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Maharashtra and Mumbai: In rising Covid cases and death counts, some encouraging trends

Amid the high numbers, epidemiologists also point to some encouraging recent trends. While the number of cases is rising, the growth rate has slowed. The death rate among the infected too has been declining.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala , Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai | Updated: May 22, 2020 2:55:17 pm
coronavirus cases maharashtra, maharashtra mumbai covid 19 cases, maharashtra coronavirus explained, covid 19 trends, coronavirus explained, explained news, indian express View of APMC vegetable market after it was opened for trading in the wake of Coronavirus pandemic in Navi Mumbai (Express Photo: Narendra Vaskar)

Maharashtra, the state worst hit by Covid-19, accounts for about a third of all cases in India, and two out of every five deaths. Mumbai, in turn, accounts for three out of every five cases in Maharashtra, and also three of every five deaths.

Amid these high numbers, epidemiologists also point to some encouraging recent trends. While the number of cases is rising, the growth rate has slowed. The death rate among the infected too has been declining. And the recovery rate too has encouraged experts.

The trends

As of 5:30 pm on Wednesday, Maharashtra (table below) has had 37,136 cases with 1,325 deaths, out of India’s 1,06,750 cases and 3,303 deaths.

Month Cases Deaths
March 302 10
April 10196 449
May (1-20) 26638 876
Total 37136 1325

Mumbai (table below) had 22,746 cases and 800 deaths.

Month Cases Deaths
March 151 7
April 6910 283
May (1-20) 15685 510
Total 22746 800

Until the first week of May, Mumbai was recording about 500 new cases each day. Last week this rose to a little under 1,000 a day. Now, this is over 1,200 new cases every day. On Tuesday alone, 1,411 fresh Covid-19 cases were recorded.

For both the state and the city, the case and death counts in April were 30 to 50 times the corresponding counts in March. The growth rates between April and the first 20 days of May, however, have been well behind the growth rates between March and April. For example, Mumbai’s monthly death toll rose 40 times from 7 in March to 283 in April, and from April by 1.8 times in the first 20 days of May (see table). Mumbai’s monthly new cases, which rose by 45 times from March to April, have since then risen by a factor of 2.2 until now. While the May counts are for only 20 days, this is still a very wide difference in growth rates of monthly counts.

The takeaways

Take the doubling rate, or time taken for cases to double. “Earlier cases were doubling in three days, then it slowed down to six-seven days, and now Maharashtra has doubling rate of 11.9. This means transmission of the virus is slowing. Mumbai has shown similar trends,” said Dr Pradeep Awate, epidemiologist. On Wednesday, Mumbai’s doubling rate was at 13, better than it has been in the past few days.

The death rate, or deaths as a percentage of the infected pool, has consistently reduced in Maharashtra and Mumbai. Mumbai’s death rate had climbed to over 7% in April. Following measures to ramp up intensive care and oxygen support, with emphasis on immediate symptomatic treatment, the death rate has dropped continuously and is currently at 3.5%.

By Tuesday, 9,639 patients had recovered in Maharashtra (25%), including 6,116 in Mumbai (26.8%). Tuesday recorded the highest number of recoveries, at 1,202 across Maharashtra.

The worries

Even so, the huge numbers are making it difficult to install facilities to treat everyone. Mumbai is adding 1,200-1,400 new cases every day. If we take only Tuesday’s example, for one bed that was vacated (due to death or recovery), two new patients were waiting to take it.

Don’t miss from Explained | Why Mumbai is running out of beds for critical Covid patients

Health officials are worried about how the monsoon will affect the present circulation. “Influenza cases, which rise in monsoon, have affection for lungs. Coronavirus also has an affinity to attack lungs. We don’t know how these viruses will behave together,” said epidemiologist Awate. The other viruses he was referring to are those that cause dengue, malaria and leptospirosis.

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