Mumbai: The state disaster management department has made a strong case for allowing people fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to commute in Mumbai local trains. However, the public health department has yet to fall in line, citing the threat of infection amid the Delta Plus variant and a possible third wave.
The Task Force headed by Dr Sanjay Oak, at the Wednesday meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, suggested that people with two vaccine shots be permitted to travel in suburban trains.
State public health minister Rajesh Tope agreed and said it’s needed “to keep the wheels of the economy moving in Mumbai”. He, however, said it would be “a bit difficult to verify whether commuters have actually received both the doses”. The minister said a plan regarding the same can be worked out with the help of railway authorities.
In view of lack of consensus among various departments, the government has not been able to issue orders on relaxing the Covid restrictions. The state is expected to issue the order on Friday to be effective from August 1.
Meanwhile, the Task Force has strongly suggested that the government should increase the timings for shops up to 8 pm in cities with low positivity rate.
Tope said in 11 out of 36 districts the positivity rate is higher than the state’s average and the infection spread is greater. These include Beed, Ahmednagar and districts from Konkan and western Maharashtra. The public health department has, in fact, recommended imposition of Level 4 or 5 restrictions in districts with high positivity.
Asked about factors which were a deterrent for the state government from introducing more relaxations, Tope said the UK, Australia and some countries of the European Union have reported the onset of the third wave of Covid-19.
“Many countries have introduced lockdowns again to contain the infection. The same challenges are before us,” he said, urging people, especially from rural areas, to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
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