The current set of curbs in Maharashtra have been extended for another 15 days, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray confirmed on May 30, two days after the decision was finalised at the state Cabinet meeting.
"Lockdown is being extended for 15 days, shall be in place till June 15 now. Depending on the case tally of districts, certain relaxations and restrictions will be enforced," he said.
An order issued by the state government, following his address, noted that the norms would be partially relaxed in districts with positivity rate of 10 percent or less, and less than 40 percent occupancy of oxygen beds.
Thackeray, during his address, stressed that the situation in Maharashtra has "drastically improved" as compared to the past month. The recovery rate, at 93.55 percent, is "much better" than recorded at the time of second wave's onset, he added.
However, the per-day count of infections, which is hovering around the 20,000-mark over the past few days, still remains high, the chief minister pointed out. The cases are increasing in some districts of Maharashtra, he said, adding that there is a "need to restrict" COVID-19 cases from further rising in those districts.
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On a potential third wave of the pandemic, Thackeray said it cannot be predicted at this stage when the third wave of COVID-19 may strike the state.
"Don't know when the third wave of coronavirus may come. We can't let our guard down," he said, adding that the state would need enhanced medical oxygen supply if hit by a more infectious COVID-19 wave.
"We need to ensure that even if there is a third wave, economy should keep moving," the chief minister, however, added.
On the board examinations, Thackeray said the government will take a call on conducting the exams for Class 12th students after further deliberating on the issue.
The chief minister said that the government's priority is to ensure the safety of students, as well as the teachers.
The state would also be ramping up its vaccination drive in the days to come, Thackeray said, adding it is capable of conducting a round-the-clock inoculation programme if provided with adequate amount of doses.
"We will accelerate the pace of vaccination once the supply increases, Thackeray said, adding the immunisation drive for the 18-44 age group would also be accelerated. "We will keep vaccination on for 24 hours once we receive more vaccines," he said.
State Health Minister Rajesh Tope, while speaking to reporters on May 27, had pointed out that the cases were on the rise in 21 districts. Considering the high positivity rate in some of the districts, the lockdown-like curbs have been extended till June 15, Tope had said. However, the restrictions would be gradually relaxes in districts with low caseload, he added.
As per the restrictions that are currently in effect, all non-essential shops and establishments are ordered to remain closed in Maharashtra. The movement of individuals for non-essential purpose is also prohibited.
Shops under essential category, including grocery stores, vegetable stalls, meat and poultry shops are allowed to operate from 7 am to 11 am. Medical stores are allowed to operate as per the regular timings, and restaurants can remain open only for home delivery purpose.
Thackeray's address to the state came on a day when Maharashtra recorded its lowest per-day count of infections in over two months. The state recorded 18,600 cases, lowest since March 17. The corresponding period also witnessed 402 deaths due to the contagious disease.Maharashtra's cumulative count of COVID-19 infections has climbed to over 57 lakh, whereas, the death toll has crossed 96,000. The active caseload in the state stood above 2.75 lakh. The test positivity rate, which had climbed above 25 percent in early April, has dropped to around 8.3 percent.