17 Feb 2021: Why are coronavirus infections rising in Maharashtra again?
The COVID-19 situation in the state of Maharashtra has worsened over the past weeks. The state, which already has the highest number of cases in India, is now reporting one of the highest positivity rates in infections.
The state government has also warned that a lockdown could also be reintroduced if the situation gets worse. Here's all you need to know.
Statistics: How bad is the situation in Maharashtra?
Last week, Maharashtra had reported over 3,000 new cases every day—the first such instance since mid-January.
In the week ending February 14, 20,207 new cases were reported across the state. In comparison, 17,672 new cases were reported in the week ending February 7.
The week before that (January 25-31), the state had witnessed 17,293 new cases.
Regions: Mumbai, Pune, Vidarbha leading spike
Within Maharashtra, Mumbai, Pune, their surrounding areas, and the Vidarbha region are leading the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
Pune, Mumbai, Nagpur, Thane, and Amravati comprised 60% of the new cases in the second week of February (February 8-14).
Among them, Pune had the highest number of fresh infections, adding 3,228 cases in that week. Thane reported 1,960 cases during that week.
Concern: 'Not a red signal, but a yellow warning'
The recent spike in infections is not as bad yet. However, considering the outbreak was witnessing a downward trend in January, it is a cause of concern.
"It is not a red signal yet, but definitely a yellow warning. We have to take steps to ensure that this does not become red," Maharashtra COVID-19 task force member Dr. Shashank Joshi told The Indian Express.
Reason: What are the possible reasons for the spike?
One of the possible reasons why Maharashtra is witnessing a spike in infections could be the reopening of the local trains to the general public.
Notably, Vidarbha and Marathwada had witnessed 80% voter turnouts in recent panchayat elections, state surveillance officer Dr. Pradeep Awate suggested, speaking to TIE.
Wedding functions and other events could also be contributing to the spike, Dr. Awate said.
Caution: Authorities taking steps to control spike
Maharashtra COVID-19 task force member Dr. Rahul Pandit said the cap of 50 people at wedding ceremonies and other events will be strictly enforced now.
Dr. Joshi cautioned that there was a mistaken belief that the epidemic was over. "We cannot let our guard down," he said.
State Health Minister Rajesh Tope said people violating physical distancing and mask-related norms will be heavily penalized.