Maharashtra, which is facing lockdown-like restrictions till May 1, will see an extension of the curbs for another fortnight as the state continues to report huge numbers of coronavirus cases, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said.The proposal was made at a cabinet meeting earlier today, but the final decision will be made by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
The official announcement is expected soon. “It (the lockdown) will be extended by 15 days,” Tope said.
The Maharashtra government on Wednesday decided to provide anti-COVID-19 vaccines for free to the people in the age group of 18 to 44 years, Tope said. However, he clarified that the vaccination of ages 18-44 won’t begin from May 1 as announced by the Centre.
“Today, the Cabinet under the leadership of Chief Minister Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray has decided to provide free COVID-19 vaccination to all the citizens of Maharashtra aged between 18-44years. #BreakTheChain,” a tweet from the Chief Minister’s Office said.
“The vaccination of 18-44 won’t happen from May 1. I want to request the young population, please use CoWIN app. You will be able to get vaccinated after registration only. No walk-in inoculation will be allowed.”
“Micro planning is in process. The centres for 18-44 will be different. They will be dedicated for the particular age group,” he said. This decision was taken at the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai. The move will put a burden of Rs 6,500 crore on the state’s coffers, he said.
Tope further said, “This month, only 10 lakh doses of Covaxin have been administered. Next month, 10 lakh more will be given. Thereafter, 20 lakh vaccines will be administered each month.”
“The supply of Covishield vaccines will be over a crore. We are thinking of buying Russian vaccine Sputnik, as Covaxin supply is limited. After August, vaccine providers likely to be increased,” he said.
After the meeting, Chief Minister Thackeray clarified that the state health department is planning for the vaccination program and the citizens will be informed about it in advance.
“We have been fighting the battle of COVID for the last one and a half years. Vaccination has been started in the state since January in collaboration with the Center. To date, more than 1.5 crore people under the age of 45 have been vaccinated. This is a record in the country,” he said.
Last week the state – the worst hit by the pandemic – announced a series of measures to combat the spike in cases. These measures, which included limiting attendance at non-essential private and government offices, and use of public transport – were to stay till 7 am on May 1.
Restrictions were also imposed on weddings and social events, and shops selling groceries, dairy products and vegetables were allowed to open for only four hours – 7 am to 11 am per day.
Vaccination centres in private hospitals will be increased from 73 to 100 and they shall cater for vaccination to all citizens in the age category of 18 and above.
Maharashtra has so far inoculated over 1.53 crore beneficiaries including over 3.88 lakh people on Tuesday.
Maharashtra on Tuesday reported 66,358 fresh coronavirus positive cases and 895 fatalities, taking the tally of infections to 44,10,085 and the toll to 66,179, the state health department said. Mumbai recorded 3,999 new cases and 59 deaths, raising the overall tally to 6,35,483 and the toll to 12,920.