Mumbai: On 29 July, Mumbai had marked several milestones in its Covid fight — the number of tests had breached the 5-lakh mark and the daily growth rate of cases fell to below 1 per cent. The doubling rate, which is the number of days it takes for the infections to double, had also widened to over 70 days.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the city’s civic agency, had called the milestones “indicative of the city beginning to get the crisis under control”.
However, a month-and-a-half later, the city has slipped on several parameters.
While Mumbai has conducted over 9 lakh cumulative tests till now, the doubling rate is now below 60 days, over 2,000 positive cases have been recorded every day in the last few says, and the daily growth rate in cases has been over 1 per cent throughout September.
By July end, the daily growth rate was under 1 per cent in 18 of the city’s 24 administrative wards. Only six wards have now registered this growth rate.
Moreover, the number of active cases — which had dipped to below 20,000 in July — is now close to the 30,000-mark.
Mumbai has been a Covid hotspot ever since the pandemic hit the country, and it seemed the cases had plateaued by the end of June. However, in the last fortnight, there has been a sudden surge in cases.
The city’s total caseload jumped by 15 per cent in the first 12 days of September to 1,67,608 cases Saturday. Of these, 29,131 are active cases.
The doubling rate too dropped to 58 days Saturday from 84 days on 31 August.
There is, however, not much change in the death figures, with the numbers marginally down since last month. The daily death count has remained in the range of 31 to 43 in the first 12 days of September, compared to 42-58 during the same time in August. Mumbai recorded 42 deaths Saturday.
85% new cases less severe or asymptomatic, BMC says
BMC officials have been attributing the spike largely to aggressive testing. They also noted that while cases have spiked, new Covid patients are mostly asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.
Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani told ThePrint, “The severity of the infection seems to be reducing, looking at indicators such as the number of asymptomatic cases, the mortality rate, positivity rate and the number of critical cases.”
Kakani added that the rise could also be attributed to the 10-day Ganesh festival that concluded on 2 September, and the gradual unlocking of Mumbai that is bringing more people out of their homes.
“We are now conducting almost 15,000 tests a day as compared with 9,000-10,000 in early September and 7,000-8,000 in August, and 75 per cent of our tests are RT-PCR tests. This has brought up more cases, but 85 per cent of the new cases being detected are asymptomatic, while many others are mildly symptomatic,” he said
The Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test is considered the gold standard for Covid-19 diagnosis.
So far, Mumbai has conducted 9,03,101 tests with 15,827 tests done on Saturday alone.
Kakani noted, “The number of critical cases is static despite there being a spurt in cases. The number of people who have to be admitted to hospitals is also stable.”
As of Saturday, 1,321 patients were critical and 62 per cent of the total 16,063 Covid beds available were occupied.
In comparison, on 1 August, there were 1,094 critical patients and 48 per cent of the 20,906 beds were occupied. Last month, the civic body had also decommissioned a few beds from private nursing homes that it had set aside for Covid treatment.
However, while the BMC claims the number of critical cases has been stable, fewer oxygen beds, ICU beds and ventilator beds are vacant.
Only 47 of the city’s 947 ventilator beds, 81 of the 1,417 ICU beds and 2,900 of 7,852 oxygen beds were vacant till 11 September.
On 1 August, the city had 185 ICU beds, 105 ventilator beds and 4,876 oxygen beds vacant.
Most cases from high-rises and not slums
According to the BMC, 80 per cent of the new cases in Mumbai are from high-rises and other buildings. Slums contribute to only 20 per cent of these cases.
Ashwini Bhide, Additional Municipal Commissioner, Eastern Suburbs, said, “A good indicator of this is the number of people we have in our CCC-2 (Covid Care Centre-2) facilities. These institutional facilities house asymptomatic cases from slums. The occupancy in these centres has drastically reduced.”
As of Saturday, 3,396 of the 23,673 beds in the BMC’s CCC-2 facilities were occupied. In comparison — on 1 August — 4,598 of the 23,560 CCC-2 beds were occupied, according to data collated by the civic agency.
Other indicators such as the city’s Covid mortality rate and the test positivity rate have also dipped.
The city’s mortality rate has dipped to 4.8 per cent from 5.5 per cent about a month ago.
The cumulative positivity rate, which was 21.4 per cent on 1 August, has also now come down to 18.5 per cent.
“We are expecting cases to remain static around 2,000 per day for the next month or so, just like the number had stabilised around 1,200-1,500 in July and August,” Kakani said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray Sunday announced the launch of ‘My family-My responsibility’ from 15 September to fight the pandemic in Mumbai.
Under this campaign, BMC will reach out to every family in the city and provide medical help and guidance if needed. “Let’s practice these guidelines on Individual, Family and Social levels for a COVID-free Mumbai,” the BMC tweeted.
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