January 18, 2022 9:33:54 pm
While the Covid wave in Mumbai is flattening, other districts are now emerging as areas of concern, such as Nashik, which has a 35.4 per cent seven-day positivity rate — the highest in Maharashtra. As on January 17, of the 36 districts in Maharashtra, 23 districts including Nashik have recorded a seven-day positivity rate above 10 per cent.
The daily count began plateauing in Mumbai on January 12. With this, public health experts assumed that the state’s tally would also drop, but the more transmissible third wave has already spread to other major cities and neighbouring rural districts.
In the first week of January, Mumbai recorded a seven-day positivity rate of 23.8 per cent—the highest in Maharashtra. Between January 11 and 17, it has dropped to 21.8 per cent. But the state’s seven-day positivity rate increased from 16.3 per cent to 22.9 per cent in the same period.
As per the latest report, six districts—Pune (34.2 per cent ), Thane (29.4 per cent), Akola (27.7 per cent ), Nashik (35.4 per cent ), Raigad (28.3 per cent ) and Nanded (24.1 per cent) recorded a seven-day positivity rate higher than Mumbai.
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These districts witnessed a sharp surge in positivity rate compared to the first week of January. As per the state’s data, the seven-day positivity rate in the first week of January in Pune was 13 per cent, Thane had 20.6 per cent, Akola 7.1 per cent, Nashik 11.1 per cent, Raigad 17.9 per cent and Nanded 3.4 per cent.
Nashik district collector Suraj Mandhare said the district might see more stringent curbs. There has been a nearly ten-fold rise in cases in Malegaon from 18 to 203 in the last ten days. “Over 90 per cent of the patients are asymptomatic. Only 12 of them are on ventilator,” he said.
“As seen globally, the virus due to high transmissibility will double the daily cases in other districts but as witnessed in Mumbai so far, it will also drop sharply and quicker than in the first two waves,” said Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer. Anticipating the rise in cases, the state has kept four lakh beds ready to attend to patients.
Data accessed by The Indian Express shows that due to the rising infection rate in rural areas, the seven-day positivity rate in Nandurbar (17 per cent), Latur (18.7 per cent), Sangli (19.8 per cent) and Satara (19.7 per cent), among others, has increased to over 15 per cent, from 5-7 per cent in the first week of January.
“A large number of healthcare workers have been contracting Covid-19, which is further putting pressure on staffers,” said Dr Mahendra Chavan, district health officer, Nandurbar.
Of the 4,201 samples sequenced recently, Omicron was detected in 1,367 cases or only in 32 per cent cases while in 68 per cent samples, Delta variant of Covid was identified. Medical experts believe that due to high vaccination coverage in cities, most of the patients are mildly symptomatic.
But the virus may behave differently in rural districts, which are still lagging behind in vaccination. “There is a need to urgently increase vaccination in these districts. Otherwise the severity of infection may increase among partially or unvaccinated people,” said Dr Subhas Salunke, member of the Covid-19 task force.
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