India is staggering under the resurgent wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, with over 3.6 lakh cases reported on Wednesday and more than 3,200 fatalities. A lion’s share of this devastation could be chalked up to the western state of Maharashtra, which has so far racked up 4.34 million cases and over 65,000 deaths. The state has been consistently adding more than 50,000 new cases daily in the last couple of weeks. But for Sonia Gandhi, the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra is doing just fine.
The interim Congress president on Tuesday said that she is satisfied with the way the Maharashtra government has handled the COVID-19 outbreak in the state. Lavishing praises on the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, in which Congress is an alliance partner, Sonia Gandhi said she is pleased with the “professional and transparent handling of the pandemic”. This was revealed by state revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat, who is also the state Congress chief.
“Sonia Gandhi spoke to me at length on state government measures to tackle the situation. She expressed satisfaction over handling the crisis. She instructed that the vaccination drive should be expedited and vaccinations should be completed in a time-bound period,” Thorat said in an interview with the TOI.
While Sonia Gandhi expressed her satisfaction over the way Maharashtra handled the COVID-19 outbreak and reportedly urged Balasaheb Thorat to speed up the vaccination process, it is pertinent to note that Maharashtra is yet to take a decision on the vaccination drive for the population aged 18-45 that is set to begin from May 1.
A cabinet meeting is scheduled to take on Wednesday during which the Maha Vikas Aghadi government will take the decision over starting the vaccination drive for the people in the age group of 18-45.
Even as Sonia Gandhi lauds the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, there have been several instances when the state government has come under criticism for inept handling of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Migrant labours in Maharashtra left in the lurch as lockdown forces them to repatriate back to their villages
For over a month now, Maharashtra has been virtually under lockdown. While Uddhav Thackeray announced strict restrictions and imposition of Section 144 starting April 15, the state was almost under lockdown since April 3 as the coronavirus caseloads started rising at an alarming rate.
The specter of another wave of lockdown triggered a palpable sense of panic among the migrant population that was arguably the worst hit by the pandemic when it started in March last year. There was growing anxiety among the migrant labour in the city as they queued up at various bus stands and railway stations to board buses and trains to get back to their native places before the imposition of an inevitable lockdown. The migrants were left to fend for themselves as the Maha Vikas Aghadi did not announce relief measures for them before announcing the lockdown.
Shortages of beds, oxygen, and key antiviral drugs in Maharashtra
The situation in Maharashtra is particularly dire, with cities across the length and breadth of the state reporting an upsurge in coronavirus cases. Hospitals throughout the states have been swamped with COVID-19 patients as the state government scrambles to get private institutes and other medical centers to admit coronavirus patients.
The surge in coronavirus caseloads in Maharashtra also meant that the state is facing acute shortages in the availability of supplemental oxygen. Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray yesterday pointed out the scarcity of oxygen during his address to the state.
Testing backlog in Maharashtra in the wake of a sharp uptick in the COVID-19 cases
Even testing capabilities are under tremendous strain due to the inexorable rise in a number of coronavirus cases. Many testing centres have been witnessing serpentine queues as people suspicious of being infected are lining up to get themselves tested for Covid-19.
This has naturally created a backlog in testing at several laboratories across the state. The spike in Covid-19 cases precipitated by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic and state guidelines mandating negative RT-PCR tests for those working in public transportation, home delivery services, film shoots, roadside eateries, and other categories have likely played a crucial role in exacerbating the testing backlog in the state.
The routine occurrence of hospital mishaps in Maharashtra
In a distressing event, an ambulance was found ferrying 22 dead bodies of Covid patients stashed one above the other from a hospital to the crematorium in Ambajogai in the Beed district of Maharashtra.
Also, the condition of the state’s health infrastructure is worsening by the day. Thane district of Maharashtra reported yet another case of hospital fire in the wee hours of Wednesday. 3 patients are said to have succumbed after the fire engulfed the hospital.
Several hospitals in Maharashtra have reported fire incidents recently, killing dozens of people. Last week, a fire in a Virar hospital had killed 13 persons, a day after the leakage in an oxygen tanker took 23 lives at a hospital in Nashik.