After a brief spike in Maharashtra’s coronavirus active cases in the last week of November following Diwali celebrations, the total active cases in the state have dipped by nearly 38 per cent since the beginning of December, from 89,098 cases to 54,891 cases, in the 25 days of the month.
State health officials believe that in view of a night curfew and the enforcement of stringent closing timings for restaurants and bars for the upcoming 10 days, subdued Christmas and New Year celebrations may not lead to a significant spike in cases in a manner that Diwali festivities had. Since March, Maharashtra has recorded two significant spikes, both following festivals – Ganpati Visarjan celebrations in September and Diwali in November.
Post Diwali, the state’s active caseload rose from 84,082 to 90,557 within a fortnight as of November 30. Despite the rise in cases, the severity of infection has remained low, according to state epidemiologist Dr Pradeep Awate. “After the initial rise in cases during Diwali, we are noticing a gradual decline in active cases across the state. We are cautious about the new variant of Covid-19 strain in the UK. If the strain comes here, we may have to strengthen surveillance and quarantine all contacts to limit its spread. Screening of passengers has already begun,” Awate added.
Maharashtra has touched 19.09 lakh Covid-19 cases till date. As it continues to report between 3,000 and 5,000 new cases on a daily basis, the caseload is set to cross the 20 lakh mark soon. The state is also inching closer to a death toll of 50,000; 49,058 deaths have been recorded due to the virus so far.
In Mumbai, the active caseload has dipped from 15,078 cases to 8,000 cases. Pune, too, has shown a decline from over 20,000 cases to 13,639 cases, while Thane’s caseload has come down from 15,776 cases to below 10,000. Only a few districts have shown a rise in active cases. However, Sindhudurg, Sangli, Kolhapur, Nashik, Dhule, Buldhana, and Nagpur have shown a spike in their respective active caseloads this month.
The spike in Nashik and Nagpur has left health officials worried. Dr Narendra Bahirwar, medical officer at the Nagpur Municipal Corporation, said all passengers who have returned from the UK and Middle East over the past month are being closely monitored so as to detect a new mutation in the virus called B.1.1.7 lineage.
The Nagpur civic body had sent samples of a 28-year-old man, who had returned from the UK on November 29 and tested positive for Covid-19, for genome sequencing. “But his latest swab tested negative for the virus, so genome sequencing could not be done. Now, his family member has tested positive and we have sent their sample for sequencing,” Bahirwar said. The samples will be sent to the National Institute of Virology for genome breakup.
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