As the number of infections among children in the “third wave” of the pandemic is very low, the Maharashtra government will take a call on reopening schools in the next 15 days.
Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Sunday despite the State witnessing a high number of infections, nearly 86-87% of the fresh COVID-19 cases were in home quarantine and were exhibiting only mild symptoms like those seen in common cold.
“There are different opinions on the reopening of schools. We have discussed the matter in the Cabinet. Parents are divided with some advocating caution and refusing to send children while others insisting on sending them to school. Given that infections among children and hospitalisations, in general, have thus far been low, we will keep schools closed for the next fortnight in the wake of rising cases but take a decision within the fortnight,” Mr. Tope told reporters in Jalna.
Maharashtra has been witnessing a massive spike in daily infections since the rise in the Omicron variant, with an active case tally of 2.65 lakh currently. This has led the government to impose curbs including the shutting down of schools and colleges which had only recently begun.
The move has come under criticism from parents and activists, particularly from those in the rural hinterland, who have complained about the ill-effects on children from the social margins.
Mr. Tope, who congratulated the personnel of the Health Department on the occasion of the first anniversary of India’s vaccination drive, said 90% of the State’s population had been given the first dose and 62% the second, while 42% teenagers in the 15-18 age group had been inoculated thus far.
He said as per his department’s calculations, the State required an additional 50 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine and 40 lakh doses of Covaxin to maintain the pace of the vaccination drive.
“We have never said the Centre is not providing us with vaccines…but the State is carrying out 8 lakh vaccinations daily. So, in order that there be adequate stocks present on a monthly basis, we have demanded this number of doses from the Central government,” he said.