THANE: Amid the Omicron scare, Kalyan Dombivali Municipal Corporation chief Vijay Suryavanshi on Monday said 109 out of 295 recent foreign returnees to the township in Thane district were untraceable currently.
He said the mobile phones of some of these people were switched off while many of the last given addresses were found to be locked.
Suryavanshi said returnees to KDMC limits from all 'at risk' nations have to undergo 7-day home quarantine, and a COVID-19 test will be conducted on the eighth day.
"Even if it is negative, they will have to undergo another 7-day home quarantine and it would be the duty of housing society members to ensure the norm is not violated.
Marriages, gatherings etc are being watched to curb violations," he said.
"Some 72 per cent of the people in KDMC have taken the first dose of the vaccine and 52 per cent are fully vaccinated," he added.
One Omicron case was detected in a Dombivali resident recently.
The Maharashtra government is closely monitoring the prevailing coronavirus situation and any decision on reimposing restrictions in the state will be taken only after seeking the Centre's guidance and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's views, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Monday amid rising concern over detection of cases linked to the new variant Omicron.
Speaking to reporters here, Tope said imposing restrictions on the activities allowed in the state at present will be "too inconvenient" for the people.
"It will be too inconvenient for the people if restrictions are imposed on the activities currently allowed. Hence, we will keep a tab on the situation and take a call (on curbs) following the guidance of the Centre and the (state COVID-19) task force and based on the views of the chief minister," he said.
Tope said schools which have not reopened yet should start in-person classes and pitched for observing COVID-19-appropriate behaviour in daily life.
The minister said the state government is focusing on vaccinating people while facing the situation caused by Omicron, a new coronavirus variant which is causing worries all over the world.
"Rallies, marriages and political meetings are being held on a big scale. If COVID-19-appropriate behaviour is not observed there properly, then it leads to the possibility of spread of the infection."
"And Omicron can spread fast and hence, I think it is the need of the hour to implement the rules strictly," he added.
Tope said in view of the rising cases of Omicron, two more laboratories for genome sequencing will be set up at Aurangabad and Nagpur in addition to the three existing facilities.
The three laboratories in the state are currently burdened with the task of testing swab samples to detect the new variant, he said.
"We have asked the Union Health Ministry to sanction two more labs - at Aurangabad and Nagpur - to ease the burden of testing samples of Omicron," the minister said.
Genomic sequencing is a process to decode genes in SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, to help scientists find which variant might be present in swab samples.
So far, eight cases of the Omicron variant have been detected in the state (till December 5) and 27 swab samples have been sent for genomic testing, he said.
Tope informed that the health department is conducting screening of travelers at airports and tracing and testing all those who have returned from overseas in the recent days.
He said the Maharashtra government has again told the Centre to start vaccination of children against COVID-19 and administer booster doses to elderly people.
Asked whether the Maharashtra government would make vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for eligible people, Tope said, "We believe in counselling and persuading people to get vaccinated. It can not be made mandatory." The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified Omicron, detected in South Africa and some other countries recently, as a 'Variant of Concern'.
Health experts have expressed possibilities that owing to the genetic modification in the virus, it may possess some specific characteristics.
The state reported five COVID-19 fatalities, the lowest in a single day, after May last year, a health official said on Monday.
In the last 24 hours, 517 new coronavirus positive cases were reported, taking the tally in Maharashtra to 66,39,296.
The COVID-19 death toll now stands at 1,41,175, a health department bulletin said.
On Sunday, Maharashtra had reported 707 cases and seven fatalities.
"The fatality for the day is the lowest since May last year," the health official said.
A total of 811 patients were discharged in the last 24 hours, taking the number of recoveries in Maharashtra to 64,87,593, leaving the state with 6,853 active cases, it said.
The recovery rate in Maharashtra now stands at 97.72 per cent.
The case fatality rate is 2.12 per cent, the bulletin said.
A total of 77,928 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, which raised the number of samples tested so far in Maharashtra to 6,61,56,544, it said.
Mumbai reported 163 new cases and two deaths.
Nineteen districts and nine civic bodies in Maharashtra did not report any fresh COVID-19 cases.
Mumbai division, which comprises the city and its satellite townships, reported 298 cases and three deaths.
Pune division reported 101 new cases, Nashik division 60 cases, Aurangabad (25), Nagpur (12), Kolhapur (nine), Latur division (seven), and Akola division six cases.
Maharashtra's coronavirus figures are as follows: Fresh cases 518, positive cases 66,39,296, fatalities 5, death toll 1,41,175, recoveries 64,87,593, active cases 6,853, total tests 6,61,56,544.