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In a letter to the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has said the state is "in the beginning of a second wave of Covid-19 pandemic".

Amid concern of rising Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, the central government team has asked the state to focus on containment strategies and scale up the pace of vaccination campaign, especially in districts witnessing a sharp increase in infections.

The letter to Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, which is based on the assessment of the central govt team, has urged the state to bring down its positivity rate and step up contact-tracing.

The letter also notes the lack of Covid-19-appropriate behavior and "tracking and testing of cases".

What the letter says

"Maharashtra is in the beginning of a second wave of Covid-19 pandemic. There very limited active effort to track, test, isolate cases and quarantine contacts. There is no adherence to Covid appropriate behaviour among people both in rural and urban areas," the Union Health Secretary warned in the letter.

He also pointed out that eight of the top 10 districts of India in terms of active Covid-19 infections are in Maharashtra and the only way to curb the spread is to increase the pace of vaccination.

"Covid-19 pandemic in the recent past has shown a rising trend in Maharashtra where the number of active cases has increased by 171.5% over the last one month from 36,917 cases on February 11, 2021 to 1,00,240 cases on March 11, 2021," Bhushan wrote to Kunte.

Bhushan flagged high death rates

He also said that the current case fatality was found to be very high among admitted cases in hospitals like -- Government Medical College in Aurangabad and in Vasant Rao Pawar Medical College, Nashik. This needed investigation in detail, including sending samples for Whole Genome Sequencing.

Because of limited contact tracing, a large pool of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic people were not being tracked and tested, said the letter, suggesting that testing be considerably enhanced according to protocol laid down by the Indian Council of Medical Research.

The letter says that the number of people testing positive was high, "ranging from 5.1% in Mumbai to 30% in Aurangabad", implying that there were many cases that were not being tested and "there is high transmission in the community".

Bhushan added, "The Central team inferred that the administrative mechanism should be re-instated to the level witnessed in August -September 2020 to contain/suppress the Covid transmission."

"The central team found that the District Administration is not much worried about the evolving situation. We could sense a feeling that enough has been done already. This complacency may take its toll," Bhushan said.

Maha will get another 12.74 lakh of vaccine doses

Bhushan also said that the state would get another 12.74 lakh of vaccine doses by 18 March.

The worst-affected districts in the state include Pune, Nashik, Nagpur, Thane, Mumbai, Amravati, Jalgaon, and Aurangabad.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra has reported around 15,051 new coronavirus cases pushing the total number of infections to 23,29,464, according to the health bulletin.

The state also reported 48 deaths in a span of 24 hours, taking the death toll to 52,909. At present, the number of active Covid-19 cases in the state stands at 1,30,547.


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