The Mumbai metropolitan region, Pune and Thane are among six districts of Maharashtra where coronavirus cases are rising rapidly, state health minister Rajesh Tope has said, urging people to wear masks even though the government would not make it compulsory everywhere yet.
BJP leader and former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis has also tested positive for the virus and remains in home isolation. Mr Fadnavis, leader of opposition in the Maharashtra assembly, had earlier contracted the infection in October 2020.
Sharing information after a cabinet meeting on Monday, Mr Tope recalled that some attendees at a recent party hosted by filmmaker Karan Johar had tested positive for the virus too.
Cases up but 'deaths not rising'
The state government is treading with measured caution. The number of infected individuals in Maharashtra rose to 1,494 cases - a three-fold rise in a week - and one Covid death was reported on Sunday. But tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray has underlined that fatality rate is not rising. The state may be witnessing the fourth wave of COVID-19 but people must not panic, he said.
Maharashtra is among five states - others are Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Karnataka - where cases have been rising over the past few weeks.
In his briefing, the state health minister named Palghar and Raigad as among "six districts where testing needs to be increased". The central government too has asked for a push in testing rates.
"We told the chief minister to urge the public (to get tested)," Mr Tope said, adding, "We are also appealing to the people to take precaution dose of the Covid vaccine. Those who have completed nine months of the second dose should take the booster."