Mumbai: More than 20,000 new Covid cases were recorded across Maharashtra on Wednesday, with 26,538 new infections and eight deaths being reported in the last 24 hours, pushing its tally to 67,57,032, with 1,41,581 fatalities till now. In Mumbai, the daily case count was in five digits for the fourth time since the pandemic -- 15,166 cases were recorded, the highest number of single-day cases in Mumbai since the pandemic began and 11,163 cases were recorded on April 4. The total number of cases has now surged to 8,33,628 cases, with 16,384 fatalities so far.
However, of the 15,166 new cases, 13,195 (87 per cent) patients are asymptomatic while 1,218 patients have been hospitalised and 80 are on oxygen support. Moreover, 5,104 of 35,487 hospital beds, around 14.4 per cent of the total hospital beds are available in the city.
Dr Pradeep Vyas, additional chief secretary for health, said as per the projections of the state health department active cases were likely to breach the 2,00,000-mark by the third week of January, and 3,00,000 by the first week of February.
“We are likely to cross two lakh (0.2 million) active cases by the third week of this month and by the first of February, active cases are likely to cross three lakh (0.3 million) in the state. But we can’t say one lakh (0.1 million) will be reported during the peak, as it is too early to predict because only Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nagpur are showing an increase in cases but other districts are silent. It will also create unnecessary panic,” Vyas said.
The state also reported 144 cases of the Omicron variant of concern (VOC) on Monday. Of these, 100 were from Mumbai, 11 from Nagpur, seven each from Thane and Pune, six from Pimpri Chinchwad, five from Kolhapur, two each from Amravati , Ulhasnagar and Bhiwandi-Nizampur and one each from Panvel and Osmanabad.
The total number of Omicron cases recorded in the state now stand at 797, of which 330 cases have been discharged following a negative RT-PCR test.
“Omicron is much more transmissible than Delta. In eight days, there have been 12,000 daily cases from around 1,500 cases, which shows it spreads much faster than the old variants and thus by the third week, the state will have over 0.15 million active cases. By February, a peak in daily cases will start which will go up to one million cases a day,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.
Experts from the Covid-19 taskforce said the third wave would be predominantly an Omicron wave, as it has already replaced 90 per cent of Delta variant cases in the state. The number of patients who require hospitalisation is very low at the moment. “Bed occupancy is less, as more than 90 per cent beds are vacant. Hardly do Omicron patients need oxygen and the number of patients on ventilator support is also low. Most of those on ventilators were infected by the Delta variant. We are hoping hospitals should not be overwhelmed by a large number of patients,” said Dr Shashanki Joshi, member, Maharashtra Covid-19 Taskforce.
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