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Maharashtra extends lockdown till 15th June; a fresh set of guidelines will be issued on 1st June

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Deserted look of Reclamation in Mumbai’s Bandra area during the nationwide Janata Curfew. | Image: Afternoon Voice / Akshay Redij

The lockdown-like limitations in force in Maharashtra have been extended till June 15, announced public health minister Rajesh Tope. He said a fresh set of guidelines, however, will be issued on June 1st. The government had earlier extended the lockdown-like restrictions in the state till June 1 to contain the further spread of coronavirus.

Health minister Rajesh Tope told Afternoon Voice, “There is a need of this extension in lockdown to control the pandemic, moreover it is also said that the children are going to be vulnerable. 15 days’ extension has been given, but the guidelines related to it will be issued on June 1.” 

He further stated “No relaxation will be given in the areas where the number of patients and positivity rate are high and hospital bed availability is an issue. All those areas, buildings are in containment zones or sealed will have to follow strict guidelines.”

However, experts from the medical fraternity recommended that the state shouldn’t allow any super-spreader events such as political, social or religious gatherings for a couple of months. Mumbai recorded 929 fresh Covid cases and 30 deaths in the last 24 hours. A total of 1,239 people recovered in the maximum city on Friday. At present, the city’s recovery rate stands at 94%.

Tope said the CM would assess the situation of each district and a fresh set of guidelines would be issued. While districts, where cases continue to surge, will see no relaxation, Tope said, “Those where occurrence has weakened and other parameters such as positivity rate and bed occupancy are looking better will be awarded some relaxations.”

Decisions on the opening of non-essential shops too would be decided by the CM. whereas BMC has urged some relaxations for sectors that directly affect rain preparedness. Additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said, “We have requested the state to consider opening home repairing agencies, carpenter and umbrella shops, and those related to monsoon readiness,” There are no plans on starting local trains anytime soon though the city’s positivity rate has been under 5% for over 10 days. On Friday, the rate was 3%.

Although there is a demand from all quarters to reduce the restrictions given the decline in cases, medical experts have cautioned against it, said, state officials. Dr Subhash Salunkhe, the technical adviser to the state government, said the state has to go slow up to December in the wake of Covid virus mutations and continued transmission of cases. “If we open in a hurry, there will be an explosion of cases. The number of people susceptible to the infection is still very high and vaccination coverage is low,” he said.

Salunkhe recommends against major opening up till 60%-80% of the vulnerable population has been vaccinated. “The monitoring too has to be daily at the district level. Interventions have to be at the micro-district and taluka levels,” he added.

Members of the state task force have called for a gradual opening up after close monitoring of new cases in the districts. “It’s purely an administrative decision, but the unlocking has to be smart and gradual,” said Dr Rahul Pandit, a member. Dr Avinash Supe, chairman of the Covid death audit committee, said several districts are still seeing transmission in good numbers. “There shouldn’t be any hurry in resuming normalcy, else we may see a spurt again,” he said.

“Largescale relaxations or re-opening of sectors will not be done. Minor relaxations are likely. With vaccinations slowing down due to unavailability of doses, the state is not comfortable unlocking at once,” said a senior state official.

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