Healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) check the temperature of a resident at a slum during a check-up camp for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Mumbai, India.(REUTERS)
Healthcare workers wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) check the temperature of a resident at a slum during a check-up camp for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Mumbai, India.(REUTERS)

Maharashtra curbs lifted, govt expects surge; Mumbai past 50K cases

Maharashtra on Monday reported 109 deaths, including 64 in Mumbai, as the toll went up to 3,169.
Hindustan Times, Mumbai | By Surendra P Gangan
UPDATED ON JUN 15, 2020 02:57 AM IST

Maharashtra’s Covid-19 case count on Monday surged to 88,528 with the addition of 2,553 more infections and Mumbai crossed the grim mark of 50,000 with 1,311 more patients, even as the government expects an even bigger spike in the wake of the third phase of its Mission Begin Again coming into effect from Monday.

The state government allowed private offices in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) to operate at 10% of its workforce or 10 employees (whichever is higher). This relaxation, along with the resumption of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) bus services, saw more traffic snarls on the roads. The state had, from last week, allowed physical activities such as jogging, running and non-essential shops to operate on alternate days in red zones (excluding containment areas).

The state on Monday reported 109 deaths, including 64 in Mumbai, as the toll went up to 3,169.

The recovery rate in the state has improved to 46.28% after 40,975 patients were discharged till Monday.

The recovery rate in the state was 26.25% on May 20, 29.06% on May 24, 31.26% on May 28 and improved to 43.38% on May 29 after as many as 8,381 patients were reported as recovered following the changes in norms to discharge patients.

The mortality rate, however, went up to 3.57% from 3.25% on May 25 and 3.37% on May 31 even as the national rate witnessed a gradual fall. The national mortality rate fell to 2.78% on Sunday, from 3.06% on May 21 and 2.84% on May 31.

The state health department has clarified that of the 109 deaths reported on Monday, 32 were reported in the past two days, while the rest are from May 3 to June 5. Of the total deaths, 70 are from MMR, eight in Aurangabad, seven in Pune and six each in Solapur and Jalgaon. 59 of the people who died were above 60 years of age and 89 of them had comorbidities.

The state government is closely watching the trend and behaviour of the virus after the lockdown was relaxed in a phased manner over the past one week and even after May 22.

Officials from the team of bureaucrats taking decisions on the curbs and relaxations said that there was no surge in cases in the districts after the lockdown was relaxed. “There was a rise in the cases in districts like Nashik, Aurangbad, Nashik after the lockdown was lifted in the third week of May, but it was not a surge. The rise is proportional and the doubling rate of cases in these areas is improving. There was no exponential growth in cases. However, contrary to it, we still expect a surge in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Pune and Aurangabad after the relaxations from curbs in three phases over the past one week,” said the officer.

The officer said that the surge, however, should not be always related to the opening up of the lockdown. He said that few municipal corporations, including Nagpur and Malegaon, have successfully contained the spread and maybe given more relaxations in the next phases. “There is no discussion held on the next phase of the Mission Begin Again as it will all depend on the trend witnessed in MMR, Pune and other cities like Solapur, Aurangbad after the rolling out of relaxations,” he said.

According to a report published on Monday by the Medical Education and Drug Department, among the admitted patients, 83% are asymptomatic, while 13% are symptomatic and 4% critical. The report stated that the highest number of Covid-19 cases is in the age group of 31-40 years with 20.29%, followed by 19.33% of patients between 21 and 30 years.

Another official said that a next phase of Mission Begin Again cannot be implemented unless resumption of suburban trains facilities in MMR. “Barring industrial units, malls, multiplexes, almost everything else has been opened, even in red zones. We cannot increase the percentage of employees for private offices or allow more industrial-commercial activities unless suburban trains are allowed. We expect suburban train services to be allowed by the Centre, beginning with essential/emergency services soon,” he said.

The official said that district authorities and the municipal corporations have been directed to focus on a two-fold strategy. He said that they have been told to augment the health infrastructure on one hand and contain the spread by strict implementation of curbs in containment zones. The authorities have been told to go for aggressive tracing of high and low-risk contacts of patients and identify them within 24 hours. “They have been told to closely monitor travellers entering into districts and municipal jurisdictions from affected cities like Mumbai and Pune,” he said.

A total of 12,684 samples have been tested in the past 24 hours, with a positivity rate of 20.12%. The state has 3,510 containment zones, which have greater curbs of lockdown in place, while 17,895 surveillance teams ensure tracing of contacts. Currently, 5,64,736 people are under home quarantine.

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