While Mumbai limps back to normalcy, monsoon likely to bring its host of troubles

Mumbai As Mumbai business limps back to normalcy with the easing of lockdown restrictions, the city is bracing for the arrival of monsoon later this week. However, the rains could pose a double whammy for the already strained health infrastructure in the city – the challenges of battling the spread of COVID-19, while simultaneously tackling monsoon ailments such as dengue, leptospirosis and malaria.

The monsoon has advanced into some other parts of the country, and is likely to arrive in Mumbai by the end of this week, officials from the India Meteorological Department said on Wednesday. They have attributed this to the low-pressure formation in the Bay of Bengal, which has increased the chances of rain in and around Mumbai. Officials said as a low-pressure area (weather system) develops over the Bay of Bengal around June 8, it will enhance rainfall activity over the coast, especially the Konkan region, including Mumbai.

“Based on examples witnessed in previous years, and our weather models, when a low-pressure system develops over the Bay of Bengal, it leads to rainfall activity over the west coast due to changing wind patterns and increased moisture incursions. It is a positive development as it will allow the further advancement of monsoon, and most probably it will meet its new normal onset date of June 11 for Mumbai,” said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, Director General, IMD.

IMD officials said the conditions are especially favourable for rainfall in Marathwada from June 12-13, with the west coast becoming active for rainfall from Thursday onwards. Meanwhile, the maximum temperature hovered around 33 degrees Celsius at Colaba and Santacruz observatories, respectively, while the minimum temperature was also between 26 and 28 degrees Celsius. However, the relative humidity levels recorded at both stations were 89 and 71, respectively. “In the next two days the maximum and minimum temperature will drop by 2-3 degrees Celsius due to which the day will be warmer and nights will be cool,” said an official.

To tackle diseases that are usually reported in the city during the monsoons, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) plans to have a dedicated hospital to treat non-COVID patients suffering from monsoon ailments. “We are looking for hospitals which have enough beds and can be used in this season. For now, we have selected the mini hospital set up within the Sion Hospital premises for non-COVID patients. However, a decision on it will be taken next week,” said Dr Ramesh Bharmal, medical director of civic-run hospitals.

According to the data provided by the BMC’s health department, before the onset of monsoon, the city has so far reported 70 per cent less cases of dengue and malaria compared to the last five years. Infectious diseases expert Dr Vikrant Shah said the cases are less as the monsoon is yet to arrive, and that once it sets in, cases of malaria, dengue and leptospirosis will start increasing. Most of these cases are likely to be seen in the month of July and August, Shah said. “It will be a difficult time for doctors and patients as the symptoms are common with COVID-19, so it will be challenging to identify.

Doctors will need to analyse certain things, which include blood reports and clinical features for malaria and dengue, and based on that, treatment will be given,” he said. The BMC has, meanwhile, issued advisories requesting citizens to take extra care, not ignore fever and desist from selfmedication. They should be alert to symptoms for the next 7 to 10 days. If they have symptoms like fever with chills, joint pains, rashes, cough, breathlessness, diarrhoea, vomiting, sore throat or jaundice, they should immediately visit a nearby dispensary or inform the community health volunteer or consult their doctors

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