Mumbai | Jagran News Desk: As the state continues to see a spike in COVID-19 cases amid fears over a third wave of the pandemic, the Maharashtra government on Thursday issued fresh curbs, restricting public gatherings at weddings, social, political, religious events and funerals.

As per the latest guidelines, only 50 people would be allowed in marriages or any other social, political or religious event. In funerals or last rites, the limit has been restricted to 20.

"In any other part of the state which are tourist spots that attract a large crowd of people such as beaches, open grounders, etc, the competent authority may as deemed appropriate, impose section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973," the state government order read.

This comes hours after Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray held a key meeting with the COVID-19 Task Force of Maharashtra to review the situation in the state amid a massive surge in coronavirus cases.

Last week, the state government had imposed new curbs to avoid crowding. In its guidelines, it said that public events will be allowed up to 50 per cent capacity in closed halls or auditoria, and up to 25 per cent of capacity in open spaces, and no bursting of fire-crackers to welcome the New Year.

"All care must be taken to ensure social distancing is maintained and crowding is avoided at public places of New Year celebrations like Gateway of India, Marine Drive, Girgaum and Juhu beaches and all other beaches, gardens, grounds, etc, besides use of face masks and sanitisers," said an official notification.

Maharashtra reports first Omicron death

Amid a huge surge in COVID-19 cases, Maharashtra on Thursday reported its first death of an Omicron patient. According to a report by news agency IANS, a 52-year-old chronic diabetic man, who had recently arrived from Nigeria, passed away following a heart attack at the YB Chavan Hospital in Pimpri Chinchwad (Pune) on Tuesday and his reports on Thursday confirmed he was afflicted by Omicron.

Maharashtra Minister Balasaheb Thorat tests positive for COVID-19

On Thursday, Maharashtra Minister Balasaheb Thorat also tested positive for COVID-19. The Congress leader took to Twitter to inform of being infected by the virus.

"I have tested positive for COVID-19. I am asymptomatic and taking treatment on the advice of a doctor. I appeal to all those you have come in my contact to get themselves tested. I urge everyone to wear a mask and follow all COVID-19 protocols," Thorat tweeted.

Meanwhile, 198 Omicron cases were reported in Maharashtra on Thursday that pushed the tally of such infections in the state to 450. Maharashtra reported 5,368 fresh COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a jump of 1,468 over Wednesday's numbers. The active cases in the state now stand at 18,217, as per the Maharashtra Health Department.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma