Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray warned that the government would be forced to impose another lockdown due to rising Covid-19 cases in the state.
“People have become carefree. It is for the people to decide if they want a lockdown or want to continue living with the small restrictions like now,” Thackery said. The Chief Minister held a meeting with state and district administration and directed them to take strict action against people and organizations violating Covid-19 guidelines and standard operating procedures.
Thackery also ordered the districts to make all Covid-19 guidelines firm including a limited gathering at functions, fining those not wearing a face mask, geo-mapping in rural areas to identify regions with high positivity rate and seal buildings having Covid-19 cluster.
With the government and the Shiv Sena party terming the situation as alarming, the latter has urged the public to follow the rules and take the Covid situation seriously. On Tuesday, Maharashtra reported 3,663 new Covid-19 cases and 2,700 recoveries. After 42 days, Maharashtra has overtaken Kerala to record the highest number of cases. The state has imposed a night curfew to reduce the number of cases. With the resumptions of trains in the state and ease in restrictions, the Covid-19 cases have once again started rising.
Meanwhile, Director-General of the Indian Centre for Medical Research (ICMR) Dr Balram Bhargava said on Tuesday that India has reported at least one case of the Brazilian variant of Covid-19 and four cases of the South African variant.
“ICMR-NIV is attempting to isolate and culture the South African variant of SARS-CoV-2, while the Brazilian variant of SAS-CoV-2 has been isolated and cultured at ICMR-NIV-Pune,” Dr Bhargava said.
Dr Bhargava also said that currently, India has 187 patients infected with the UK variant of the Coronavirus. He also said that experiments to check the effectiveness of the Covid vaccines against the new variants are underway and added that the UK variant is different from Brazil and South African variants.
Meanwhile, during a press conference on Tuesday evening, the Union Health Ministry said that Kerala and Maharashtra are contributing a high number of Covid-19 cases. The Health Ministry said it is a cause of worry as Kerala has 61,550 cases and Maharashtra has 27,383 cases in the last week.
The Union Health Ministry also said that as of February 16, India has administered a total of 87,40,595 vaccinations. In a press briefing, the Union Health Ministry has said that 62,82,646 healthcare workers have been vaccinated. Of these, 61,11,968 (60.5%) have received the first dose and 1,70,678 (37.5%) have taken the second dose of those eligible for the vaccination. India has vaccinated 24,57,949 (26.3%) frontline workers.
Kerala is seeing a less number of Covid-19 positive cases since increasing their sample testing. On Tuesday, Kerala reported 4,937 positive cases and 5,439 recoveries. However, with 18 deaths reported yesterday, Kerala has witnessed over 4,000 deaths due to Covid-19. The number of samples tested on Tuesday was 74,352 and the Test Positivity Rate is at 6.64%. These are good signs for Kerala. The state needs to remain vigilant as the Centre announced that new variants of the Coronavirus have entered India.