Maharashtra reports 67,013 new COVID-19 cases, 568 deaths; new travel cubs kick in



MUMBAI: Maharashtra on Thursday reported 67,013 new coronavirus cases, slightly less than the day before, taking its case tally to 40,94,840.

As many as 568 patients succumbed to the infection, taking the toll to 62,479, said a health department official.

On April 18, Maharashtra had reported its highest daily rise in infections so far with 68,631 new cases, followed by 67,468 on Wednesday.

On April 17 it had reported 67,123 cases.

Of 568 fatalities, 309 occurred in the last 48 hours and 158 last week, while remaining had taken place in the period before the last week, the official said.

In good news, 62,298 patients were discharged from hospitals during the day, raising the number of recovered cases to 33,30,747.

The number of active cases increased to 6,99,858.

State capital Mumbai recorded 7,367 new cases and 75 fatalities, taking its case tally to 6,09,080 and death toll to 12,583.

With 2,81,506 new tests, the number of samples examined for coronavirus in Maharashtra went up to 2,48,95,986, the official said.

Currently 39,71,917 people are in home quarantine, while 29,014 people are in institutional quarantine.

Maharashtra’s COVID-19 recovery rate is 81.34 per cent, while the fatality rate is 1.53 per cent.

The state’s positivity rate is 16.45 per cent, as per the health department.

The Mumbai division, including Mumbai and satellite towns, recorded 17,195 new cases and 127 deaths, taking the count of cases to 12,69,529 and toll to 22,184.

After Mumbai, the Raigad district in the same division reported 29 deaths, the official said.

The Nashik division reported 10,468 new infections including 3,160 in Nashik city, 2,509 in the rest of the district and 2,450 in Ahmednagar district.

Out of 86 COVID-19 deaths in the Nashiik division, 20 were from Nashik, 16 in Ahmednagar district and 14 in Ahmednagar city while 18 in Jalgaon district.

The Pune division saw 13,219 new infections, including 4,657 in Pune city, 2,731 in Pune district and 2,519 in neighbouring Pimpri Chinchwad industrial townships.

Out of 42 deaths in the division, Satara district and Solapur city reported 17 and 14, respectively.

The Kolhapur division added 2,421 cases, while Aurangabad division reported 2,780 new infections and 38 deaths of which 17 were from Parbhani district alone.

The Latur division reported 4,239 cases along with 102 deaths.

Of deaths, 34 were from Nanded district, 13 from Nanded city, 24 from Osmanabad district, 15 from Latur district and 11 from Beed district.

Latur city reported five deaths.

The caseload of Akola division increased by 4,183 with 60 deaths of which Yavatmal district contributed 37.

The Nagpur division registered 12,508 new cases of COVID-19, including 5,440 in Nagpur city and 2,636 in Nagpur district.

The division also reported 90 deaths of which 55 were from Nagpur city and 18 from Nagpur district.

Maharashtra’s coronavirus figures are as follows: Total cases 40,94,840, new cases 67,013, death toll 62,479, recoveries 33,30,747, active cases 6,99,858, people tested so far 2,48,95,986.

Meanwhile, fresh restrictions on travel, attendance in offices and wedding functions announced by the Maharashtra government to check the COVID-19 spread came into force on Thursday night.

Maharashtra, facing an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases, is already under severe restrictions since April 14 and the fresh “lockdown-like” curbs were announced on Wednesday to break the chain of viral transmission in the state.

Prohibitory orders, banning assembly of five or more people at once place, are in force till 7 am on May 1, while non-essential activities are not being allowed.

Essential services, including grocery stores, are permitted to operate only between between 7 and 11 am.

The new restrictions under the government’s `Break- the-Chain’ programme came into force at 8 pm on Thursday and will remain effective till 7 am on May 1.

In the cabinet meeting this week, several ministers demanded a total lockdown for 15 days to curb the rising COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, the state worst hit by the pandemic in the country.

But Chief MinisterUddhav Thackeray decided against imposing a total shutdown, apparently after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation where he said a lockdown should be the “last resort”.

Now, with the new curbs the government has decided to reduce presence of people on the streets and in public transport.

According to an order issued by Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, government offices – central, state and local authorities – will work with 15 per cent attendance except those in emergency services directly connected to management of the pandemic.

Other offices, allowed to operate as per the existing rules, will function with 15 per cent strength or five people, whichever is more, stated the order.

Only government personnel and those in emergency services would be allowed to use suburban trains, metro and mono services in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, it said.

All those engaged in medical services – doctors, nurses, paramedics, lab technicians and clinical staff – will be issued travel passes on basis of identity cards.

However, patients needing medical treatment and specially-abled persons can travel in trains, the order said.

Municipal and state transport buses will operate at 50 per cent capacity with no standing passengers.

Marriage ceremonies have to be conducted as a single event in a single hall not extending beyond two hours with maximum of 25 person in attendance, the order said, adding violation will attract a fine of Rs 50,000.

For inter-city and inter-district travel bylong- distance trains and buses, the local Railways/state transport authorities will ensure screening of passengers, the order said.

Passengers of private buses (who are allowed to travel) will have to quarantine themselves at home for 14 days after they reach their destination.

Bus operators will have to stamp the passengers’ hands to indicate they are supposed to stay at home for 14 days.

On Thursday, police vans made rounds of the main streets in Mumbai asking people on the loudspeaker to stay home and avoid crowding.

Police have put up barricades at the entry and exit gates of suburban railway stations to prevent unauthorised people from travelling in local trains.

