Mumbai: To avoid a post Ganpati festival-like spike in the number of Covid-19 positive cases, the Mumbai civic body went on an overdrive of penalising people without masks during the Navratri festival.
According to officials from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), the civic body has penalised about 1.25 lakh people caught without wearing masks and collected close to Rs 3 crore in penalties over the last 15 days.
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said, “At least 80 per cent of these penalties collected were in the last 10 days during Navratri. There was an aggressive attempt from our side so that people don’t relax when it comes to following precautionary protocol. We want to be cautious because Diwali is also approaching close on the heels of Navratri.”
The civic body charges a fine of Rs 200 on those not wearing a mask in a public place. It decided to strictly enforce wearing masks on 12 October when Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said he will personally monitor the exercise and set a target of catching at least 20,000 people not wearing masks every day.
Preventive action to keep post Ganpati-like spike at bay
After being a Covid hotbed in the first few months of the pandemic hitting India, Mumbai seemed to have been able to contain the spread of the virus by July with the daily rise in Covid positive patients limited to 1,000 to 1,200 cases, and a sharp dip in the number of active patients.
There was, however, a sudden surge a few days after the Ganpati festival that concluded on 1 September.
The city witnessed more than 2,000 cases a day by mid-September — a marked increase from 1,000-1,200 cases that were recorded every day in July and August.
Despite comparatively muted celebrations this year and the state government’s regulations, Mumbai’s caseload jumped nearly 55 per cent to 2,27,251 by 10 October from 1,46,947 on 1 September.
The doubling rate, which is the number of days it takes for infections to double, had also reduced to 68 days on 10 October from 84 days on 31 August. A lower doubling rate indicates that the infection is spreading faster.
Over the past week though, the daily rise in the number of Covid positive cases has dipped, with cases hovering around the 1,000 to 1,500 mark and the daily growth in Covid positive cases being 0.53 per cent in the week between 19 October and 25 October. The doubling rate of Covid positive cases has also widened to 132 days as of Monday.
Mumbai has so far recorded 2,52,087 Covid positive cases with 19,035 of them being active.
Walk-in testing centres
Other than enforcing the importance of wearing masks, the BMC is also planning to increase testing in the days after Navratri and in the run up to Diwali.
The civic body has planned walk-in testing centres at every ward level for people to get easy and free-of-charge access to Covid tests.
“We plan to have 5-7 such testing centres that will operate for a few hours each day at every ward level. Some of them have already started functioning,” Kakani said.
In past month, the BMC has been conducting 8,000 to 15,000 tests on a daily basis.