalyan, Nashik and Dombivali fall in this category.
- Level 3: Districts with 5 to 10 percent positivity rate and 40 to 60 percent oxygen bed occupancy. Mumbai falls under this category and film shoots will be allowed in the city. However, the suburban train network can only be used by essential workers.
- Level 4: Districts with 10-20 percent positivity rate and 60-75 percent occupancy rate.
- Level 5: Districts with a positivity rate of 20 percent and above and occupancy rate above 75 percent fall in this category and will not see any relaxations.
Maharashtra’s plan to fight possible third wave
- Aggressive contact tracing and testing
- With little to no data available on the Delta plus’s symptoms and causes, the state is looking at ‘isolating index cases’.
- Maharashtra has launched a project to research the variant where 3,500 samples have been collected for genome sampling.
- The Centre asked the state to take up immediate containment measures and vaccination in districts and clusters where the Delta plus variant was found.
- Samples of infected persons are to be promptly sent to designated laboratories of INSACOG so that clinical epidemiological correlations can be made.
Mumbai’s plan to fight rise in COVID-19 cases
BMC officials said the fluctuations are not alarming and could be the function of increased testing, according to The Times of India.
- BMC is setting up paediatric wards in its hospitals in preparation for the third wave.
- In jumbo centres, separate enclosures for Covid-negative parents of Covid-positive children will be made.
With inputs from agencies
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