Maharashtra’s ‘alarming’ outbreak in Covid-19 cases due to easing and migration: experts
On June 27, Maharashtra reported 6,368 new cases of Covid-19 (after reconciling 1,050 cases), a one-day record high not only for the state but also for India. It was the fourth consecutive one-day peak record for the Western state, the worst-affected region in India, which has recorded 164,626 cumulative cases. From June 24 to June 28, off the June 27 balance sheet, Maharashtra recorded 3,890, 4,841, 5,024 and 5,493 new cases.
In the past week, up to June 27, the state recorded more than 4,400 new cases per day on average, up from 3,400 the week before. The doubling rate of cases – the number of days it takes for a given number of infections to double – fell from 24 days a week to 22 days on Saturday.
The positivity rate, too, showed no signs of slowing down. Two weeks ago, the state had an average positivity rate of 20.6%. It has been rising slowly but steadily since then despite a sharp increase in daily testing – as of June 27, the positivity rate was 22%. This means that the more samples the state tests, the more positive cases there are. Experts say this is an alarming sign.
In the other two high-caseload states – Tamil Nadu and Delhi – as testing has ramped up over the past two weeks, the positivity rate has declined. In Delhi, the average positivity rate fell from 30.7% two weeks ago to 18.7% on June 27. The corresponding number rose from 12.2% to 9.9% in Tamil Nadu.
All three states have significantly stepped up their testing during those two weeks. The number of average daily tests has increased from 14,000 to 20,000 in Maharashtra; 18,700 to 30,000 in Tamil Nadu; and 5,200-18,000 tests in Delhi in the past two weeks. Maharashtra tested 26,628 samples on Sunday, the highest since the first case was detected on March 9.
As overall Maharashtra cases exploded, Mumbai cases leveled off, but with one caveat – the number of tests has not increased significantly. During the 10 days from June 15 to 24, Mumbai tested only 40,110 samples, an average of 4,011 tests per day.
However, even with a similar number of tests in May and June, Mumbai’s share of the state’s overall cases fell from 59.49% on May 28 to 45.89% on June 28. Simultaneously, districts like Pune, Dhule, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nashik and Solapur, among others, have recorded an almost 10-fold increase in the number of cases, according to state-appointed district health workers.
The easing of national and state lockdowns and labor migration are the main reasons for the surge, they say.
“In May, most cases were reported in Mumbai and Pune. We had eight orange wedges and five green wedges. Now we have no more green districts due to the increase in Covid-19 cases, ”said Dr Pradeep Awate, epidemiologist and state surveillance official. “Districts like Nanded, Osmanabad, Beed and Bhandara have recorded a 100% increase in the number of Covid cases in one month.”
According to data provided by the Maharashtra health department, between May 28 and June 27, Mumbai saw a 118% increase in cases, but other hot spots such as Pune, Dhule, Aurangabad, Nagpur, Nashik and Solapur recorded nearly 10 times that number. .
For example, on May 28, Dhule had only 129 cases of Covid-19. On June 28, that figure rose to 962 cases. Jalgaon went from 526 cases on May 28 to 3,002 on June 28. Nashik went from 1,043 cases on May 28 to 3,902 cases on June 28. As of May 28, the Pune Municipal Society had 6,896 cumulative cases. As of June 28, that figure stood at 20,870 cases. “Hundreds of people stranded in different parts of the country have returned, which has contributed to the increase in numbers,” said Dr Awate.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Area (MMR), excluding Mumbai, has seen a similar alarming increase. Thane Municipal Corporation’s cases increased from 3,226 on May 28 to 9,264 on June 28. Palghar went from 129 to 5,267 during the same period.
“A large part of the population of Mumbai comes to MMR because they are economically dependent on the region. So, we not only need to control the cases in Mumbai, but also at MMR, ”said Dr Shashank Joshi, member of the state’s Covid-19 task force.
HT spoke to 10 district health workers (DHOs), and each of them said cases have increased mainly due to an easing of national and state lockdowns and human migration from metropolises to cities. and smaller villages.
Dr Aniruddha Athalye, (DHO), Satara, said: “We have recorded 42 Covid-related deaths, but 40 of them were migrants from Mumbai who died within hours of being admitted to hospitals due to delay in processing. ” According to him, Satara has 1,004 people afflicted with Covid, but 80% of them are those who came from Mumbai, Pune and Uttar Pradesh.
In Latur, of the 275 cases of Covid-19 in total, 95% are migrants. “With the relaxation of containment, several migrants have returned home. Gradually, asymptomatic infected people began to spread the disease to family members. We had no cases in the first week of May, ”said Dr G Garaghe, DHO. Latur had 303 cases on June 28.
In Dhule, people were infected while trying to provide food and water to migrants on the Mumbai-Agra highway. “Although it is a noble cause, 45 people have contracted the infection,” said Dr Shivendra Shagle of Dhule DHO. “These cases were just the beginning. Soon it began to spread among others. Dhule has 962 cumulative cases on June 28, up from 129 a month ago.
According to Dr Taranglushar Ware, DHO of Yavatmal, around 20 people who had visited the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi in April were the first patients in the district.
All DHOs HT spoke to said the general public has not followed physical distancing standards since the government announced an easing of the lockdown on June 3. “The relaxation of the national lockdown was implemented for economic reasons, but people are behaving irresponsibly. We are therefore unable to break the chain of infection. We have asked the state to extend the lockdown, ”said Dr AR Gita, DHO of Aurangabad where cases rose to 4,833 (June 28) from 1,370 (May 28).
Besides a lack of discipline, health activists have blamed the state’s rigid testing policy behind the increase in cases. Dr Athalye said asymptomatic migrants do not qualify for a swab test for the diagnosis. “Later, these carriers infected more people. If we had tested them earlier, we could have controlled the spread, ”he said.
Dr Abhijit More, co-organizer of Jan Aarogya Abhiyan, a pan-Maharashtra health sector NGO, criticized the state government for not testing all migrants, even when they fell into the vulnerable category .
He also claimed that due to an insufficient number of tests, thousands of cases go unreported. “Although Mumbai has reached its plateau, the positivity rate is 22%. This means that the number of infected people is high. Many districts may have reached their peak of pandemics; so if we run more tests we can identify more cases, ”Dr More said.