Maharashtra imposes stricter, uniform COVID-19 restrictions amid threat of new Delta Plus variant
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government has decided to bring back some Covid-related restrictions in the state after Delta Plus variant cases have been reported.
The Maharashtra government on Friday decided to bring back some Covid-19 restrictions in the state after Delta Plus variant cases have been reported in the state.
The Maharashtra government order read: “Given that the virus causing Covid-19 is undergoing mutations in various geographies and that these mutations are displaying more transmissibility and potential reductions in monoclonal antibody response, a state-level trigger mandating all the administrative units -- irrespective of values of the indices of weekly positivity rate and oxygen bed occupancy percentage -- to remain at a level not below three is to be in operation till withdrawn by specific order of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).”
Amid reports of Delta and Delta Plus variants of coronavirus and a potentially imminent third wave, the Maharashtra government has said that while easing of restrictions can’t be risked, total RT-PCR tests and, not Rapid antigen tests, will be a decisive factor. The government further said the focus will be on the vaccination of the highest number of people possible.
Tightening the Covid-19 curbs, the state government has that instead of a five-level unlock, which the government announced earlier, there will be three-level restrictions in all districts now.
The state government also said that all administrative units will be under level 3 and above (4 or 5) until further orders, as per the new guidelines issued as part of a government notification, which also calls for pushing for 70% vaccination of eligible population in the state.
According to the latest order, all administrative units, including Pune and Thane, will be placed under a minimum of level 3 restrictions, which implies that the previous permissions to open malls and other public places will be withheld. Further, shops and other public spaces will now have to close down till 4 pm.
· Essential shops and establishments can remain open till 4 pm on all days in areas falling under level 3 of the five-step unlock plan.
· Non-essential shops and establishments can remain open till 4 pm on weekdays, it said.
· Restaurants will be allowed dine-in facility with 50% capacity till 4 pm on weekdays and takeaways and home deliveries after that, the notification said.
· Use of suburban trains will be only for medical staff and personnel engaged in essential services, it said.
· Gyms and salons will remain open till 4 pm at 50% capacity, the government order said.
The government order also said that flying squads will enforce Covid-19-appropriate behaviour among people and impose fines for violations.
The Delta variant of the Covid-19 has emerged as a variant of concern and another mutation of Delta, Delta Plus, has been found in India. The first case of Delta Plus was detected in a sample collected in Maharashtra in April, the government has said. This indicates that though the variant has been reported recently, cases were already there in India in April during the peak of the second wave. Ratnagiri and Jalgaon are the two areas where the Delta Plus samples were found, the Centre said and asked the government to focus on containment.
So far in Maharashtra, the Delta Plus variant has been detected in 21 Covid-19 positive patients, out of whom one 80-year-old woman with co-morbidities succumbed to the disease on June 25, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said.
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