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‘DELTA PLUS’ VARIANT MAY SPARK MAHARASHTRA 3RD WAVE: HEALTH DEPARTMENT

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With a state-appointed task force Wednesday expressing apprehension that a third wave of the pandemic could hit Maharashtra in a month or two if Covid-appropriate behaviour was not followed, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray directed senior doctors and officers to ensure medicines and health equipment were available across urban and rural areas.

At a meeting to review the preparations for the possible third wave of the pandemic, the CM was informed that a highly virulent “Delta plus” variant of the coronavirus could stoke a third wave in Maharashtra.

The state health department officers also said while the number of patients during the second wave was much higher than the first due to the ‘Delta variant’ of the virus, the third wave may even see a higher volume of patients. The state recorded around 19 lakh patients in the first wave of the pandemic and nearly 40 lakh in the second. Health officials said the third wave could even see eight lakh active patients, of whom 10 per cent could be children.

The meeting was held here to take stock of preparations to tackle a possible third wave of COVID-19 even as Maharashtra, the state worst-hit by the pandemic, emerges out of a devastating second wave of the infection.

The presentation made by the health department at the meet portrayed possible scenarios in case a fresh wave of the infection hits Maharashtra.

Dr Rahul Pandit, a member of the task force said, “How to keep wave 3 limited is in our hands. We must avoid crowded places and ensure double masking. If we give away basic cognizance, the third wave will be bigger.”

Thackeray stressed the need for increasing vaccination coverage. Thackeray said the state had no basic amenities when the first wave of the pandemic hit Maharashtra, but had steadily increased it subsequently. Pointing out that the country will get 42 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine by August-September, he said the state would also benefit from it.

Though vaccination plays an important role in this battle against Covid-19, one must also not forget that social-distancing norms need to be maintained, Thackeray said. RT-PCR tests have to be increased and PPE kits and other material has to be procured too, he added.

With a dip in cases, the Maharashtra government had allowed five-level graded relaxations in the state from June 7, which are revised based on weekly case positivity rate and occupancy of oxygenated beds.