Covid-19 cases have increased by 46.25 per cent across Mumbai in the last 24 hours, with 3,671 new cases being reported on Thursday compared to 2,510 cases on December 29. The total number of cases has now surged to 7,79,479 till now. Meanwhile, the test positivity rate (TPR) has almost doubled from 4.84 per cent to 7.92 per cent on Thursday. Civic and health officials said the third wave of Covid-19 pandemic has started across Maharashtra and urged people to follow Covid appropriate behaviour to avoid transmission of the virus. However, they are also awaiting the genome sequence report to conclude whether cases have surged due to Omicron or it is a combination of Delta and Omicron.
Moreover, for the seventh time in December, the city has reported zero Covid deaths on Thursday. The death toll is 16,375 so far.
Maharashtra also witnessed a sudden spike in the daily Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, with 5,368 new cases and 22 Covid deaths being recorded on Thursday, pushing its tally to 66,70,754, with 1,41,518 fatalities till now.
Dr Rahul Pandit, a member of the National and Maharashtra Covid-19 task force, said the rate of which the cases are doubling clearly indicates that it is the characteristics of Omicron, but they have to wait for the genome sequencing report to understand the share of Omicron. Right now, it looks like a combination of Delta and Omicron. “I urge people to follow the rules and not hesitate to get themselves tested if they feel the symptoms. However, the lockdown will be imposed only if the government sees if there is immense pressure on health infrastructure,” added Dr Pandit.
Dr Shashank Joshi, member of Maharashtra Covid-19 task-force said they are reasonably certain that most of the Mumbai cases are Omicron due to mild and fast-spreading nature. The double doubling pattern in Mumbai also suggests that the strain is Omicron. “We can see that it is a mild disease and there is low hospitalisation and most are being treated at home. Moreover, he urged people not to panic and only be cautious. He advised people to avoid gatherings of people and events such as weddings and parties,” Dr Joshi said.
Meanwhile, amid the surge of Covid and Omicron variant cases in five districts of Maharashtra, the Centre on Thursday has written to the health secretary of the state directing them to take measures as there has been an increase in Covid cases and lessening of doubling time. They have also been asked to enhance testing, strengthen hospital-level preparedness, increase pace and coverage of vaccination. Moreover, the state has to enhance the testing in a focused manner with maintaining the ratio between RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). Health officials from the state health department said they have directed all the district health officers to start preparing to handle the possible third wave of Covid and to increase the pace of vaccination drive in all districts.
“States were also advised to undertake enhanced surveillance of international travelers, continued monitoring of emerging hotspots, contact tracing of positive individuals & follow up for 14 days, sending all positive samples for genome sequencing, early identification of cases through adequate testing, review of health infrastructure preparedness (including in rural areas and for paediatric cases), and most importantly to focus on enforcement of Covid Appropriate Behaviour, IEC & community sensitization,” read a letter issued by Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary on Thursday.
Bhushan also asked the state to control the spread of infection further and detect early cases in each district if they do not want Covid mortality to increase. “The districts of Mumbai, Mumbai Suburban, Pune, Thane and Nagpur have reported a sudden and significant surge in cases in the last two weeks. This issue needs to be addressed proactively and immediately to ensure that neither the transmission spreads further nor do we reach a situation of increased mortality due to late detection of the cases,” he said.
Senior health officials said they have been asked to enhance testing, strengthen hospital-level preparedness, increase pace and coverage of vaccination. Moreover, they have been advised to go for proactive contact tracing and isolation and quarantine of the contacts of positive cases, their testing and follow up.
“We have also placed orders to ensure enough stock of eight medicines commonly used for Covid-19 patients, including repurposed drugs such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumab, steroids, anticoagulants, and intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), among others. The state had also made a budgetary provision to procure monoclonal antibodies that have been found effective in patients with mild to moderate symptoms. However, the plan has been put on hold as the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is yet to include the cocktail therapy in its treatment protocol,” said a senior health officer.
Dr Rajesh Dere, dean of BKC jumbo centre, said he has started recruiting doctors, nurses and ward boys. The instructions for him are to recruit enough manpower so that all 2,328 beds can be activated by January 1.
“We are recruiting 200 doctors, 250 ward boys and an equal number of nurses that is needed to operationalise all beds,” he said, adding that many who have worked at the centre during the second and first waves have been called back.
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