Amid the spread of the Covid Delta-plus variant and the possibility of the third wave hitting the state, the Maharashtra government had put off its decision to open schools on August 17.
As reported by the Free Press Journal, the paediatric task force had observed, “While we need to see that a child's education and mental health does not suffer, we have to take precautions to prevent hasty school openings from worsening the third wave. It is conscious of the effects and problems created by the prolonged closure of schools with the third wave likely in the next month or so. However, it would not be wise to open schools right away.”
Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope, on Thursday, indicated that the state government would be taking a call on reopening schools and colleges in the next four to five days.
"We have made it clear that the respective departments will have to take the decision. I have discussed the matter with School Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad and Higher and Technical Education Minister Uday Samant. Both believe that the opinion of the Covid-19 task force and paediatric task force is important. Their reports are expected in the next four to five days,” said Tope.
Tope’s statement came days after the Maharashtra government issued a GR, dated August 10, on the guidelines from the school education department on the reopening of schools for students of Class 5 to Class 7 in rural areas and Class 8 to Class 12 in urban areas from August 17.
The paediatric task force, headed by Dr Suhas Prabhu, had suggested that the department’s proposal should be delayed for a month or even more. The task force on Covid-19, chaired by Dr Suhas Oak, had recommended that the government may consider reopening schools after Diwali.
Maharashtra reported 4,575 new coronavirus cases and 145 deaths on Saturday while 5,914 patients recovered from the viral infection, a health department official said.
The state's COVID-19 caseload thus rose to 64,20,510, while the death toll increased to 1,35,817, he said.
Nandurbar district in north Maharashtra did not record a single active COVID-19 case for the sixth day in a row.
As many as 5,914 patients were discharged from hospitals during the day, taking the recovery count to 62,27,219.
There are 53,967 active cases in the state at present.
Maharashtra's COVID-19 recovery rate stands at 96.99 per cent, while the fatality rate is 2.11 per cent.
As many as 2,02,452 coronavirus tests were conducted across the state in the last 24 hours, pushing the overall test count to 5,21,24,250.
Solapur district reported the highest 638 new infections, followed by Satara at 591 infections. Satara district also recorded the highest 51 deaths since Friday evening.
Of the eight administrative regions of Maharashtra, Pune region reported the highest 2,177 new COVID-19 cases, almost half of the total cases recorded in the state during the day.
Kolhapur region reported 766 new cases, Nashik region 716 cases, Mumbai 654, Latur 206, Aurangabad 20, Akola 27 and the Nagpur region reported nine cases.
Of 145 deaths reported during the day, the highest 76 fatalities were from the Pune region, followed by 26 in Kolhapur and 15 in the Mumbai region. Nashik and Latur regions reported 13 and 10 deaths.
Akola and Aurangabad regions reported three and two deaths, while no death was reported in the Nagpur division.
Mumbai city witnessed 262 new cases and five deaths, while Pune city reported 538 infections and ten fatalities.
Of 53,967 patients under treatment, Pune district accounts for the highest 12,502.
Coronavirus figures of Maharashtra are as follows: Total cases 64,20,510, New cases 4,575, Death toll 1,35,817, Total recoveries 62,27,219, Active cases 53,967, Total tests conducted so far 5,21,24,250.
(With inputs from PTI)
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