AMID THE ongoing third wave, driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said on Tuesday that Mumbai had moved past the peak and the daily Covid-19 case count was expected to fall further over the coming days. “We are planning to re-open schools on January 27,” he said.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Chahal said the third wave peaked around January 10. Over the last week, the city has reported a sharp fall in daily cases. “We expect the numbers to come down to levels of 1,000-2,000 by January 26, and we are now planning to re-open schools by January 27,” said Chahal.
Mumbai reported its highest single-day spike of 20,971 cases at 28.9 per cent positivity rate on January 7, past its second wave peak of 11,573 cases at 23 per cent positivity on April 3 last year. However, the number of deaths and patients needing hospitalisation was considerably lower this time.
Over the last week, the city’s daily case count has seen a steady fall. It dipped to 10,661 on Saturday; 7,895 on Sunday; and 5,956 on Monday. On Tuesday, 6,149 new cases were reported. The positivity rate has also fallen from a peak of 29.9 per cent on January 6 to 12.9 per cent on Tuesday.
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While Mumbai has seen the sharpest decline, it is not alone. A similar trend is visible in a few other cities as well, most notably in Delhi and Kolkata. These cities were the first ones to show a steep rise in cases during the third wave and are seemingly on a downward curve now.
Just six days ago, Delhi had recorded a new all-time peak, detecting 28,867 cases. It has seen a steady and fast decline after that. The capital reported 11,684 cases on Tuesday.
In Kolkata, the case count rose to more than double of its second wave peak — 8,712 cases on January 9 compared to 3,990 on May 23 last year. But it dropped quickly after that, and on Tuesday, the city reported only 2,205 cases.
Chennai is also showing distinct signs of a slowdown, though the cases have not begun to decline. The city has been reporting between 8,000 and 9,000 cases for six days now.
But there are also cities like Bengaluru and Pune that are seeing rapid rise in numbers. Bengaluru reported 25,595 cases on Tuesday, the highest so far in the third wave, and only marginally below its all-time peak of 26,756 recorded on April 30 last year. Similarly, Pune also reported the highest number of cases in this wave on Tuesday — its 11,784 cases on Tuesday is below the second wave peak of 12,825 cases.
Though the daily case count in Mumbai has fallen, critics have pointed out that testing has declined over the last 10 days. From 72,442 samples on January 7, testing was down to 47,700 on Tuesday.
However, Chahal said that tests are being conducted as per demand. “We are conducting tests for all the people coming for tests and that number itself has gone down,” he said.
Another senior official said only around 15 per cent of the beds at BMC-run hospitals and jumbo Covid facilities were currently occupied.
While saying that the BMC was prepared to handle around 40,000-50,000 cases per day, Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said he was relieved that the daily count and positivity rate were showing a sharp fall over the last few days.
Kakani too was confident that the third wave was under control now, but cautioned that people should not lower their guard. “People need to continue wearing masks and follow Covid appropriate behaviour at all times,” he said.
Schools in Maharashtra began offline classes for all grades from December 15 last year. Most schools began their Christmas vacation from December 23 and were set to resume classes on January 3. But, amid the rising cases, BMC asked all schools to return to online mode till January 31. On January 8, as the state government announced new restrictions, all schools were told not to hold offline classes till February 15.
(With Amitabh Sinha in Pune)
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