Mumbai: Train services can be a factor for spike in COVID-19 cases, says BMC chief

While the civic officials have been maintaining that there was no link between a spike in number of COVID-19 cases and the resumption of local train services, BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said that some of the cause for the rise in cases could be attributed to the large volume of public movement in the transport system.

This, however, has not gone down well with activists and elected public representatives who have criticised the civic body for not stepping up containment measures before resuming trains services.

Chahal said: "Yes it is true, and I have been saying that it would take at least three weeks for us to understand if the trains have caused any rise in cases. Now we are exactly three weeks away from February 1 and resumption of train services can be one of the factors for the rise in the number of cases."

The BMC data shows that the resumption of the local train service is seen as one of the major factors behind the spike in numbers in Mumbai. Till February 1, the daily positive cases were under 400, but by the end of the first week of February, the number surpassed the 500 mark.

By February 13, the cases were 599, which jumped to 897 on February 20. However, on February 24 the number of COVID cases crossed 1,000-mark. On Wednesday, the city reported 1,167 cases, highest since November 28. The BMC has scaled up containment measures and is taking strict action against violators of the COVID norms. The state government is monitoring the situation and will take a decision in the next eight days if cases continue to rise.

Abhijit Samant, corporator from Vile Parle, said, "It was obvious that people from non-slum areas and high-rises who were at home under lockdown are now out for work. Hence, more number of cases is now being reported from high rises and non-slum areas. However, the civic body slowed down its action against COVID norm violators. We can call this an overconfidence of the BMC administration, which has now led to a rise in the number of cases."

Chahal said, "We have already initiated a process to re-activate all major COVID care centres and jumbo COVID centres across the city and suburb. We have already met and discussed this with the heads of major private and government hospitals."

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