Updated on: Thursday, December 30, 2021, 09:25 AM IST

COVID-19: Is Mumbai on the cusp of a third wave?

Representative Image
 | PTI

Representative Image | PTI


Mumbai seems to be on the cusp of a third Covid wave: an ominous indicator is the nearly 82% spike in cases over that on Tuesday. The city clocked 2,510 cases on Wednesday and 20 related deaths, as against 1,377 cases the previous day.

As the number of cases in the city spiral, the weekly doubling rate has fallen in the last seven days. According to BMC data, the current overall doubling rate of cases has dropped to 682 days from 2,050 days (until December 21). (For the greenhorns, doubling time is the number of days required for the number of cases in a pandemic to double, based on the rate of cumulative increase in number of cases.)

Health department officials have attributed this to the laxity in public behaviour by not religiously adhering to Covid norms, resulting in a surge in caseload and a corresponding drop in the doubling rate. Some doctors are saying this spike in the daily case count marks the start of the third wave; however, civic officials are treading over eggshells and maintain that it is too early to term it so. Mumbai has been a Covid hotspot ever since the outbreak.

Until mid-December, cases had been declining significantly. But over the last one week, there has been a sudden surge in daily cases. However, the number of fatalities has not risen, after having dropped marginally in the past two-three months, when the daily deaths remained below five.

Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the State’s Covid-19 taskforce, said there was a possible third wave in Mumbai, with the numbers clearly suggesting a discernible trend; but given that the cases were mild, there was no major strain on healthcare as of now. Nonetheless, vigilance and caution had to be exercised. “Near certain we have an Omicron outbreak in Mumbai, but genomics needs to confirm it. “We definitely need to be on our guard. We need to ramp up our genomic sequencing.

The positivity rate in early December was below 0.5 per cent and now it is nearing 2 per cent in Mumbai, the current hotspot, considering the high population density.

Currently, there is a huge population that has arrived from abroad after attending weddings and various functions,” he said. Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said there were several factors for the drop in the doubling rate of the city. Cases have risen over the last couple of days, as indicated by the decrease in the doubling rate and increase in growth rate.

Accordingly, containment measures were being stepped up; there was no talk of a lockdown but citizens would have to be more alert and adhere to Covid-safety protocol, Kakani said. “Plus, 90 per cent of activities in Mumbai are in the open, where people are not following Covid-appropriate behaviour, leading to an increase in cases.

Till December 31, we have decided to do genome sequencing of all positive cases to check whether they are Omicron or a Delta derivative or the Delta variant. The last time when we did genome sequencing, we found that Delta was the dominant variant,” Kakani said.

Experts from the civic health department said the main reason for a surge in the positivity rate in the last one week was the violation of Covid norms by people. Office-goers are not wearing masks in office, due to which the chances of an infection increase. “Even though cases have increased, there is no need to panic. I urge citizens to wear masks whether they are in office or visiting crowded places, so that they will not contract an infection,” he said.

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Published on: Thursday, December 30, 2021, 09:25 AM IST