A volunteer assists people to fill personal information form before getting inoculated with a dose of the Covishield, AstraZeneca-Oxfords Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine, at a vaccination centre in Mumbai on April 1, 2021.
A volunteer assists people to fill personal information form before getting inoculated with a dose of the Covishield, AstraZeneca-Oxfords Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine, at a vaccination centre in Mumbai on April 1, 2021.
(Photo by Punit PARANJPE / AFP)

Maharashtra added 6,51,513 COVID-19 cases in March this year, which accounts for 88.23 per cent of the total number of cases reported in the previous five-month period, according to official data.

Between October 1 last year and February 28, 2021, the state recorded 7,38,377 cases of coronavirus.

The data shows the increased pace of viral infection in March 2021 compared to previous months.

One of the main reasons for it is the people not following "COVID-appropriate behaviour", say experts.

Many people are not maintaining social distance and do not wear masks, exposing themselves to the infection, they say.

"There have been several discussions among state officials and ministers about increasing the fine amount for people not wearing masks. It could put some pressure, but the government does not want to use an iron fist to ensure people adhere to the guidelines," a member of the state COVID-19 task force told PTI.

However, another senior state health official said people cannot be pressurised after a certain limit.

"The labour class (low income group) in the state is desperate to go out to work. Same is the situation with micro, small and medium industries. They are labour-dominated sectors and we cannot stop people from travelling," she said.

Another government health official said hygiene is a "delicate and lifestyle-related issue" and its definition varies from person to person.

People get irritated if you insist on washing hands every time they go out of their workplace or office, he said.

"It is the case of either an utmost level of hygiene or nothing. One incident of delaying washing hands or not covering face sufficiently can lead to the coronavirus infection, the official said.

But, living under such constant fear also leads to other psychological complications, another official said.

"We have observed people following COVID-appropriate behaviour for one week to three weeks and later becoming careless. That is the time when they catch the infection," she said.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan in a letter to Maharashtra's chief secretary recently pointed out similar reasons.

He had also expressed the need for surveillance of COVID-19 patients who do not follow home quarantine protocols.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope recently said people should be ready for stringent measures in the coming days to curb the spread of COVID-19 and that imposing a lockdown is the last option for the state government.

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