MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: With Maharashtra’s Covid-19 positive cases continuing to grow exponentially, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday directed the state’s health task force to prepare a detailed lockdown plan that would have minimum impact on the economy.
Minister Nawab Malik confirmed plans for a limited lockdown without major impact on economic activities.
“Industries where large number of people gather, which could increase the virus spread, may have to follow stringent guidelines while manufacturing units will function without any impact,” Malik added.
The meeting convened by the CM was attended among others by the health minister, health secretary and members of the health task force.
Health Minister Rajesh Tope and other officials, principal secretary to state health department Dr Pradeep Vyas said there will be a "tremendous stress" on the availability of beds, oxygen supply, and ventilators, which could fall short if the cases continue to go up.
During the meeting, the CM reviewed health infrastructure including availability of beds, oxygen, medicines etc. in the state to treat COVID-19 patients.
The task force then recommended that the state government implement measures like a stricter lockdown to stem the rise in coronavirus positive cases.
Apparently, current measures like restricted mobility in public areas and places of work as also night curfews, have not slowed down the pace of infections.
The health secretary informed the CM that there is shortage of beds and ventilators in some parts of the state.
Last year on September 17, there were three lakh active patients and 31,351 deaths.
But now, as of Saturday, there are 3.30 lakh active patients and the cumulative toll is 54,073.
“The task force said the toll could climb, especially due to delay in hospitalisation without timely testing and non-compliance of the home isolation protocol. On March 27, as many as 35,726 patients with infections were detected and this number might touch 40,000 in the next 24 hours,” the health department said.
Amid the spike, officials in Pune and Chennai plan to assess whether people with a history of infection are getting reinfected.
In the first such exercise in India, they have decided to look for igG antibodies in newly infected people.
The antibody igG typically appears nearly 14 days after exposure to the virus and lasts for several months.
"There should not be any kind of confusion among the people once a lockdown is announced," the CM is quoted as saying.
Maharashtra has seen a huge rise in coronavirus positive cases over the last week.
As many as one lakh new infections were added to the state's tally in such short period.
"24,619 cases had been reported on a single day in September, 2020. However, on March 27 this year, the state reported 35,726 new cases in a day. This number could touch 40,000 in the next 24 hours," the release said quoting the members of the task force.
Dr Vyas made a presentation on the current status of beds, ventilators, availability of oxygen during the meeting.
"There are 3.57 lakh isolation beds in the state of which 1.07 lakh are already filled.
The remaining beds are getting filled at a higher speed," Dr Vyas said, adding that out of the 60,349 oxygen beds, 12,701 beds are already occupied by COVID-19 patients.
"Out of the 19,930 beds, 8,342 beds are already occupied with mild symptomatic patients. 1,881 of the 9,030 ventilators also remain occupied," he said.
Dr Vyas said some districts in the state do not have vacant beds at all, which is an indication of the health system falling short (to tackle the rising cases).
The health department has blamed the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases to the delayed response by citizens.
"People are not testing in time. They are not following COVID-appropriate behaviour. At the same time, private establishments are not following the 50 per cent attendance norms. There seems a casual approach towards home isolation. These all factors could be some of the reasons behind the spike in the cases," the department said.
The CM then directed officials to ensure sufficient supply of foodgrains, medicines and all types of medical services to address the challenge of the pandemic.
"The industry should produce 80 per cent of oxygen for medical reasons and remaining for other purposes," he said.
Tope said the cases are rising at a rate of 10 per cent every day in the state.
"We fear of falling short of beds in some areas," he said.
Tope said the government has asked for E-ICUs as well as for short isolation and treatment centres across cities.
It will meet the requirement up to some extent, he added.
"If cold chain facilities are increased in rural areas, we can vaccinate more people and prevent further spread of the virus.
There is a sizable number of youngsters in the new cases.We fear some of them might lose their lives," Tope said.
Struggling to arrest the upsurge in coronavirus positive cases, the CM on Friday directed officials to impose section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure under which gathering of five or more persons will be banned in night in the state, beginning March 28.
On Saturday, the state government announced a ban on holding of all types of gatherings, including political and religious.
It also ordered that restaurants, gardens and malls will remain shut between 8 pm to 7 am beginning Saturday night.
People will also not be allowed to visit beaches during 8 pm to 7 am.
At 166, the state reported the highest number of fatalities due to COVID-19 in this year so far.
Eight states and UTs have a weekly positivity rate of coronavirus infection higher than the national average of 5.04 per cent, with Maharashtra recording the highest rate at 22.78 per cent, the Union Health ministry said on Sunday.
Apart from Maharashtra, the other seven states and UTs with higher positivity rate than national average are Chandigarh (11.85 per cent positivity rate), Punjab (8.45 per cent), Goa (7.03 per cent), Puducherry (6.85 per cent), Chhattisgarh (6.79 per cent), Madhya Pradesh (6.65 per cent) and Haryana (5.41 per cent).
On the testing front, 15 states/UTs have lower tests per million than the national average (1,74,602).
These states include Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra, the Health ministry said.
The total tests for COVID-19 conducted across India have exceeded 24 crore while the cumulative Positivity Rate continues to remain below 5 per cent, the ministry said in a statement.
The country's total vaccination coverage has surpassed 6 crore on Sunday.
The 6,02,69,782 vaccine doses have been administered through 9,85,018 sessions, as per the provisional report till 7 am today.
"These include 81,52,808 healthcare workers (1st dose), 51,75,597HCWs (2nd dose), 88,90,046 frontline workers (1st dose) and 36,52,749 FLWs (2nd Dose), 66,73,662beneficiaries aged more than 45 years with specific co-morbidities (1st Dose) and 2,77,24,920beneficiaries aged more than 60 years," the ministry said.
Seven states of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Punjab, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have reported high number of COVID daily new cases.
These states account for 81.46 per cent of the daily new cases registered in the last 24 hours.
About 62,714 daily new cases were reported in a single day.
Eight states cumulatively account for 84.74 per cent of the new cases reported in the past 24 hours.
Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 35,726.
It is followed by Chhattisgarh with 3,162 while Karnataka reported 2,886 new cases.
Fourteen states/UTs have not reported any COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours.
These are Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Lakshadweep, Ladakh (UT), Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.
(With PTI Inputs)