Cautioning people against a third wave of Covid infections and asking them not to lower their guard, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday announced that the restrictions imposed in the state to curb the spread of the infection will be extended till June 15.
He said that the state government will take stock of the situation in each district and may tighten or relax the curbs in specific areas.
"I don't know when and what date the third wave will come. So we should not let our guard down," he said. "In the last three-four days, the numbers matched the peak of the last wave. But one good thing is the recovery rate which is now 92 per cent. Even the Case Fatality Rate has reduced," the Chief Minister said. He said that while Covid cases are decreasing in the cities, rural areas of the state are seeing a spike. He thanked the people of the state for their determination in following restrictions imposed to stem the surge in cases.
Mr Thackeray said that if the state is hit by a more severe third wave of Covid infections, it may face a crisis of medical oxygen. "If the third wave comes at a strong intensity, then we will have a problem with oxygen supply because this time we needed 1700 MT everyday," he said.
Advising caution to prevent children from getting infected, he said, "The third wave (of Covid) can infect kids. But one should not worry as experts say they have more immunity. But if they get infected, it will be through us. So we have to take care of that."
The Chief Minister said the state government is deliberating with paediatric experts on how to shield children from the infection. He said that the government will take responsibility for children who lost their parents to the pandemic and will soon release guidelines in this regard.
Referring to the emerging threat of Mucormycosis, commonly known as Black Fungus, he said 3,000 such cases have been reported in the state.
On the vaccination exercise in the state, he said there are six crore people in the 18-44 years age group and there are limitations as far as production and availability of vaccines are concerned. "Once we get vaccines, we will increase our capacity. I have been told that we will get it in June," he said.
Speaking about the cyclonic storm Tauktae that recently hit the western coast, the Chief Minister said, "Tauktae was a very dangerous cyclone. We were lucky it didn't make landfall here. But unfortunately it caused a lot of damage in Gujarat. I went to Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and saw the damage it caused there. We have announced compensation and the payment will start very soon." .
Pointing out that such cyclones are now becoming an annual event, he said there is a need for "some permanent solution" for people living on the coastline. "Like underground electric lines, permanent houses, I am talking to the centre regarding what help we can get," he said.
According to a government order issued today, restrictions have been relaxed June 1 onwards in districts with less than 10 per cent positivity rate and where the occupancy of oxygen beds is less than 40 per cent. Shops selling essential items, which are now open from 7 am to 11 am, will be allowed to operate till 2 pm. For other shops, the order says, a decision will be taken by the local disaster management authorities. If allowed to be open, they would also operate from 7 am to 2 pm. Home delivery of non-essential items via e-commerce has been allowed.
In these districts, government offices, except those involved in work related to the pandemic, will be allowed to operate at 25 per cent capacity.
The order says that in the case of districts where the positivity rate is more than 20 per cent or where occupancy of oxygen beds is over 75 per cent, borders will be sealed and no movement into or from the district will be allowed. People will be allowed to enter or leave the district only in the case of a death in the family or medical grounds or for duty relating to emergency services.
For districts not falling in these two categories, the restrictions currently in place will continue.