After lifting all COVID-19-related restrictions less than a month ago, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday appealed to people to use face masks when outdoors and take necessary precautions to restrict a possible fourth wave of the pandemic at the doorstep and prevent it from entering the state.
The CM’s appeal came in the backdrop of an uptick in coronavirus cases in the state, especially in Mumbai where more than 100 new cases were reported for the second straight day on Wednesday.
Thackeray’s call came after he held a review meeting with divisional commissioners, municipal commissioners, Zilla Parishad CEOs and top police officials in view of the rise in coronavirus cases.
Some parts of the country are also reporting a gradual increase in infections with the national capital registering more than 1,000 cases daily in the last few days. Delhi reported 1,367 fresh COVID-19 cases, according to data shared by the health department on Wednesday. It was the sixth consecutive day that the capital recorded over 1,000 new cases in a day.
The Maharashtra CM emphasized on reverting to COVID-19-appropriate behaviour, including use of face masks in crowded places, social distancing and completion of vaccination on time.
“The threat of COVID-19 was not yet over. We need to arrest the spread of infection while it is at the doorstep,” he said, claiming there are “40 crore people in China’s various cities who are witnessing a lockdown”.
“We have battled the previous three waves of the novel coronavirus and its variants, but we have lost many people to the infection. State authorities need to sensitize people again about the COVID-19 protocols to minimize the impact and spread of the infection,” Thackeray said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
While the chief minister insisted on increasing inoculation, a presentation made at the review revealed that 1,77,90,194 people have still not taken the second dose of anti-COVID-19 vaccines.
At least 88.91 per cent of the eligible population in Maharashtra has taken the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, while 70.68 per cent of the eligible people has received both the doses, official data showed.
The presentation also revealed that out of the 36 districts, nine have reported positivity rate, or cases detected per 100 tests, that is higher than the state’s weekly positivity rate.
Earlier in the day, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said wearing of face masks at crowded places in Maharashtra could be made mandatory again in view of the rise in cases.
Maharashtra on Wednesday recorded 186 new coronavirus infections, including 112 in Mumbai, but zero pandemic-related deaths, the state health department said.
The day before, the state had recorded 153 cases, including 102 in Mumbai, and four fatalities.
The state’s COVID-19 caseload stood at 78,77,264, while the death toll was 1,47,838.
In the first week of April, the state government lifted all coronavirus-related restrictions and made wearing of face masks optional.