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At 832, Maharashtra sees highest deaths in a day

Maharashtra on Sunday reported its highest single-day deaths – 832 – due to Covid-19, taking the toll to 64,760
By Swapnil Rawal, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON APR 26, 2021 12:31 AM IST

Maharashtra on Sunday reported its highest single-day deaths – 832 – due to Covid-19, taking the toll to 64,760. The state continued to report over 60,000 new cases for the sixth day in a row, with 66,191 fresh infections, taking the tally to 4,295,027.

Nagpur’s rural areas reported the highest toll on Sunday, with 69 deaths, followed by Pune district, which comprises Pune city, its rural areas and Pimpri-Chinchwad, with 69 deaths. Solapur district reported 62 deaths. Nanded district reported 59 deaths, while Nashik district saw 57 fatalities. Yavatmal and Aurangabad districts saw 45 deaths. Ahmednagar district saw 44 deaths. Of the 832 deaths reported on Sunday, 360 occurred in the past 48 hours and 244 in the past week. The remaining 228 deaths are from the period before last week, state health department said.

Health experts attribute the rise in deaths to late arrivals at the hospital. However, they maintain that the case fatality rate of the state is in control and the virus is less virulent than the first wave.

Dr Subhash Salunkhe, former director general of health services in the state and advisor to the state on the Covid-19, said with sheer number of infections a large chunk of them, will land up in hospitals. “Roughly 10% of the cases usually are clinical cases. In that, there are late arrivals which make it difficult for doctors to save the person. There could be some stray cases of deaths due to oxygen shortage, but it is not the main factor.”

Dr Shashank Joshi, state Covid task force member, said the sheer load on the healthcare infrastructure could hinder providing treatment to all, which could result in deaths. “The deaths, in absolute numbers have gone up, but compared to last year, our case fatality rate is lower. When you see the healthcare infrastructure clobbered, due to lack of ability to provide health-care deaths, tend to go up. It is less virulent compared to last year,” he said.

Mumbai, meanwhile, continued to see a dip in daily cases, with 5,498 fresh cases on Sunday. Over the past three days, the city saw a decline in cases 7,367 (April 22), 7,199 (April 23), and 5,867 (April 24). It also reported 64 deaths, pushing death toll to 12,790.

While Mumbai has shown a decline in its numbers, the rest of the state is still hovering around the 65000-mark in daily figures. The numbers in the state, excluding Mumbai, have not reduced even after the state government imposed a curfew, restricting movement of people, from April 14.

Twelve days since, the state has added a whopping 775,819 cases, at a daily average of 64,651. In the first 13 days—before the curfew was imposed—the state had added 706,228 Covid-19 across the state.

Dr Joshi said that while Mumbai is declining, but Maharashtra [figures] is “static”. He also pointed out that the testing capacity in Mumbai and the state has “saturated”. “Mumbai is definitely seeing a decline. Mumbai is flattening, but Maharashtra is static, but it is not growing. The testing both for Maharashtra and Mumbai has saturated. We cannot expand the testing beyond this point. Mumbai is testing between 40,000 and 50,000 daily, while Maharashtra tests about 250,000. The cases in the state have been hovering around 65,000,” Dr Joshi said.

Experts believe that poor health infrastructure, inadequate following of Covid protocols, and lack of Covid-19 appropriate behaviour in parts of Maharashtra could be the reasons behind the spike. “Our testing isn’t going up, while its turnaround time has gone to two days, which is an issue. Only when we test up to 300,000 for a few days, we will know the extent of the spread; if the positivity rate continues in proportion to the higher tests, we will take more time. Another factor is that the curfew was not followed as we desired. We will wait another week to assess the situation,” said a senior health department official, requesting anonymity.

Dr Joshi added that protocols are largely being followed by the people and district administration. “The geometric progression of this wave has brought in sheer numbers. People need to self-test, self-isolate, get connected with a health-care provided at the earliest and not delay their treatment. Breaking of the chain will happen.”

He added that Mumbai could come out of the second wave by next month-end, while Maharashtra could take a couple of more weeks. “Mumbai probably will come out of this in about 10 days. Overall, we will see Mumbai come out [of the wave] with a thick tail by May-end. The cases in Maharashtra are expected to linger around longer. It will depend upon how it handles the testing and infrastructure ability. Maharashtra will take two to three more weeks than Mumbai,” he said.

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