Are coronavirus cases in Mumbai plateauing?
Since June 15, the city has not recorded major spikes in the pandemic curve, leading Maharashtra health officials to believe that the virus spread may have hit a plateau in Mumbai.Updated: Jul 06, 2020 06:09 IST
In the last 10 days, in descending order of dates from Sunday, recorded 1,287, 1,163, 1,338, 1,554, 1,487, 893, 1,226, 1,287, 1,402 and 1,297 cases, averaging 1,293 cases per day. This number was 1,275 for the week ending June 27, and 1,214 the week ending June 20. In the three weeks before that, Mumbai recorded 1,354, 1,273 and 1,375 new cases every day at an average.
Since June 15, the city has not recorded major spikes in the pandemic curve, leading Maharashtra health officials to believe that the virus spread may have hit a plateau in Mumbai.
That is not the case for the rest of the state, however. If Maharashtra’s 200,000 cases are divided into four bands of 50,000 cases each, an alarming trend emerges. The first 50,000 cases took 77 days (on May 24), while the next 50,000 came in the next 19 days on June 12. The state crossed 150,000 cases just two weeks later on June 26. The 200,000-case mark came just eight days later.
In the last week, Maharashtra reported 5,847 new cases every day on average – the highest ever recorded. The week before, this number was 4,418, and it was 3,376 the week before, all record highs until then. In fact, the average new case graph rose every day for nearly a month.
Another worry for Maharashtra is the rise in active cases. In the last week, the state added nearly 15,700 active cases. The week before that, active cases increased a little over 9,500. Active cases is a crucial metric because it directly reflects the pressure on the health care system. As of Sunday, there are 86,040 active cases in the state. On June 25, there were 63,342. Recovery rate improved marginally from 52.42% to 54.08% in the same period.
Mumbai, however, appears to have hit a plateau, in both daily cases as well as active cases. As of July 5, Mumbai’s active cases stood at 23,732. The city recorded 55,884 recoveries out of 84,524 cumulative cases, logging a recovery rate of 66.12%. In contrast, on June 25, Mumbai’s active cases stood at 27,659, with 39,149 recoveries out of a total of 70,878 cases. The recovery rate in Mumbai was 55.23%. Since then, the recovery rate in the city has risen by 10.89 percentage points, and the active cases have dropped by 14.2%.
This is not enough to put Mumbai in the clear, according to Dr Abhijit More, co-convenor of Jan Arogya Abjiyaan, a pan-Maharashtra health sector NGO. He said testing in Mumbai was inadequate. “The number of tests has remained constant between 4,000 and 4,500. The identification of cases has therefore maintained a similar path. If the civic-body starts testing more, the pandemic curve will go up, rather than remaining constant,” he said.
From June 25 to July 3, Mumbai averaged 5,025 samples tested a day, and from June 1 to June 24, it averaged 4,298 samples.
Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the state Covid-19 task force, refuted More’s claim and said when the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation was testing between 2,500 and 4,000 samples every day in April, the positivity rate was higher. For example, on April 28, when the city recorded its highest one-day spike with 2,105 cases, the BMC tested 4,093 samples, giving a positivity rate of 51.43%. “In the last week of May, when we recorded the highest spike in cases, our testing figure was between 3,500 and 4,500 samples. Despite increasing the number of tests in June and July, the pandemic curve hasn’t gone up. It has rather plateaued,” Dr Joshi said.
Public health experts said the plateauing is not uniform across the city. Cases seem to have slowed down only in south Mumbai, they said, where some locations recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases, whereas numbers are gradually increasing in north Mumbai, especially in the western suburbs.