Maharashtra is "in the beginning of a second wave of Covid", the centre has said in a letter to the Uddhav Thackeray-led government, urging the state to focus on containment strategies. The letter, based on the assessment of a central team, notes the lack of Covid-appropriate behavior and "tracking and testing of cases".
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has written to Maharashtra Chief Secretary after the central team's visit last week.
"Maharashtra is in the beginning of a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. There very limited active effort to track, test, isolate cases and quarantine contacts. There is no adherence to COVID appropriate behaviour among people both in rural and urban areas," Mr Bhushan says in sharp observations.
"The Central team inferred that the administrative mechanism should be re-instated to the level witnessed in August -September 2020 to contain/suppress the COVID transmission."
The letter says the current case fatality was found to be very high among admitted cases in hospitals like -- Government Medical College in Aurangabad and in Vasant Rao Pawar Medical College, Nashik. This needed investigation in detail, including sending samples for Whole Genome Sequencing, Mr Bhushan said.
The central team reported that the number of people testing positive was high, "ranging from 5.1 per cent in Mumbai to 30 per cent in Aurangabad", implying that there were many cases that were not being tested and "there is high transmission in the community".
Because of limited contact tracing, a large pool of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people were not being tracked and tested, said the letter, suggesting that testing be considerably enhanced according to protocol laid down by the Indian Council of Medical Research.
"The central team found that the District Administration is not much worried about the evolving situation. We could sense a feeling that enough has been done already. This complacency may take its toll," Mr Bhushan warned.
Some districts are enforcing or considering night curfews, partial lockdowns and weekend lockdowns (Aurangabad, Nashik and Jalgaon), but these measures "may have only very limited impact on containing/suppressing the transmission", the letter told the state administration.
"Hence the district administration should focus on containment strategy as per the guidelines of the health ministry," said the centre.
Maharashtra reported over 15,000 new Covid cases yesterday, which took its tally to 23,29,464. In the last 24 hours, 48 deaths were recorded.
To check the surge, the Maharashtra government has limited cinemas to half capacity, banned gatherings and capped people allowed in weddings, funerals and offices, advising work from home.