Police personnel manned the streets to check motorists and cars for the yellow, green and red stickers which are to be used for specific purpose while moving around during the period of restrictions.

The state government said only government personnel and health workers will be allowed to travel by suburban trains in Mumbai.

The fresh restrictions under the government’s `Break- the-Chain’ programme came into force at 8 pm on Thursday and will remain effective till 7 am on May 1.

No one else even notified as essential services or under exemptions as per earlier government orders will be allowed to use local trains during this period, said a statement issued by the office of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray here.

Government entities include civic bodies of Mumbai, Thane and other corporations, zilla parishads, government authorities, statutory commissions and agencies, the statement said.

Accredited media personnel are prominent among those excluded from the use of suburban trains which are the lifeline of Mumbai and its satellite towns.

Work from home for government staff was not sanction of leave and 85 per cent of such employees must work remotely, the CMO said.

It is expected that government departments will embrace e-office as well as tele-meeting systems, it said.

A separate statement from the chief minister’s office (CMO) said essential services or those excluded from the curbs can display their organisation’s identity card and travel by private vehicles for their work.

the state police on Friday reintroduced the e-pass system for inter-state and inter-district travel in “extreme emergency” situations, a top police official said.

Fresh restrictions on travel, attendance in offices and wedding functions announced by the Maharashtra government came into force on Thursday night.

The state, which has facing an unprecedented surge in coronavirus cases, was already under severe restrictions since April 14 and the fresh “lockdown- like” curbs were announced on Wednesday.

Maharashtra DGP Sanjay Pandey said, “The e-pass system has been reintroduced from Friday and citizens should use it in case of absolute emergency.”

People have to apply on and submit the necessary documents and mention the reason for their extreme emergency travel.

“But those who do not have access to online e-pass system, can visit the nearest police station to procure it. The personnel at the police station will help in filling the form and issue the e-pass,” Pandey said.

This is only meant for the personal use of citizens to facilitate their journey in emergency, he said.

Earlier this month, when other restrictions came into force, top police officials had said that they had not made any provision of e-passes and added that instructions had been given to the staff to allow those in emergency to travel.

“But considering the requests for emergency travel during the ongoing restrictions, the police decided to reintroduce the e-pass system to facilitate people,” another official said.

During the first nationwide lockdown last year, the e-pass system was introduced for all emergency and essential services, in which lakhs of passes were issued by the police.

Recently, the Mumbai police have introduced the system of issuing colour-coded passes for essential services vehicles.

State continues to face oxygen, medicine shortage

The first `Oxygen Express’ carrying liquid medical oxygen departed for Maharashtra from Visakhapatnam on late Thursday night.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal took to Twitter to inform about the Ro-Ro (roll-on-roll-off) train with seven tankers leaving for Maharashtra.

“The first Oxygen Express train loaded with liquid medical oxygen tankers has left for Maharashtra from Vizag.

Railways continues to serve the nation in difficult times by transporting essential commodities and driving innovation to ensure the wellbeing of all citizens,” Goyal tweeted.

With Maharashtra battling shortages of medical oxygen amid COVID-19 surge, on April 19 the train left for Visakhapatnam from Kalamboli near Mumbai.

After nearly 50 hours’ journey, it reached Visakhapatnam about 1 am on April 22.

Nearly 75 hours after its departure from Kalamboli, the train carrying seven tankers loaded with oxygen has started its return journey.

On Sunday, the Railways had announced it will run Oxygen Express over the next few days to transport oxygen across the country.

Under the initiative, empty tankers will be loaded with liquid medical oxygen from Visakhapatnam, Jamshedpur, Rourkela and Bokaro.

Meanwhile, the Nagpur district administration on Thursday received 7,010 vials of the COVID-19 drug and allotted them to hospitals, an official said.

On Wednesday, during a marathon hearing in the Nagpur bench of the HC, the district administration had said they will be receiving 6,572 Remdesivir vials within two days.

However, the official from the collectorate confirmed the administration receiving 7,010 vials of the COVID-19 drug from half-a-dozen pharma companies and their allotment to hospitals in the district, which has been badly affected by the infection.

However, the district collectorate dashboard on Remdesivir allotment stated that 5,899 vials were received by authorities and allocated to private, government, Railway and civic-run hospitals for treatment of COVID-19 patients.

On Thursday, Nagpur district registered 110 COVID-19 deaths and 7,344 new cases of the infection.

On Wednesday, the HC slammed the Maharashtra government for its “extremely callous” behaviour towards the issue of procuring and allocating Remdesivir injections and said the authorities are shirking their responsibilities.

A division bench of Justices S B Shukre and S M Modak was irked that its April 19 order, directing the state government to supply 10,000 Remdesivir vials to Nagpur on that very day, was not complied with completely.

The court was later informed that between April 19 and April 21, as many as 5,245 vials of Remdesivir had been distributed in Nagpur, and around 6,000 more vials will be allotted by Thursday.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray spoke to his Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik on Thursday and thanked him for helping with procurement of oxygen for Maharashtra.

Thackeray took to Twitter to inform about his conversation with Patnaik.

The tweet said he thanked the Odisha chief minister for “helping in procurement and transportation of oxygen from Odisha to Maharashtra and for standing by each other in these crucial times as one nation”.

Thackeray did not elaborate on the procurement of oxygen from the eastern state.

A tweet from Patnaik’s officeearlier in the day said the chief ministerdiscussed the coronavirus situation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Odisha will ramp up oxygen production to assist other states.

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