Maharashtra 'Lockdown' Extended by 15 Days, Says Minister; Vaccines For 18+ May be Delayed

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Maharashtra, which is facing lockdown-like restrictions till May 1, will see an extension of the curbs for another fortnight as the state continues to report huge numbers of coronavirus cases, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said. The official announcement is expected soon. “It (the lockdown) will be extended by 15 days,” Tope said.

The Maharashtra government on Wednesday decided to provide anti-COVID-19 vaccines for free to the people in the age group of 18 to 44 years, Tope said. However, he clarified that the vaccination of ages 18-44 won’t begin from May 1 as announced by the Centre.

“The vaccination of 18-44 won’t happen from May 1. I want to request the young population, please use CoWIN app. You will be able to get vaccinated after registration only. No walk-in inoculation will be allowed.”

“Micro planning is in process. The centres for 18-44 will be different. They will be dedicated for the particular age group,” he said. This decision was taken at the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai. The move will put a burden of Rs 6,500 crore on the state’s coffers, he said.

Tope further said, “This month, only 10 lakh doses of Covaxin have been administered. Next month, 10 lakh more will be given. Thereafter, 20 lakh vaccines will be administered each month.”

“The supply of Covishield vaccines will be over a crore. We are thinking of buying Russian vaccine Sputnik, as Covaxin supply is limited. After August, vaccine providers likely to be increased,” he said.

Addressing the concerns over vaccines, he said, “We are in talks with several companies. If we want, we can start the vaccination on May 1, but we will have to stop immediately. We want a steady supply. We are talking with companies, with Central government. We are fully prepared for giving vaccines.”

As the fourth phase of the vaccination drive in Mumbai begins, 63 existing MCGM/government vaccination centres will be available for the age category of 45 years plus, 227 new MCGM centres will be opened, which will be accessible for all citizens in 18 years plus age category, according to a statement by Municipal Commissioner IS Chahal.

Vaccination centres in private hospitals will be increased from 73 to 100 and they shall cater for vaccination to all citizens in the age category of 18 and above.

Maharashtra has so far inoculated over 1.53 crore beneficiaries including over 3.88 lakh people on Tuesday.

Maharashtra on Tuesday reported 66,358 fresh coronavirus positive cases and 895 fatalities, taking the tally of infections to 44,10,085 and the toll to 66,179, the state health department said. Mumbai recorded 3,999 new cases and 59 deaths, raising the overall tally to 6,35,483 and the toll to 12,920.

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