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Covid-19 cases rise in parts of MMR; testing to increase to detect more patients

Overall the low caseload in MMR, except Mumbai, could be due to low testing numbers or poor contact tracing. Corporations in MMR have been directed to increase overall RT-PCR tests to catch and isolate more cases.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai |
February 25, 2021 12:33:13 am
pune covid, pcmc, pcmc covid, pcmc covid cases, pcmc covid news, indian express newsKerala reported 3,671 cases on Friday while Punjab, with 622 cases, contributed the third highest number of cases in the country. (Representational)

Several parts of Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) still remain unaffected by the surge in coronavirus infection. Following Mumbai, cases in Thane corporation, Kalyan Dombivali, Navi Mumbai and Panvel corporation have increased, but no worrying spike is noticeable yet in Bhiwandi, Mira Bhayander, Vasai-Virar or Ulhasnagar corporations.

Maharashtra on Wednesday recorded 80 deaths due to Covid-19, taking the total toll to 51,937. Health officials said 27 of these deaths occurred in the last 48 hours, and 22 others succumbed to the infection in the last one week. “The remaining 31 deaths are from a period before that,” said the official. The death toll on Wednesday is the highest single-day toll reported this year.

Overall the low caseload in MMR, except Mumbai, could be due to low testing numbers or poor contact tracing. Corporations in MMR have been directed to increase overall RT-PCR tests to catch and isolate more cases. “There are multiple factors behind why entire MMR has not shown a surge yet. A significant population could already be exposed to the virus. Or testing and tracing is poor and therefore not many cases are coming out,” said Dr Subash Salunkhe, technical advisor on Covid-19 to the Maharashtra government.

Divisional Commissioner of Konkan region, Annasaheb Misal, said he has issued instructions to collectors and commissioners to increase testing numbers. “Even the four corporations where cases rose show a declining trend this week. Last week, there was a slight rise in Kalyan, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Panvel. But this week, we are again seeing a fall,” Misal told The Indian Express. He added that once testing, tracing and treatment is strengthened, they will have to monitor these corporations closely to draw a definitive trend.

The entire Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is connected by the Mumbai local train network that reopened for the general public from February 1. Local trains record a passenger footfall of over 35 lakh per day. This is one reason attributed to the latest surge in Covid-19 cases, with Mumbai seeing its daily cases double compared to last month.

Thane Municipal corporation recorded 50-80 Covid-19 cases daily in the first week of February, which rose to 130-160 cases by this week, Navi Mumbai has jumped from 70-90 cases to over 100 cases in same period, Kalyan-Dombivali noted a spike from 70-80 to 110-130 cases a day and Panvel Corporation rose from 20 to 40-50 cases. Bulk of residents in these regions work in Mumbai. But the rise, district officials say, is still lower than the spike expected.

Dr Rajendra Gavit, civil surgeon in Palghar, said cases are slowly rising in Vasai-Virar and Mira Bhayander belt, but the rise is very slow. “Cases are rising here, but not as much as we expected,” he said.

In Bhiwandi-Nizampur, there are fewer than 10 Covid-19 cases daily, 15-20 new cases in Ulhasnagar, 20-30 in Vasai-Virar and 50-60 new cases daily in Mira Bhayander this month. In contrast, Mumbai is recording over 900 cases, up from 400 until last month.

In Mira Bhayander, Deputy Municipal Commissioner Sambhaji Waghmare said the corporation has noted a small spike in cases since last wee, but they will have to increase tests to gauge if positivity rate is rising. “Daily testing numbers had fallen to 500 in January because our overall cases were reducing. This month, tests have increased to 700-800. We plan to further increase them to 1,000,” he said.

In Panvel corporation, 400-440 tests are carried out every day, of them over 20 per cent tst positive, a positivity rate higher than state’s average at 14.5 per cent. “Contact tracing needs to be strengthened to find more high-risk contacts. Currently, mostly symptomatic patients are being tested,” said Dr Anand Gosavi, medical officer in Panvel corporation.

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