Maharashtra third state in country to cross 1-crore Covid-19 tests mark
Maharashtra also continued to report more than 5,000 cases for the third consecutive day with 5,640 fresh Covid-19 cases on Friday.Updated: Nov 21, 2020, 00:27 IST
With 70,546 tests conducted in the past 24 hours, Maharashtra became the third state in the country to cross 1 crore Covid-19 detection tests, after Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Since the outbreak, Maharashtra has tested 10,035,665 samples with a positivity rate of 17.62%.
Health experts, however, maintain that the state, which has more than 500 laboratories including private labs, has not fully utilised its testing capacity. They said the state would have to ramp up testing to keep the probable second wave of Covid-19 in check by testing close contacts and super spreaders.
According to data shared by Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance office, 60.43% or 6,064,735 of the total tests were reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests and the remaining 39.57% or 3,970,930 were rapid antigen tests.
Maharashtra continued to report more than 5,000 cases for the third consecutive day with 5,640 fresh Covid-19 cases on Friday. The total caseload in the state touched 1,768,695, of which 78,272 are active. The state also reported 155 fatalities, pushing the death toll to 46,511.
After eight days of clocking less than 1,000 cases daily, Mumbai on Friday reported 1,031 new infections, taking the city’s tally to 273,486. The last time Mumbai reported more than 1,000 cases was on November 11. The city also reported 12 deaths, pushing death toll to 10,639. The number of active cases in Mumbai stood at 11,822.
As anticipated by health experts and authorities, the number of cases reported is seeing an increase than the previous weeks. On Friday, Pune reported 748 cases, followed by 517 in Thane district (including municipal corporations in the district), 463 in Nagpur district and 379 in Nashik district.
State health minister Rajesh Tope said he was concerned about the gradual increase in Covid-19 cases in Mumbai. Tope, who was in Ratnagiri on Friday to take stock of the situation, said people in the state must learn from what Delhi is facing and must not lower their guard. The minister added that if the second wave hits the state, it will prove “costly” for everybody.
“Today, cases are gradually going up in Mumbai, and it is concerning. Therefore, people must remain cautious. We must learn from Delhi and Kerala where the growth rates are going up. People do not wear masks and are taking the situation for granted. The second wave will prove costly for everybody and we must prevent it,” he said.
Awate, however, said there was no increase in case positivity rate and attributed the increase in cases to higher number of tests. “There is no major increase in cases and the positivity rate is still under 10%. The testing during Diwali period had decreased due to several factors. The increase in cases could be attributed to that. However, we are taking all precautions to contain the spread,” he said.
Dr Subhash Salunkhe, advisor to the state on Covid-19 control and member of a state-appointed committee on communicable diseases, said the state must increase testing. “There was a downward trend before Diwali, and we are seeing some increase in cases in some cities and districts. Despite appeals from the chief minister, ministers and experts, people have not been adhering to Covid-appropriate behaviour. Besides, the state must increase testing to its full capacity. For instance, Pune conducts around 3,500 test daily, but it should increase to 6,500-7,500 tests per day,” Salunkhe said.
N Ramaswami, commissioner, health services, said the department has already directed to increase testing to contain the spread of the coronavirus. “During the festival season the number of tests had gone done. We have already instructed our field missions to conduct the maximum number of tests. Besides regular tests, we also have to test teachers now as schools are going to reopen. Testing is the only way we can control the spread,” he said.
Tope said while the state government has unlocked almost all activities, people have to take masking and social distancing seriously to prevent another wave. The minister added that the state would now increase the limit of people allowed to attend weddings in the state.
When asked if the need could arise for another lockdown in the state to prevent the second wave, Salunkhe said he would not recommend lockdown. “Now the role of lockdown would not be much. As there are multiple complex issues involved in it, I won’t prescribe a lockdown. But I certainly want people to wear a mask and follow social distancing,” he said.
Ramaswami said the state’s health infrastructure is prepared even if there is a surge in cases as predicted by health experts and authorities. The second wave could hit the state by December-end or in January-February, according to the two prediction models. “We have already instructed that districts must prepare for 10% additional cases to what the district had recorded earlier. We are concentrating on prevention. Even if there is a surge, we will be able to tackle it. We are geared up satisfactorily,” he said.
Meanwhile, Friday also saw 6,945 patients being discharged after recovery, taking the tally of total recovered patients to 1,642,916. The recovery rate in the state improved to 92.89%. Currently, 558,090 people are in home quarantine and 4,883 people are in institutional quarantine.