Maharashtra: 22 Cases of Delta Plus Variant Found in 7 Districts

CM Thackeray took stock of the preparations being made to manage the third, impending wave of the coronavirus.

3 min read

After short-lived relief that came with the dip in COVID-19 cases post the second wave of the pandemic in India, Maharashtra is again witnessing a rise in the number of coronavirus cases.

The state registered 8,470 cases on Tuesday, 22 June, as against 6,270 on Monday. On Wednesday, Maharashtra reported as many as 10,066 fresh cases.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has indicated that 22 patients infected with the Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus have been found in the state – the highest in the country.

Of these, the highest number of cases have been identified in Ratnagiri, seven from Jalgaon, two from Mumbai, and one each from Palgarh, Sindhudurg, and Thane.

Moreover, the first case of death in the state due to this viral variant – that of an 80-year-old man who had comorbidities – was also reported this week.


Preparations Underway

With the COVID-19 curve in the state showing an upward trend again, the government of Maharashtra on Friday decided to revise their previously instated five-level unlock strategy.

As per the new directive, levels 1 and 2 from the previous plan will be scrapped and Level 3 will now be the stage of maximum relaxation. The first two levels had almost no restrictive measures.

The weekly positivity rate of each district will be considered for the decision on the level of restrictions to be applied.

While the COVID restrictions have been relaxed in most of the districts, seven districts with the highest positivity rate remain a matter of concern.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Thursday held a meeting with the collectors of the seven most-affected districts of Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, and Hingoli.

The chief minister took stock of the preparations being made to manage the third, impending wave of the coronavirus. CM Thackeray also said that while relaxations in COVID curbs have been introduced, there is still need for caution.

“There is a possibility of rise in infections due to the third wave and new Delta Plus variant, as per the experts. The health department should plan for additional oxygen beds, ICU beds and field hospitals in all districts. Adequate oxygen supply should also be ensured. A plan should be made to provide land and buildings for setting up facilities like field hospitals.”
Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra CM

According to the state's weekly report, the average weekly positivity rate of the state is 4.54 percent. However, in the most affected districts, a positivity rate of 5-10 percent is being recorded. The following are the districts with the highest positivity rates:

  • Kolhapur (10.88 percent)
  • Raigarh (9.35 percent)
  • Ratnagiri (7.97 percent)
  • Sangli (7.66 percent)
  • Satara (7.52 percent)
  • Sindhudurg (7.45 percent)
  • Pune (7.38 percent)

What the Experts Have Said

Dr Sanjay Oak and Dr Shashank Joshi of Maharashtra Task Force believe that the characteristics of the Delta Plus variant are changing. The experts have said that though Maharashtra is at the forefront of the vaccination process in the country, it is necessary to dispel the apprehension about the vaccine among people from rural regions.

The task force has also advised the government to tighten the COVID-19 restrictions further while there is time.

Dr Pradeep Vyas, Additional Chief Secretary, Health Department, reviewed the situation in the seven districts of concern. He said that while the growth rate has come down to 0.15 percent in the rest of the state, it has doubled or tripled in the affected districts.

In view of these circumstances, the Maharashtra government has entrusted the district magistrates with the right to decide on containment zones, sealing the borders of the districts, and other restrictions.

If there is no improvement in the situation in the coming days, the government has said that it is considering the imposition of a strict lockdown once again, ahead of the third wave of the coronavirus.

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