AS SEVERAL parts of Mumbai witnessed a surge in the coronavirus cases over the last one month, the city’s average growth and doubling rates — indicative factors of the extent of the spread of the infection — have seen a sharp increase and a dip, respectively. On Sunday, the city recorded 2,085 new cases, taking its total count to 1,69,741. It has seen 8,150 fatalities due to the disease.
While the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has maintained that ramped up testing is the primary reason for the spike, a gradual relaxation of lockdown norms and recent festivals, like the Ganesh festival, too, have added to the numbers. The civic body, however, has denied it could be a ‘second wave’ of the disease.
According to the civic body’s data, on August 19, the average growth rate of Covid-19 cases in the city stood at 0.78 per cent and the average doubling rate at 90 days. On September 11, the data states, the average growth rate of the virus case in the city was 1.21 per cent, with 18 of the 24 civic administrative wards recording an average of more than 1 per cent. In contrast, the virus doubling rate has dropped significantly to 58 days.
In areas like Goregaon, Borivali, Mulund, Kandivali, Dahisar, and Malabar Hill, which have witnessed a surge in virus cases, the average growth rate is above 1.50 per cent. P South ward (Goregaon) has recorded the highest spike with 1.65 per cent growth rate, followed by R Central ward (Borivali) with 1.62 per cent and T ward (Mulund) with 1.54 per cent.
On Sunday, Shiv Sena’s corporator from Goregaon, Swapnil Tembwalkar, said there was a surge in Covid-19 cases since industries in the area resumed operations. “We have organised several Covid-19 testing camps at the industrial pockets in Goregaon. After relaxation in lockdown norms, more people are going out for work, which is leading to the spread of the virus,” Tembwalkar said.
Sena corporator from Borivali, Riddhi Khursunge, meanwhile said Covid-19 cases increased after the Ganeshotsav. “We organised camps in many housing societies, but the response was lukewarm. People’s response is key to beat the virus,” Khursunge said.
So far, nine lakh Covid-19 tests — rapid antigen testing kits and RT-PCR — have been conducted across the city, civic officials said. Liberal testing norms and a reduction in charges, officials added, have led to more people getting tested. Until July, the city on an average conducted around 6,500 tests daily. Now, it is testing more than 11,000 persons each day.
While acknowledging that there has been an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases, Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said the virus positivity rate had dropped over the last few weeks. “Along with an increase in testing, there has been a gradual relaxation in lockdown norms and the Ganpati festival that saw a lot of crowding. These factors together are the reasons for a spike in cases. But the positivity rate has gone down to 17 per cent. We are testing more than 15,000 people daily,’’ he said. In July, positivity rate was 21.68 per cent.
Kakani denied it was the second wave of the pandemic. “It is not the second wave. If we would have got spike from areas that were hotspots, then it could have been so, but this is not the case,” he said.
Meanwhile, Congress corporator from Malabar Hill, Rajendra Narwankar, claimed there was a lack of coordination among the public representatives and the administration. “In many cases, the testing camps organised by the BMC are far from the areas that actually require attention. The BMC needs to have better coordination with corporators. Also, the lack of awareness among citizens is another reason for the spread of the virus. People are roaming out in public places and travelling in public transport without wearing masks. Social distancing is not being followed.’’
In Mulund, BJP corporator Prakash Gangadhare said, the cases were rising as more people were going out or job or in search of one. “People are jobless and don’t have money to survive. It is forcing them to go out. How can a person sit at home if he does not have food? If more
people come out on the roads then the virus will spread,” Gangadhare said.
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