Mumbai: Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Tuesday said 15 districts, including Mumbai and Thane, are showing a decline in daily COVID-19 cases, but other districts are still exhibiting an upward trend in the state. He said the government is targeting to reduce the number of coronavirus infections in the districts with high caseload.
Tope said the state government was in talks with the manufacturer of Russian vaccine Sputnik V to arrive at a purchase price for the jab. He said the global expression of interest, floated by the state government for vaccine purchase, has received a good response from companies.
“COVID-19 cases are still on the rise in around 20 districts, including Sangli, Satara, Buldhana and Kolhapur, and our target is to reduce them,” Tope told reporters here. He said COVID-19 cases are declining daily in 15 districts – Mumbai, Dhule, Nanded, Bhandara, Thane, Nashik, Latur, Nandurbar, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Amravati, Raigad, Osmabanad, Chandrapur and Gondia. The district administrations in areas where cases are rising have been asked to increase bed capacity in hospitals, the minister said.
On the other hand, strict curbs will be imposed in Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur districts of western Maharashtra amid the rise in COVID-19 cases, an official said. State Water Resources Minister Jayant Patil on Tuesday announced a strict eight-day lockdown in Sangli district from the midnight of May 5 in view of the rising number of COVID 19 cases. Patil, who is also the guardian minister of the district, said the region had recorded 1,568 COVID-19 cases and 40 casualties on Monday. There was no option, but to impose a complete lockdown to save lives, he said.
“After discussions with the district administration, it has been decided to go for a complete lockdown for eight days from midnight of May 5. There is shortage of oxygen and medicines in the district, and it is necessary to break the chain,” Patil said, adding that only essential services will be exempted. Meanwhile, the administration in Satara district on Tuesday announced stricter restrictions for a week to contain the spread of coronavirus in the region.
As per the fresh curbs, shops selling essential commodities such as milk, groceries, vegetables and fruits will remain closed and only home delivery of these items will be permitted. Under the earlier guidelines, shops selling essentials were allowed to operate from 7 am to 11 am in the district.
“In view of the rise in COVID-19 cases, a decision has been taken to make the lockdown stricter in the district. As per the new restrictions, shops selling essential commodities such as milk, groceries, vegetables and fruits will remain shut, and only home delivery of these items will be permitted till 11 pm,” said Ramchandra Shinde, officiating collector, Satara district. The restrictions will remain in place in Satara till May 10, it was stated.
Shop owners selling essential commodities will have to obtain passes for delivery boys from the administration, the official said. Medical shops will remain open from 8 am to 8 pm, while chemists attached to hospitals will operate round the clock, he said. “Shops selling agriculture-related products will be allowed to remain open till 11 am,” the official added.
Similarly, the administration in Kolhapur has imposed certain curbs for 10 days starting from 11 am on May 5 till May 13, an official said. The authorities have urged citizens not to step out of their homes unnecessarily and opt for home deliveries of essential commodities, he said.
Satara has been reporting 2,500 COVID-19 cases per day over the last few days and the positivity rate in the district stands at 35 per cent, while Kolhapur is seeing a daily tally of 800 to 1,000 cases.
However, health minister Tope said that the state, reeling under a second wave of the infection, has recorded a 5 per cent drop in test positivity rate, from 27 per cent to 22 per cent. The minister said there has been been no reduction in number of coronavirus testing.
“The number of daily tests ranges between 2.5 lakh and 2.8 lakh of which RT-PCR (lab technique) accounts for 65 per cent and RAT (rapid antigen test) 35 per cent,” he said. The state, the worst-hit by the infection in the country, will be getting 3.5 lakh vials of Remdesivir, a key COVID-19 drug, and 20,000 oxygen concentrators, Of the Remdesivir stock to be received by Maharashtra, 40,000 injections have been delivered and already utilised, Tope said.
He said nine lakh vaccine doses have been received for the 45-plus age group. Tope said, “45 per cent of the beneficiaries aged 45 and above have been vaccinated so far.” In each district, people under the 18-44 age group (for whom inoculation opened on May 1) are being vaccinated at five centres and so far nearly a lakh beneficiaries in the youngest category have received their doses, he said.
When asked about water resources minister Jayant Patil announcing a “lockdown” in Sangli, he said in districts which are showing a rise in COVID-19 cases, their guardian ministers are taking decisions regarding stricter curbs. Tope said the state government has had no communication with Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII), on vaccine procurement after his interview to a British media house.
The Pune-based SII is the manufacturer of Covishield, the main vaccine being used in the nationwide inoculation drive. “When he returns (from London), we will have a meeting with him,” he said.