People wait to give their samples to medical staff at a slum area during lockdown to control the spread of the new coronavirus in Mumbai.(AP)
With 150 new cases, the Covid-19 tally in Maharashtra on Tuesday crossed the 1,000-mark to reach 1,018, the highest for any state. This was the steepest one-day rise in the number of cases in Maharashtra and came on a day when Maharashtra recorded 12 Covid-19 related deaths and took the state’s death toll from the pandemic to 64, state health department officials said.
Of the 150, 116 new cases in Maharashtra were reported from Mumbai, which accounts now for 642, the highest among Indian cities. Also on Tuesday, Mumbai reported 100 new cases and five deaths, taking the total number of infections in the city to 590 and deaths to 40. Mumbai has over 60% of the total positive cases in Maharashtra. Two high risk areas in Mumbai have been identified as Dharavi, and the Worli Koliwada area.
To break the chain of the coronavirus transmission, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday barred the sale of vegetables and fruits on footpaths and on open markets in the 241 containment zones of Mumbai. Out of the 100 patients who tested positive in Mumbai on Tuesday, 55 people were among the contacts in high risk containment areas. Pune recorded 18 cases on Tuesday, while Nagpur, Aurangabad, and Ahmednagar reported two each. Six of the 12 deaths on Tuesday were reported from Mumbai, followed by three in Pune and one each in Nagpur, Thane and Satara.
According to the state health department, 34,695 people have been put under home while 4,008 under institutional quarantine. It added 20,877 tests (5,564 of them in private laboratories) have been carried out so far across the state, resulting in 1,018 positive cases. Seventy-nine Covid-19 patients have been discharged after their complete recovery, officials said.
The rise in the cases necessitated a state cabinet meeting on Tuesday via video conferencing as some of the ministers were in their constituencies. Officials said the ministers pressed for additional testing facilities to understand the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19.
“The government is likely to seek permission for more labs for testing,” an official said on condition of anonymity.
A private laboratory can start testing only if it is certified by the Indian Council for Medical Research. In March, Maharashtra had applied for and received permission to set up at least seven new private laboratories in addition to the National Institute of Virology in Pune and Kasturba Hospital Lab in Mumbai. “We have increased the number to more than 1,500 tests per day,” said another official, who did not wish to be named.
He added the cabinet also discussed continuing the three-week lockdown imposed to check the Covid-19 spread beyond April 15. “The decision on extending the lockdown is awaited,” a state minister said on condition of anonymity.
“We have screened nearly 1.5 million people, conducted around 10,500 tests. This is why the numbers are high,” a BMC official said, requesting anonymity.
“Out of the six deceased , four had pre-existing respiratory illnesses, hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney diseases and other comorbidities,” a health officer said requesting anonymity. “ None of the deceased had a history of international travel.” According to the state Medical Education and Drugs Department data, Maharashtra’s mortality rate is 5.99%, which is higher than 3.4% globally.
An official said the cabinet also discussed how Kerala managed to keep its mortality rate low — around 0.7%. Kerala had 336 Covid-19 cases until Tuesday but has reported only two deaths.