How is Maharashtra handling the second wave of the pandemic?

Second Wave of the Pandemic

The Maha Vikas Agadhi government isn’t keen on imposing a lockdown since people are still recovering from economic loss of the first one.

In an effort to tackle the second wave of the pandemic, the Maharashtra government has slashed the prices of COVID-19 RT-PCR tests to Rs 500 from Rs 1000. According to an announcement by the Health Minister of Maharashtra, Rajesh Tope, the cost for rapid antigen tests is also reduced to Rs 150.

The state is witnessing a massive surge in cases since the mid of February after a significant drop in cases since September. In 2020 September, Maharashtra had recorded 24,886 cases in a single day. It was after this peak, the state saw a downhill in number of cases. Given the rate at which the state is recording numbers now, the 20,000 cases a day spike is approaching soon.

The Uddhav Thackeray led government is now considering a new set of restrictions since the state cannot afford another lockdown. However, they haven’t ruled out the possibility of a lockdown if the situation doesn’t come under control.

The sudden surge in Maharashtra

According to experts, this spike in cases in inexplicable since the State was witnessing a decline in cases for 5 months. There is also a lot of ambiguity as to why the two states of Maharashtra and Punjab are so heavily affected by the second wave of the pandemic.

Since restrictions on travel and movement of people was eased during the unlock process, the states that share a border with Maharashtra and Punjab are also expected to see a rise in cases.

The fuelling of the second wave in India can be attributed to various factors such as behavioural relaxation on part of people and mixed messaging by the government. According to a doctor in India, the rise in cases could be due to behavioural fatigue expressed by people after being cooped up in their homes for a year. A lot of gatherings and family functions were organised after a relaxation in norms.

However, the only advantage for Maharashtra is that the health infrastructure isn’t worn out as of now.

The new restrictions

Maharashtra’s Health Minister, Rajesh Tope, made clear that there won’t be a lockdown but there will be strict rules. They might not be shutting down regular shops but places that allow a large gathering would be possibly shut down such as malls, cinema halls and restaurants. Home delivery of food and other items would continue function though.

The lifeline of Mumbai, local train services, which were restarted after a long break will continue to ply as usual. The municipal corporation also took a decision a while back to randomly test people at crowded places in Mumbai. If a citizen would refuse to test, they would be charged under the Epidemic Act of 1897.

As for weddings and funerals, the government has said they will be vigilant of such activities in terms of protocols of masks and social distancing. The government has also introduced a fine of Rs 200 if a person fails to wear a mask.

Author: Radhika Udas