Fifteen districts in Maharashtra – the worst-affected state with around 6.6 lakh active cases – are showing a decline in coronavirus caseloads, Health Minister Rajesh Tope said Tuesday evening.
The districts reporting a drop in cases are Mumbai, Aurangabad, Thane, Nashik, Raigad, Nagpur, Latur, Amravati, Nanded, Dhule, Bhandara, Nandurbar, Osmanabad, Chandrapur and Gondia.
Mr Tope also said around 18.5 lakh vaccine doses – 13.58 lakh of Covishield and 4.89 lakh of Covaxin – had been ordered, as the state steps up vaccination of people in the 18-44 age group.
Around nine lakh more doses have been received for people over 45, he added. Till Monday there were only 25,000 doses left for this group, forcing the vaccination drive to stop in some places.
The Health Minister also spoke about the availability of Russia’s Covid vaccine – Sputnik V, which was cleared for emergency use in India in early April. The first batch – 1.5 lakh doses – arrived in Hyderabad on Saturday, and local production will begin “soon”, the Russian envoy said.
Mr Tope said the Russian vaccine would be available once pricing was confirmed; last month it was suggested one dose could cost around $10, or around Rs 750.
He also discussed plans to increase (and sustain) supply of oxygen – a critical issue in the second Covid wave – and the supply of medicines used to treat COVID-19, such as Remdesivir.
Mr Tope said a global tender floated last week for the procurement of 10 lakh vials of Remdesivir, 40,000 oxygen concentrators, and 25,000 metric tonnes of oxygen, among other life-saving medical resources, was getting a good response.
At the district level, he added, 150 oxygen generation plants would be established. The aim, Mr Tope said, is to ensure that every district is self-reliant when it comes to oxygen supply.
Nine of 10 PSA (pressure swing adsorption) oxygen plants had been completed, he added.
Maharashtra has reported a steady (and welcome) drop in daily Covid cases over the past few days – from a record high of around 67,500 cases on April 22 to fewer than 49,000 on Monday.
It was the first time in 30 days that the state reported fewer than 50,000 new cases in 24 hours.
Also on Monday, state capital Mumbai – once the worst-affected city in the country – reported fewer than 2,700 new Covid cases in 24 hours – the least in one day for over five weeks.
However, this was on the back of a sharp drop in daily Covid tests.
Nevertheless, the downward trend in districts like Pune, Nagpur and Thane – among those reporting the most daily new cases in the second wave – will also come as a relief for the state government.
This morning India reported over 3.5 lakh new Covid cases in 24 hours to take the active caseload to nearly 33.5 lakh. The country has now recorded over two crore COVID-19 cases.