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Coronavirus: 15 Maharashtra districts showing decline in COVID-19 cases, says Rajesh Tope

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Mumbai, May 04: Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Tuesday said 15 districts, including Mumbai and Thane, are showing a decline in daily COVID-19 cases, but other districts are still exhibiting an upward trend in the state.

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He said the government is targeting to reduce the number of coronavirus infections in the districts with high caseload. Tope said the state government was in talks with the manufacturer of Russian vaccine Sputnik V to arrive at a purchase price for the jab. He said the global expression of interest, floated by the state government for vaccine purchase, has received a good response from companies.

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"COVID-19 cases are still on the rise in around 20 districts, including Sangli, Satara, Buldhana and Kolhapur, and our target is to reduce them," Tope told reporters. He said COVID-19 cases are declining daily in 15 districts - Mumbai, Dhule, Nanded, Bhandara, Thane, Nashik, Latur, Nandurbar, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Amravati, Raigad, Osmabanad, Chandrapur and Gondia.

The district administrations in areas where cases are rising have been asked to increase bed capacity in hospitals, the minister said. He said the state, reeling under a second wave of the infection, has recorded a 5 per cent drop in test positivity rate, from 27 per cent to 22 per cent.

The minister said there has been been no reduction in number of coronavirus testing. "The number of daily tests ranges between 2.5 lakh and 2.8 lakh of which RT-PCR (lab technique) accounts for 65 per cent and RAT (rapid antigen test) 35 per cent," he said.

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The state, the worst-hit by the infection in the country, will be getting 3.5 lakh vials of Remdesivir, a key COVID-19 drug, and 20,000 oxygen concentrators, Of the Remdesivir stock to be received by Maharashtra, 40,000 injections have been delivered and already utilised, Tope said.

He said nine lakh vaccine doses have been received for the 45-plus age group. Tope said, "45 per cent of the beneficiaries aged 45 and above have been vaccinated so far." In each district, people under the 18-44 age group (for whom inoculation opened on May 1) are being vaccinated at five centres and so far nearly a lakh beneficiaries in the youngest category have received their doses, he said.

When asked about water resources minister Jayant Patil announcing a "lockdown" in Sangli, he said in districts which are showing a rise in COVID-19 cases, their guardian ministers are taking decisions regarding stricter curbs. Tope said the state government has had no communication with Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII), on vaccine procurement after his interview to a British media house.

The Pune-based SII is the manufacturer of Covishield, the main vaccine being used in the nationwide inoculation drive. "When he returns (from London), we will have a meeting with him," he said.

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