In a New Year shocker, the Maharashtra government has warned of the possibility of 80 lakh Covid-19 cases and 80,000 deaths as the third wave has apparently set in the state.

"Number of Covid infections in the third wave is going to be very huge," said Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Dr. Pradeep Vyas in a missive to all top government and health officials late on Friday.

"If there are 80 lakh Covid cases in third wave..., even if 1 per cent case fatality is presumed, we can land up with 80,000 deaths," said Dr. Vyas in the grim communication.

He called upon the officials "not to be lulled" by the narratives that the third Covid / Omicron wave is mild and not fatal.

"It is equally fatal for those who are not vaccinated and have comorbidities. So please improve vaccination coverage and save lives," appealed Dr. Vyas.

Cracking the whip, he asked officials "not to be complacent" based on media reports suggesting that the Omicron variant is mild and said "we need to think rationally and scientifically".

Dr. Vyas pointed out that genomic sequencing results show that we still have the Delta variant in more than 70 per cent cases and the figures vary from district to district.

Referring to the US, Europe and South Africa where the hospitalisation rate is lesser compared with the rapid increase in the Covid cases, Dr. Vyas said medical opinion is divided on whether this is owing to the inherent nature of Omicron or due to the vaccination which was not available in the first and second waves.

"There are studies to show that Covid disease even in the present wave has been severe in unvaccinated persons... who are at as much risk (or rather more) as in the second wave (last year)," Dr. Vyas cautioned.

The letter has been sent to all Divisional Commissioners, District Collectors, Municipal Commissioners and CEOs of Zilla Parishads.