Wearing a mask not compulsory, but advised: Maharashtra health minister
As some cities in Maharashtra see surge in Covid cases, state health minister Rajesh Tope said masks should be worn in closed spaces like buses, schools, railways and offices.
“Masks must be worn in closed spaces like buses, schools, railways and offices. It is not mandatory so no fines are imposed. But I call on the public in Maharashtra to wear masks,” Tope said.
“There has been some increase in positive cases in limited clustered areas like Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Palghar districts leading to an increase in active cases in India. Thus, we call on the public to wear masks in surge areas,” Tope said.
Maharashtra’s health department on Friday urged district and city authorities to step up coronavirus testing as the number of samples being tested had dwindled as cases rose.
In a letter to collectors, municipal corporations and chief executives, Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Pradeep Vyas said all districts should ensure that the proportion of RT-PCR tests is at least 60%.
Given the rise in cases, he said people should be asked to wear masks in enclosed public spaces like trains, buses, cinemas, auditoriums, offices, hospitals, colleges and schools.
“The state government has also instructed all district collectors and city commissioners to expedite testing and vaccination. Authorities should check to see if people are wearing masks at designated places,” Tope said.
Maharashtra recorded 1,134 new coronavirus infections on Friday, the highest daily increase in cases since February 24 and three deaths. The number of active cases increased by 12% to 5,127.
“Testing in the state has declined significantly despite repeated instructions. According to data as of June 1, there was a gross shortfall in the number of weekly tests performed in 26 districts, which is a major cause for concern. Testing overall in all districts should be increased immediately,” the letter reads.
The ACS (Health) said the state last week reported the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, and while there were no complications associated with these cases, one should not be complacent.
Vyas also instructed officials to perform periodic analysis of new cases with respect to time, place and person so that a localized plan of action can be developed.