Updated: April 2, 2021 7:34:22 am
On a day when Mumbai reported 8,646 Covid-19 cases — the highest daily count since the outbreak of the pandemic — mayor Kishori Pednekar indicated that stricter containment measures could be implemented, including limiting travel in local trains and shutting down religious places, malls and theatres.
“The government is planning strict measures to control the spread of the virus, since there is so much rush in markets and people are not following social distancing. Taking note of this, authorities are also considering allowing shops to be kept open on alternate days. Mumbai is in the danger zone in terms of Covid cases,” said Pednekar, speaking to reporters at BMC headquarters on Thursday. These new restrictions could be imposed from Friday, she added.
The mayor also indicated that train travel could be restricted in the coming days. “Currently, common citizens are allowed to travel in local trains with restricted timings. But now the government has planned to allow travel for only essential service workers, like it was earlier during strict lockdown,” she said.
About 33 lakh passengers travel daily on local trains. Currently, the general public is allowed to travel from 12 pm to 4 pm and from 9 pm to the end of the day.
On Thursday, Mumbai reported 8,646 Covid cases, its highest daily case count, and 18 deaths. Mumbai has 55,000 active cases and the daily growth rate has reached 1.39%.
Regarding crowd management at public places like temples, Pednekar said, “At religious places like temples we have seen old and young people visiting frequently, and which is one of the reasons for spread of the virus. There may be a decision to shut down these religious places to curb the crowd.”
For private offices, the civic body will start random checks to ensure attendance does not go beyond 50%. “The action will be intensified to ensure 50% attendance in offices. Also, they will be asked to function in two shifts for less crowding,” Pednekar said.
Shops and markets are posing challenges for the civic body as, despite appeals and restrictions, crowds swell up in these places, and they will be allowed to be open on alternate days. “Since there are large gatherings at these places, shops may be asked to open every alternate day, or odd and even the system can be considered, “she said.
Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal had also said that the total daily Covid-19 cases could go up to 10,000. However, with existing SOPs and norms, lockdown is less likely to be imposed.
Earlier, the state government imposed night curfew in the city, restricting public gatherings on March 28. Between 8 pm and 7 am, gatherings of more than five people are not allowed. Also, to curb crowds at public places, malls, theatres, hotels, beaches will be shut during the night curfew.
Pednekar said that a review of the availability of beds was done on March 31 and it was found that a total of 3,933 beds are available. Of these, 324 ICU beds, 170 ventilator beds and 2,219 oxygen beds are vacant.
“We are increasing the number of beds from 16,000 to 25,000. Even if later these hospital beds remain empty, we will make all efforts to ensure that the city does not face a shortage of beds. Infection rate is lower in slums and chawls, but we need to prepare ourselves for worse,” Pednekar said. She added that Mumbai is witnessing 5,000-6,000 cases daily and strict steps are required to break the infection growth rate. More cases are coming from high rise buildings.
Earlier, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had warned that lockdown could be imposed considering the surge in cases.
The total number of Covid cases in Mumbai is 4,23,360, of which 55,005 are active cases. Of the total active cases, nearly 80 per cent are asymptomatic. Active cases in the city have risen by 24,245 in the last seven days.
An official said that increased testing through the city is the reason behind the rise in daily cases. In the last 24 hours, 46,758 were conducted, as opposed to an average of 20,000 daily till last month.
On Thursday, 18 deaths due to Covid-19 were recorded. Of them, 15 patients were above 60 years. The recovery rate also dropped to 84 per cent on Thursday, as against 90 per cent till last week.
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