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.
The Maharashtra government on March 16 announces fresh curbs amidst rising COVID-19 cases in the state.
The state government has also put a cap of 50 people in place for weddings, while all other public gatherings – social, cultural, political and religious – have been completely banned.
In addition, not more than 20 people will be allowed at funerals.
According to the new guidelines issued, all restaurants, hotels and cinema halls have been ordered to operate at half the capacity.
Nobody will be allowed inside these establishments without wearing a mask and a temperature check, the state government said in a notification.
However, the 50 percent capacity rule will not apply to offices dealing with health and other essential services. As far as possible, employees should be asked to work from home, the state notification said.
In the case of home isolation, the patient must inform local authorities about the medical professional under whose supervision he or she is.
A board will be put up on the door for 14 days indicating the presence of COVID-19 patient at the location. Patients will be stamped “home quarantine” on the hand.
If patients violate these norms, they will be shifted to Covid care centres.
Management bodies of all religious places have been asked to decide and declare the maximum number of visitors per hour they will allow, depending on the availability of space for movement and gathering with proper distancing.
Violation shall also attract penalties under the Disaster Act for the owner of premises. The property shall also have to remain closed till the period the COVID-19 pandemic stays notified as a disaster by the central government, the guidelines stated.
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.