Maha minister pushes for firecracker-free Diwali amid pandemic

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Mumbai, Nov 5 (PTI) Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope on Thursday said he favours a firecracker-free Diwali this year to reduce air pollution and prevent rise in coronavirus cases.

In a media statement released here following a review meeting with officials and members of a task-force set up to tackle the pandemic, Tope said he would take up the issue with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Firecracker emissions create a heavy layer of smoke in the air, which can cause breathing problems, he said.

Moreover, as a precautionary measure to counter a second wave of COVID-19, the state government has decided to increase fever surveillance in the state, Tope said.

'Considering the onset of winter, the state government plans to increase fever surveillance across the state for early detection of the COVID-19 infection,' he said.

The government will also increase testing at malls, shopping complexes, grocery shops and public transport, among others, as these locations have been identified as 'super- spreaders', the minister said.

Apart from this, the state government has decided to extend the decision to reserve 80 per cent beds in private hospitals for COVID-19 patients, he added.

On Thursday, Maharashtra's COVID-19 tally crossed the 17 lakh-mark. Over the past few days, the state's daily count of infections has dropped below 10,000. PTI ND ARU RSY RSY