Acting on the paediatric task force’s recommendation to resume classes from KG to 7th standard, the state health minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said physical classes of standard 1 to 4 would start soon. The State cabinet, at its meeting slated for Thursday, is expected to take a decision on the department of school’s proposal.
Tope, however, made a strong case for the vaccination of children aged 12 to 18. He also made a fresh appeal to the Centre to allow a booster dose for health and frontline workers. Recently, he raised the issue with the Union health minister Mansukh Mandiviya and other officials. “They informed me that they are studying the issue. This is the Centre’s mandate, and we are hoping that they will make a decision soon.”
“I had a meeting with the state paediatrics task force headed by Dr Suhas Prabhu on Tuesday. It has recommended that schools for students from class 1-4 can be reopened by adopting social distancing and other guidelines,” Tope said.
When contacted, Dr Prabhu said that the task force had recommended reopening all schools by following strict protocols. “The recommendations have been submitted to the departments of health and education. I had a detailed discussion with Tope on this,” he said.
On vaccination of children below 18, Dr Prabhu said that the same could be undertaken as there is no shortages of vaccine doses.
However, he clarified that vaccination was not a prerequisite for reopening schools; nonetheless, he made a strong pitch for expediting the immunisation of children.
Tope said that even though the pandemic cases are on the decline, the crisis persists. He added that Maharashtra would be hit by a mild third wave in December.
“Over 80 per cent people have been vaccinated in Maharashtra, which has played a major role in curbing the spread of virus. Infection is less, and mortality is near zero. Though the third wave is expected in December, the immunity build up due to vaccination would ensure that infection is mild and requirement of ICU and oxygen will be less,” said Tope.
The minister appealed to citizens to follow Covid-19 protocols. He also referred to the Delta variant in Germany, Austria and USA. “While studies show vaccine effectiveness against the Delta variant, it is crucial to ensure Covid appropriate behaviour. Covid restrictions are in place, and they should be followed,” he said.