There has been an 82 per cent rise in the number of paediatric corona cases -- the 0-10 years age group -- in the last one month, while more than 90 per cent of those in the 31-40 and the 61-90 age groups have been stricken. State health officials have attributed this rise to the lockdown relaxations, the increase in the number of employees at workplaces, inter-district movement and Ganeshotsav.
According to a report of the Medical Education and Drugs Department (MEDD), paediatric cases had increased to 41,802 until September 15, from 23,005 on August 15. Similarly, there were 1.20 lakh cases in the 31-40 years group, which increased to 2.29 lakh in the same period, a more than 91 per cent rise in numbers, while among those aged 61-80, the numbers increased to 1,81,397, from 92,854 in the same period.
According to a senior paediatrician at a state-run hospital, the rise in cases among children is due to aggressive testing and also due to contact with the working members of their family. Children are also carriers of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, he said. Earlier, cases were increasing in Mumbai and medical officers in rural areas of Maharashtra thought their area was safe. But now, its vice-versa, as most cases in these age groups are from Dhule, Akola, and other parts of the state, he said. Children can carry viruses for 6-7 days and most of them are asymptomatic. When they come in contact with the elderly, it is likely the latter will be contracting infection, he added.
One of the Covid-19 taskforce members said, in metros such as Mumbai and Pune, the incidence of lifestyle diseases such as hypertension and diabetes is higher, which makes the population more vulnerable to Covid-19. There is a higher prevalence of hypertension and diabetes in Mumbai, and combined with stress, people are more susceptible.
“Cities like Mumbai have a huge working population, that was out and about, working during the lockdown. This could be one of the reasons for their higher share in the total infections,” he said. Dr Lancelot Pinto, Consultant Pulmonologist, P D Hinduja Hospital & MRC, said people do seem to be letting their guard down as time goes by and in relatively crowded places this is becoming a common sight.
Even when people have masks on, these are worn halfheartedly, with often only the mouth, and not the nose covered, or often worn as a tokenism, on the chin. “A rise in infections is unavoidable in such circumstances. There is a suggestion that if masks are worn properly, the infections that do occur tend to be of a milder nature, and this might be the reason why the number of deaths hasn't risen to the same extent as the number of infections,” he said