As the Covid-19 Delta Plus variant claimed its first victim, an 80-year-old woman from Ratnagiri, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government on Friday clamped Level-3 norms across entire Maharashtra and hinted at “wider and stricter restrictions”.
FDA Minister Dr Rajendra Shingne warned that the potential third wave could see a staggering 50 lakh infections, of which around 8 lakh would be active cases needing hospitalisation.
He apprehended that up to 10 per cent of the infectees (5 lakh) could be children and urged people to exercise all Covid-19 protocols, even as the state crossed the landmark 3 crore vaccination mark, the highest in India.
Under the revised Level-3 norms, all shops would shut by 4 p.m., malls, and cinemas would remain shut and there will be strong curbs on unnecessary movement of people.
“An 80-year-old patient from Ratnagiri has died due to the Delta Plus variant of Covid-19 infections There are around 21 cases of the same in the state currently,” said Health Minister Rajesh Tope.
Of these, Ratnagiri has the highest (9), followed by Jalgaon (7), Mumbai (2) and one each in Thane, Palghar, and Sindhudurg districts and the rest of the state is on a high alert.
The others are stable and some have been discharged, said Tope, adding there was no need for panic.
Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte issued a fresh notification, saying that the new Covid-19 variants like Delta and Delta Plus have come to spread and are fuelling the potentiality of imminent (4-6 weeks), more severe third wave with a wider geographical area.
It said that the “mutations to the virus and its continual evolution mean that unforeseen situations may unfold requiring wider and stricter restrictions though current indices taken into account for imposing administrative level restrictions may indicate so and this state-level triggers other than oxygen beds occupancy needs to be promulgated”.
The state government also asked all the districts to push for ‘Test-Track-Treat’ methodology to arrest the spread, as was done in the first wave last year.
The state called for safer workplaces with proper air ventilation norms because of the “airborne-droplet” nature of coronavirus, all to follow Covid Appropriate Behaviour and in case of violations, there should be heavy fines and penalties.
Besides, the number of RT-PCR tests would be increased in the days to come, give a major push to the vaccination drive in the state, increase and more than double the state’s liquefied medical oxygen (LMO) production from existing 1,300 tonnes to 3,000 tonnes daily, and other measures.
The government has directed all the District Disaster Management Authorities (DDMAs) to ensure that large number of people turn up for vaccinations in the state – which crossed the 60 lakh case tally (60,07,431) on Thursday, besides recording the highest death toll now at 119,859.
“Push vaccination through public awareness activities, attempt must be to achieve vaccination of 70 per cent eligible population at the earliest, encourage workplace vaccinations especially of blue-collar workers,” says the new set of guidelines announced by the state.