COVID-19 cases across Maharashtra have surged by 20.32 per cent in the last 25 days compared to the 6 per cent rise that was recorded from February 4 to February 28. Officials have attributed this sudden surge to the increase in the number of tests being conducted across the state. Moreover, citizens not following COVID-19 protocols has also contributed to the spike.
According to the statistics, 4,39,366 cases were reported in the state between March 1 and March 25 compared to the 1,19,068 cases that were witnessed between February 4 and February 28, which means the spike in the cases was four times. “Unlike other states that are testing only patients with symptoms, we are testing all. It is bound to increase our numbers,” said Dr Tatyarao Lahane, director, Medical Education and Research.
Dr Subhash Salunke, advisor to the Maharashtra government on COVID-19 management, believes that there should have been rigorous testing and contact tracing. “These are the two basic, but the most important tools, to curb the spread of the virus. Moreover, the earlier you trace and isolate an infected person, the sooner you can bring the situation under control,” he said.
He added that the most prominent reason behind the surge in cases in February was the crowding witnessed during the gram panchayat elections held in mid-January. “Results of the gram panchayat elections in almost 12,000 villages were out in the third week of January. After this, the winning panels and their supporters gathered in their respective villages without wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance," Salunke added.
Dr Gautam Bhansali, consultant physician of Bombay hospital and coordinator of private hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, said the cases have been surging due to the rise in the number of tests being conducted and it will continue to do so for the next 10 to 15 days. Moreover, a second wave has already started across Maharashtra. “There is no need to worry though the cases are increasing. We have increased our testing by almost 20 per cent to 25 per cent compared to what was done in January. We need to adhere to COVID-19 norms and not step out until there is an emergency,” he said.
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner, BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), said they have increased the tests being conducted by almost 60 per cent. “We can sustain this spike in cases because of our available medical infrastructure. Lockdown is not being planned in Mumbai. It will bring all activities to a halt. Instead, we are going to increase the city’s bed capacity. Testing is being scaled up to 50,000 to 60,000 daily and vaccination is being accelerated,” he said.