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With 55% Covid positivity rate, Vasai Virar one of worst-hit areas in Mumbai Metropolitan Region

The area’s problems have further been exacerbated by an acute shortage of beds for the treatment of patients.

Written by Laxman Singh | Mumbai |
Updated: May 7, 2021 4:14:01 am
BKC Jumbo Covid-19 centre: Patient’s body handed over to wrong family, crematedCrowd gathered at the BKC Covid centre in Mumbai. (Express Photo Pradip Das)

With 55 per cent positivity rate for Covid-19 in April, the Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation (VVMC) has emerged as one of the worst-hit Municipal Corporations, of all the nine civic bodies, in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). The area’s problems have further been exacerbated by an acute shortage of beds for the treatment of patients.

The high positivity rate is despite testing figures being low in the region, which is home to more than 25 lakh residents. As compared to Mumbai, which collected about 30,000 samples daily last month, only about 1,000 to 1,500 tests were conducted per day in Vasai Virar during the same period.

In all, 36,500 tests were conducted under VVMC jurisdiction in April; of these over 20,000 have tested positive. At 55 per cent, the positivity rate in much higher than any other MMR city, including Mumbai, where the positivity rate oscillated between 15 and 20 per cent last month. On April 19, the positivity rate in VVMC went as high as 68 per cent.

The rise has been swift for a city which had only around 520 active cases in mid-March. As the second wave gripped the region, much like the rest of the country, the active case load crossed the 10,000-mark here.

On Thursday, VVMC recorded 769 new cases, taking its total case tally to 57,903. With 12 new deaths, the total toll due to Covid-19 in the area now is 914. As of May 6, there were 11,296 active cases in VVMC area.

Former mayor and Bahujan Vikas Aghadi leader Rajiv Patil said that the corporation should increase contact tracing and improve its testing numbers. “Contact tracing here is far below the standard set by the health ministry. The corporation should actively trace the contacts of positive patients, as they are potential carriers of the virus, and keep them in isolation centres. The situation is not improving since the administration has failed to follow the guidelines,” said Patil.

According to sources, the corporation is tracing only about one or two contacts of every patient as against the Union Health Ministry guidelines, which stipulate tracing of 30 contacts.

Patil said that testing should be increased to understand the exact scale of infection in the city. According to data, since the time of the outbreak of the virus in March last year, 2.63 lakh tests have been done under VVMC. Of these, 55,389 tested positive.

The region has also been found wanting in treatment of Covid positive patients with many citizens complaining about a shortage of ICU and ventilator beds. Data from VVMC shows that as on May 6, only two ICU beds and seven ventilators were available.

Former mayor Praveen Shetty said that there is a problem of oxygen and bed availability in the city. “Daily, we get so many calls from citizens seeking help to find a bed. For an oxygen bed, there is a waiting time of up to two days. Every hour is important for Covid-19 patients. If they are struggling for oxygen and treatment for hours, then the condition of the patient is going to deteriorate and eventually they could lose their life.”

He said, “In many cases, patients have to run to several hospitals to get a bed.”

VVMC’s current oxygen requirement is 25 metric tonne but it gets only 16 metric tonne from the state government.

Local activist Milind Chavan said despite there being a severe shortage of beds, the corporation has failed to enhance the capacity of Covid treatment facilities. “Many people lost their lives due to delay in getting beds. No beds were added in anticipation of the second wave. The corporation is also dragging its feet on installation of oxygen plants,” said Chavan.

VVMC municipal commissioner Gangatharan D and Health Officer Dr Juilee Vanmali were not available for comment.

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