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The curious case of the Covid-19 resurgence in Mumbai and Maharashtra

In less than three weeks, Maharashtra’s seven-day moving average of new COVID-19 cases has doubled from around 2,400 to 4,800, raising concerns that another lockdown may be looming

February 22, 2021 / 12:48 PM IST
The Centre on February 20 said five states - Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh - are experiencing an upsurge in daily cases.

The Centre on February 20 said five states - Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh - are experiencing an upsurge in daily cases.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on February 21 said his government will take a call on re-imposing the lockdown in about 10 days following the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the state.

Thackeray warned that avoiding another lockdown was in the hands of the people and that everyone should continue to wear masks and abide by coronavirus safety protocols, especially in public places.

In a televised address to the state, Thackeray said that all large political, religious and social events involving large gatherings was being banned from February 22 to help curb the rising number of COVID-19 infections.

This came days after government officials and Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar warned that a lockdown may be re-imposed in the city if people continue to flout basic COVID-19 prevention rules.

“It’s a matter of concern. Most people travelling in trains don’t wear masks. People must take precautions else we’ll head towards another lockdown. Whether a lockdown will be implemented again is in the hands of people,” Pednekar had said.

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Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and Maharashtra were the worst-affected areas of the country since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in February-March 2020. As of February 20, Mumbai had reported 3.18 lakh Covid-19 cases. This number included around 2.99 lakh recoveries and 11,438 deaths.

The state’s overall tally was 20.93 lakh, including 19.92 lakh recoveries and more than 51,750 deaths. Data now shows that the State had crossed its peak in late-September 2020.

Through January, Maharashtra was reporting less than 3,000 cases per day. However, numbers from the first three weeks of February are a cause for worry.

The state has been reporting more than 3,000 new cases daily over the last week. In fact, the number jumped to 6,971 on February 21. As a result, the seven-day moving average has nearly doubled within a week’s time.

Data from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC)’s dashboard show that while testing numbers have remained in the same range as earlier, positive cases vis-à-vis tests conducted had spiked starting February 16. The COVID-19 positivity rate in Mumbai is around 10.15 percent and the financial hub’s doubling rate stands at 346.

Daily COVID-19 cases reported in Mumbai city between late January and February so far Daily COVID-19 cases reported in Mumbai city between late January and February so far

Fearing a resurgence in novel coronavirus infections, the BMC had already started deploying mobile COVID-19 testing vans in some pockets of the city such as Dharavi. One of the largest slums in Asia, Dharavi was among the biggest infection hotspots in the country in the initial months of the pandemic before the situation was brought under control. The ‘Dharavi Model’ of curbing the spread of Covid-19 was hailed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centre.

Some have attributed the sudden surge in COVID-19 cases to the reopening of commercial establishments, resumption of local train services for the general public and non-compliance with safety protocols. However, there is still no evidence at this stage to point out what exactly may have led to the spike.

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Moneycontrol News
first published: Feb 17, 2021 12:10 pm

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