The COVID-19 havoc in Maharashtra continued for the third consecutive day on Saturday, 3 April, with Mumbai reporting a record high in infections in 24 hours. The state recorded its highest tally of 49,447 new infections on Saturday, up from the previous high of 47,827 new cases registered on Friday.
Several smaller cities in Maharashtra have also witnessed a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the last few weeks, and the surge has led to discussions on imposing a possible lockdown.
The Quint spoke with Dr Subhash Salunkhe, the technical advisor on COVID-19 to the Government of Maharashtra, to find out more about the second wave of the pandemic. Here are some excerpts from the discussion.
Where are we headed with the second wave?
“For the next 14-15 days, there will be an upward trend when it comes to COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra. The number of patients we are seeing daily are only the ‘tip of iceberg'. About 80 percent of the infected people are hidden in society. Infection is spreading from these people.
“There are 25 times more patients present than what is seen today. This upward trend could go on for three to four months from today. The only way to prevent this is by following COVID protocols.”
What were the shortcomings?
“The Centre has made bigger mistakes than the state government. At the same time, society is also making mistakes. Starting local trains, buses, and markets are proving to be the biggest mistakes.
“As soon as the cases decreased, people began to be careless. It’s not only Maharashtra, the same situation may happen in Delhi or Uttar Pradesh too.”
How important is vaccination?
“COVID-19 cannot be cured just by taking the vaccine, it will only reduce the transmission of the virus. The vaccine cannot bring 100% immunity.
“To vaccinate 30 crore people, it is necessary for us to stockpile 60 crore vaccine doses. For this, it is important to promote imports along with local producers. I believe that imports should also be emphasised to meet the demand of the country and exports should be reduced.”
Will Maharashtra go into a lockdown again?
“The chief minister will be able to answer that in the next two to three days. In the review meeting, I have informed that the majority of people want to follow the rules. Only 20 percent of people are being irresponsible and strict action has to be taken against them.”