‘First 2 weeks of June crucial for Mumbai’
The first 15 days of June, which will mark 11 days of relaxation of lockdown rules as part of the state’s Mission Begin Again, will prove to be crucial to determine the curve and peak of Covid-19 cases, according to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) analysis.
The state on Sunday announced lifting of curbs with a three-phased plan, following 2.5 months of lockdown owing to the Covid-19 outbreak. The relaxations will come into effect from June 3, June 5 and June 8, and will allow plying of taxis, cabs, auto-rickshaws for essential use, and opening up of garages and workshops, restarting services such as plumbers and electricians and permitting outdoor activities such as cycling and jogging, barring containment zones.
BMC has considered the 11-day period, as it is the approximate maximum incubation period for the virus before symptoms develop in any patient or the average maximum time taken for an asymptomatic positive patient to recover.
The cases are expected to rise during this time. Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner in-charge of the public health department in BMC, said, “If an unidentified asymptomatic positive person takes public transport, which is possible during relaxation, he is likely to infect more people than he would while sitting at home during lockdown. So the number of cases in the first 11-12 days after the relaxations will help BMC estimate the surge – the extent to which the virus can spread without the lockdown. This needs to be studied.” “It is difficult to determine the exact time period of the peak for Covid-cases to Mumbai. But I believe we are nearing the peak now.”
“This period will definitely give some clues about how the disease will spread after the lockdown is lifted,” said Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer.
During the lockdown, isolating the high-risk population is easier through contact-tracing, fever clinics and screening of random pool of citizens. “It helped in stopping Covid-19 suspects from socialising in the community and ensured timely medical help. However, post relaxations, the initial trend will help the government realise if the cases are stabilising, or the situation is getting worse. If figures go up during this time, we will have to scale up the resources further,” Kakani said.
Kakani pointed out the government has two options. “No lockdown, so that more people interact, leading to a surge in cases. The numbers will stabilise and begin to reduce quickly, after the maximum number of people are affected. The second strategy is lockdown, where there are small jumps initially and a longer stabilising phase. BMC is prepared to handle the surge using the first strategy. This can also lead to herd immunity,” he said.
Mumbai has been doing better than the earlier projections of BMC. Mumbai’s doubling rate has gone up to 16-17 days. The two worst-hit wards of G-South (Worli and Prabhadevi) and G-North (Dharavi, Dadar, and Mahim) are showing doubling rates of 25 or 26 days, according to Kakani.
“Taking the multiplication factor of the virus into consideration, this is pretty good.”