‘Public getting negligent because of low fatality rate’
Despite over a four-fold rise in active Covid-19 patients in Mumbai, the case fatality rate (CFR) has remained under 1%. Though it is a silver lining for Mumbaites, doctors believe it is leading to casual behaviour among the public who are violating Covid safety rules.
Suryakanth Mishra, 62-year-old, who fought the virus for 12 days in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in SevenHills Hospital, Marol, succumbed to the infection on March 17. He was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) in 2017, but successfully recovered by the end of 2018. However, the infection had left his lungs damaged and scarred, which became an easy target for Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
“Considering he was a TB survivor, he didn’t delay his diagnosis. As soon as he started showing symptoms, we did his Covid-19 test. But even before we could get the report, his oxygen saturation dropped below 85%,” said Pradeep Mishra, his son.
Although the CFR has remained within 1%, due to the four-fold rise in Covid-19 cases, cumulative death rate increased by 91% in March compared to the previous month. In February, a total 111 Covid-19 deaths were recorded in the city, which increased to 212 in March.
But doctors believe that because of the low fatality rate, the public have become careless and not following Covid precautionary measures like maintaining social distance, wearing masks and sanitising hands regularly.
For instance, on Thursday, the city reported 8,646 new Covid-19 cases. But only 18 deaths were reported in the same 24 hours. On March 31, as many as 5,394 Covid-19 cases were recorded in the city with only 15 deaths.
“The CFR in the second wave is still under control. But people shouldn’t take this for granted. People are irresponsible in their Covid-appropriate behaviour. If infection rate increases further, hospitals would run out of beds. Delay in treatment can contribute to rise in deaths,” said Dr Avinash Supe, in-charge of Covid-death committee.
On March 1, the city had only 9,690 active cases which has now increased to over 51,000. As almost 10-15% of the newly infected patients require hospitalisation, over 80% of the Intensive Care Units (ICU) beds are occupied. The public health experts believe that soon, the city may face shortage of beds if cases keep rising further.
As a precautionary measure, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has instructed all ward officers and hospitals to keep a detailed record of the deceased patients for analysis.
“In June, when the mortality rate was over 5%, we initiated Mission Save Life. Now, again we have reissued the same guidelines. We have asked hospitals and civic officials to maintain records of the deceased like when the patient was detected, how long the deceased took to get admitted, what medicines were provided among others,” said Suresh Kakani, additional commissioner, BMC. “If fatality rate increases, it would help us to understand the reason behind the deaths and make adequate changes in policies,” he added.
In January, the positivity rate in the city was only 4%, which has now increased to over 20%. “We are focusing on three aspects— mass vaccination, increasing hospital beds and testing as much as possible. But the public needs to be more responsible. In fact, we are asking the beneficiaries who have taken the jab to keep wearing masks just as a precautionary measure,” said Dr Mangala Gomare, executive health officer, BMC.