Amidst the increase in COVID-19 cases in Mumbai, health experts and civic officials have urged citizens to maintain social distance and use masks and sanitisers (SMS) to avoid contracting the virus. The former have also warned that cases are likely to increase from next week, citing Unlock 4.0 that permits inter district movement. Many citizens will now start coming to the city to resume their work.
Mumbai had only around 7,000 cases until April 30. It reported around 31,874 cases in May, 36,559 cases in June, 35,139 cases in July, and 30,474 cases in August. Mumbai has, since August 26, been reporting between 1,100 to 1,800 cases daily.
In the last six days, Mumbai recorded 9,125 cases with an average of 1,520 cases per day, which is also more than the average daily infections (900 to 1,400) reported in August. Currently the overall count of the city is 1,53,712 with 22,975 active cases.
Civic officials had anticipated a spike in COVID-19 cases after the lockdown eased and was followed by Ganeshotsav. “There will be a spike in the number of cases being reported daily and it is because of the relaxations. During Ganeshotsav, many went out and this might increase our tally,” said Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of COVID-19 task force said that the pandemic has entered its ninth month. However, even today, the virus is predictably unpredictable, both in its virology and the human immune system response it evokes. India’s count has rapidly peaked at more than three million cases, though the disease has been asymptomatic or mild in most cases. Most Indians have recovered due to their strong immunity, but there is no letting our guard down.
“The biggest challenge is posed by asymptomatic carriers --often, children and the younger generation-- who must ensure that they SMS (sanitisation, masking and social distancing) all the time. Avoiding crowded clusters and poorly ventilated spaces is the key. At eateries, one tends to unmask while eating. In public places, this poses a risk, which everyone must be aware of and be careful with. Toilets, especially in public and office spaces, are another focal point of transmission. So, everyone has to take care of themselves in such times, as we unlock gradually,” he said.
Health officials are still wary about the relaxations being a reason behind the spike in cases across the state. Doing away with the restrictions on interdistrict movement will worsen the situation. “The spike in cases in the state on earlier occasions were mostly because of the movement of the people, especially those coming from red zones. The opening up of activities from Wednesday will lead to the rise in the cases,” said an official.
Meanwhile, mathematical projection on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic worked out by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and submitted to the BMC has said that, by December this year or January next year, almost 75 per cent of the people living in slum pockets in the city and 50 per cent of people from non-slum pockets would have antibodies.
The TIFR team has said the city should open up by 30 per cent in September in terms of attendance in offices and capacity of transport systems. This could be increased to 50 per cent in October. “The city should be further opened up gradually and become fully operational by around November 1,” said Dr Juneja. However, social distancing norms should be observed in public transport and hygiene measures should be followed.