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‘Drop in non-Covid deaths for March compared to past 3 years’

By Eeshanpriya M S, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON APR 13, 2020 10:54 PM IST

The city saw 5,669 non-Covid deaths in March, a drop from 7,155 reported in the month in 2019, 7,436 in March 2018 and 7,815 in 2017, according to a study compiled by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

The state government began its staggered lockdown since March 12, when gymnasiums and swimming pools were closed. On March 13, schools and cinema halls were notified to be closed, and March 14, malls were notified to be closed. A strict work from home advisory for all was issued around March 19-March 20. Maharashtra has been on a complete lockdown since March 25. Local trains in Mumbai stopped working on March 22.

Authorities have attributed the drop to early diagnosis, as people are urgently seeking medical advice for any illness or ailment and maintaining strict personal hygiene, even in densely populated areas with community toilets, amid Covid-19 outbreak and the lockdown. The lockdown and shutting of public transport have reduced the deaths owing to road accidents, trauma, Mumbai’s suburban train and tracks-related accidental deaths, and crimes.

“We got the numbers and noticed today that there is a 24% reduction in mortality. Everyone is maintaining very strict personal hygiene, people are eating better, and upping their immunity to safeguard against Covid-19, so there are fewer deaths due to other vector-borne diseases. These are our obvious inferences and need to be vetted with examples and case studies. That will take some time,” said Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, who is incharge of BMC’s health department.

Experts have also attributed this to absence of industrial accidents as factories are shut, better lifestyle due to reduced incidents of immediate and high pressure leading to heart attacks or hypertension, fewer incidents of asthma attacks due to a cleaner environment and reduced medical surgeries.

V Ranganathan, a retired bureaucrat and former municipal commissioner of Mumbai, said, “This is not a unique case. It has happened before. During the 1917 flu epidemic, or more recently in Canada, when all medical professions were on a 45-day strike, the mortality reduced. Right now, the number of medical surgeries for other ailments has gone down. Serious medical surgeries have a chance of not being successful, and hence contribute to mortality rate. There is also the general attention to hygiene, upped immunity, and zero industrial accidents, no road accidents... “

Rakesh Maria, who was former commissioner of Mumbai, said, “Reduced traffic accidents, train accidents, and crime definitely play a role in mortality rate. People are indoors. However, we cannot draw an inference from this that everyone must stay at home at all times even after Covid-19 has passed.”

Dr Sanjay Pattiwar, public health consultant from Navi Mumbai, said, “This trend is also because people are home. Heart and hypertension patients are relieved as they are with family. Psychologically, it helps them do better health-wise. With social distancing, spread of communicable diseases, which weaken the immune system, has gone down. Similarly, diseases such as gastroenteritis and diarrhoea have reduced as people are not eating out.”

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