Mumbai: Over the last seven days, there has been a 59 per cent drop in the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in a 24-hour period in Mumbai.
According to data released by the BMC, the count of new cases dropped from 189 on April 11 to 77 on April 17. The number of single-day deaths too has dropped in the same period, from 11 to 5.
Health officials, however, said the drop in number of positive cases in Mumbai is due to the change in testing protocol being implemented since April 16. Not all asymptomatic contacts of index cases will be tested hereafter.
Besides symptomatic contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19, only those asymptomatic contacts that are deemed high-risk contacts - such as immediate family members of other close contacts of positive cases will now be tested.
The BMC has now decided which asymptomatic high-risk contacts need testing at the end of a 14-day quarantine period. Incidentally, at least 70 per cent of coronavirus cases in Mumbai till now have been asymptomatic, detected either because they were close contacts of confirmed cases or present in hotspots, said an official.
As per the fresh guidelines issued on Thursday, the BMC will test only symptomatic people (suffering from cough, cold, fever, breathlessness), pregnant women, dialysis patients, patients on chemotherapy, healthcare workers, senior citizens, symptomatic high-risk contacts, and some asymptomatic high risk-contacts.
This is at variance from the Indian Council of Medical Research guideline to test all asymptomatic high-risk contacts, such as family members, between the fifth and 14th day of suspected exposure. In another change since Wednesday, the BMC decided that a suspected coronavirus death will be subjected to an audit before being confirmed.
“In nearly 85 per cent of the coronavirus deaths, comorbidities were responsible, and not the infection directly. So, from now on, only when it is confirmed that COVID-19 is the direct cause of death, will it be reported,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner (health) Suresh Kakani. Earlier, the BMC had been reporting deaths of all infected persons as COVID-19 deaths.
Officials said the change in protocol would also prevent deaths. Earlier, the focus was to test both symptomatic and asymptomatic contacts, which meant many with cough and cold but with no known contacts, were not getting tested. Dr Avinash Supe, Director of Hinduja Khar Hospital, who heads the committee to audit coronavirus deaths, also welcomed the decision. “Our aim is to prevent mortality.
Testing symptomatic people will help provide early treatment." However, he advised that high-risk asymptomatic people should be strictly quarantined even if they are not being tested.
According to the BMC’s public health department, 77 new coronavirus cases and five deaths were reported on Friday. Of the 77 cases, 15 were reported in Dharavi, including one death.
The total number of cases in the city till date is 2,120, with 129 deaths so far. As per the state health department, 118 new cases and seven deaths were reported in the state on Friday, taking the total count to 3,320 and 201 deaths so far.
Of the 7 deaths reported in the state, five were in Mumbai and two in Pune. Till now, 331 people have recovered from the disease.