Maharashtra COVID task force member suggests curbs for short time if Omicron threat persists


MUMBAI: A member of the Maharashtra government’s COVID-19 task force on Monday said curbs for a short duration of time would have to be considered if cases of the new coronavirus variant Omicron continue to rise in the state.

Dr Vasant Nagvekar, who is also a consultant for infectious diseases at a city-based hospital, said a rapid rise in the cases of Omicron, classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the WHO, will definitely pose challenges.

“If Omicron cases rise (further), its going to be challenging due to its faster spread. We will have to deal with the prevailing situation and take decisions appropriately.”

“If cases rise, may be temporarily we may have to consider closure for a small period of time till the storm settles,” he said.

On Monday, Maharashtra recorded 26 new cases of Omicron – 11 of them in Mumbai – taking the overall tally of the variant to 167.

The state has been reporting a steep rise in daily coronavirus cases in the last few days.

The tally of active cases has also crossed the 10,000-mark in Maharashtra.

on Monday reported 26 new cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, taking the state tally of those infected with the new strain to 167, the health department said.

As many as 11 of the new cases of Omicron, marked as a ‘variant of concern’ by the WHO, were detected in Mumbai.

“Twenty-six new cases of the Omicron variant have been reported from Maharashtra today,” the health department said in a bulletin.

Giving the break-up of 26, the bulletin said Mumbai reported 11 cases, Raigad (Panvel Municipal Corporation) – five, Thane Municipal Corporation – four, Nanded – two.

Nagpur, Palghar, Bhiwandi-Nizampur Municipal Corporation (in Thane district) and Pune rural reported one case each.

With this, a total of 167 patients infected with Omicron have been detected in the state so far, it added.

Out of the 167 cases, as many as 72 patients have been discharged following negative RT-PCR test, it said.

Of the 26 fresh Omicron cases, all have a history of international travel barring two who are their high-risk contacts, the bulletin said.

Among the new cases – 14 males and 12 females – four are below the age of 18 and two are above 60 years, it said.

The bulletin added, “Barring four minors and three others, all 19 remaining have received full vaccination. Twenty-one are asymptomatic, while five have mild symptoms.”

The state reported 1,426 fresh coronavirus cases, including 26 new Omicron patients – daily count down 222 from a day ago – while 21 more persons succumbed to the infection in the the state, the health department said.

The health department said the state recorded 21 fresh fatalities in the last 24 hours, taking the COVID-19 toll to 1,41,454.

The case fatality rate is the state stands at 2.12 per cent.

With 1,426 new cases, the statewide tally of those infected with COVID-19 reached 66,59,314, it said in a bulletin.

The count of active cases crossed the 10,000-mark to stand at 10,441, reflecting a widening gap between new and recovering patients.

On Sunday, Maharashtra had recorded 1,648 COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths.

The state had also reported 31 new cases of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, a day ago.

The state has so far recorded 167 Omicron cases.

On Monday, 776 patients were discharged from hospitals, taking the tally of those recovered so far to 65,03,733, the department said.

The coronavirus recovery rate in the state stands at 97.66 per cent.

The bulletin said 93,819 coronavirus tests were carried out in the last 24 hours, pushing their cumulative number to 6,85,49,133.

Currently 91,464 people are in home quarantine and another 880 in institutional quarantine, it added.

Mumbai reported 809 new coronavirus cases and three deaths, taking the tally in the metropolis to 7,71,921 and the toll to 16,373, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said in a statement.

The Mumbai division, which comprises the city and its satellite townships, saw 1,072 cases and seven deaths.

The Pune division reported 174 cases, Nagpur 125, Kolhapur 17, Aurangabad six, Latur 12 and the Akola division four cases, among others, the bulletin said.

The Pune division reported 13 fatalities, Mumbai (seven) and Latur (one).

Coronavirus figures of Maharashtra are as follows: Positive cases 66,59,314; fresh cases 1,426; death toll 1,41,454; recoveries 65,03,733, active cases 10,441, total tests 6,85,49,133.

Meanwhile, twenty-eight more students and three staff members of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district have tested positive for COVID-19, taking the number of such cases at the institute to 82 in the last one week, a health department official said.

According to the official, a majority of the infected students are “asymptomatic” and currently admitted to hospital, where their health condition is stable.

“We had sent repeat swab samples of some students, who had earlier tested negative, for analysis as they showed some symptoms (of coronavirus).

Last night, the samples of 19 students returned positive and today 12 more samples tested positive (three of them of staff members and bringing total new cases to 31),” said Dr Prakash Lalge, health officer of Parner tehsil in the adjoining district.

Of the total 82 patients, 6 are staff members of the school.

Ahmednagar district collector Rajendra Bhosale on Sunday evening said the school campus has been declared a ‘containment zone’ after detection of cases among students and staff members.

“As a precautionary measure, we have deployed a medical team comprising a doctor and two nurses to monitor other students in the campus,” he had said.

The administration had said the samples of all the students who tested positive were sent for genome sequencing to ascertain if any of them had been infected by the new variant of coronavirus Omicron.

The school, part of the Navodaya Vidyalaya network that comes under the Union education ministry, is located at Takali Dhokeshwar village.

The Maharashtra cabinet on Monday expressed concern over the rising COVID-19 cases in the state and stressed on the need to expedite the pace of vaccination and effective steps to curb the spread of coronavirus, whose new variant Omicron is causing fresh worries.

The number of active cases has increased by nearly 50 per cent in the last 20 days, the cabinet was told at its meeting here.

As on December 26, the state had 9,813 active cases of the infectious disease.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, who virtually joined the meeting held in Vidhan Bhavan in south Mumbai, asked for a meeting of state COVID-19 task force in a day or two to review the prevailing coronavirus situation.

A statement from the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) said Thackeray suggested strict vigilance and effective steps to curb the spread of the virus.

The statement said the cabinet expressed concern over the rise in COVID-19 cases in the last few days.

Health secretary Pradeep Vyas made a presentation before the cabinet in which he said a further rise in the number of active cases is expected in January, according to the statement.

The need of the hour is to expedite the pace of vaccination, the senior bureaucrat said, adding a few days ago, eight lakh vaccine doses were being administered to people in a day in the state, but that number has now come down to 5 lakh shots.

The health secretary said on December 8, there were 6,200 active cases of coronavirus in Maharashtra and currently, their count has shot up to around 10,000.

“In the last 20 days, the number of active cases has risen by nearly 50 per cent. Also, in the last six days, the number of daily cases has seen a three-fold rise,” he said.