There has been a six-fold rise in the number of active Covid-19 cases reported across Maharashtra in the last seven days. Until December 23, the active cases were 103 which has now increased to 620 on December 30. Mumbai accounts for 22% of total active cases during the same period with 148 active cases.
Covid cases increase in State
“The cases have surged due to an increase in Covid testing and surveillance. Moreover, the festive season is also playing a role as people are not adhering to respiratory hygiene. Co-circulation of multiple respiratory viruses during a specific season is not uncommon. Influenza has been a major player in causing respiratory illnesses, especially during the flu season,” said a senior health official from the state health department.
He further said that the simultaneous presence of Covid-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, adds another layer of complexity to respiratory illness surveillance and management. Moreover it is important to monitor and assess the situation on a week-to-week basis, especially when dealing with a new sub-variant that is described as being highly evasive.
Meanwhile, for the third consecutive day, more than 100 new Covid cases have been recorded in the state. On December 31, 172 cases were recorded, of which 32 were from Mumbai.
Govt hospitals to conduct mock drills to check functionality of equipment
Given the rise in cases, all government hospitals have been directed to conduct mock drills to ensure the functionality of their oxygen systems, ventilators and other equipment. Stressing the significance of the next two weeks.
Dr Ishwar Gilada, consultant in HIV/STDs at Unison Medicare and Research Centre and also secretary general of Peoples Health Organisation-India (PHO), suggested that the high volume of Covid testing is unnecessary and targeted testing for suspected cases was sufficient.
“Unless a new coronavirus variant emerges, equivalent or more severe than Delta, there’s no cause for concern. Omicron acted as a variant of support for India, enabling the country’s reopening, resumption of schools/colleges, tourism, socialisation and economic growth. It's milder than the common cold, flu and RSV. Preparedness is crucial for pandemic preparedness, not just Covid. Genome sequencing and drills should continue; no need for Covid bulletins or bed reservations, which can have collateral damage on other health conditions,” he said.
Individuals, especially senior citizens advised to wear masks and avoid crowded places
While there is no mask mandate, individuals, especially senior citizens and those with severe comorbidities as well as those residing with such individuals or going to crowded places, are encouraged to wear masks. Doctors recommended that masks are beneficial not only in preventing Covid-19 infections but also in protecting against other viral and bacterial infections.
“Additionally, masks prove useful in mitigating the adverse effects of pollutants and allergens, which are prevalent during winter and fluctuations in the Air Quality Index (AQI),” said Dr Gilada.
JN.1 variant increases to 29
The state has reported 19 new cases of JN.1 variant on December 30 increasing the total number of cases to 29. Of the new cases, 12 are from Pune, followed by Beed (3), Chhatrapati Sambhajinagar (2) and one each in Kolhapur and Nashik Districts. Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, chairman, Maharashtra Covid-19 task force said that there is no situation where the JN-1 corona subtype will pose a big threat. However, senior citizens and patients with serious illnesses still need to be taken care of.