Maharashtra Social Justice Minister Dhananjay Munde tested positive for coronavirus Friday as the state breached the one lakh-mark – the only state in India to do so – for Covid-19 infections, 95 days after it registered its first case on March 9. On Friday, 3,493 new cases and 127 deaths were recorded across the state.
With a total of 1,01,141 cases and 3,717 deaths, Maharashtra contributes one-third of the total virus load in India. With 1,366 new cases,
Mumbai now has a total of 55,451 cases. The city’s toll, meanwhile, touched 2,044 on Friday as 90 more succumbed to the infection.
While Maharashtra has reported the fastest growth rate of Covid-19 cases in India, it has performed better than Spain, Italy and the UK. Officials have attributed the delay to an early lockdown since March when the state had cases in two digits.
According to data aggregator Worldometers, compared to Maharashtra that recorded one lakh cases in 95 days, New York took 22 days to jump from 348cases on March 12 to 1.05 lakh on April 3. While the UK took 60 days, Spain and Italy took less than 63 days to breach it.
Health officials, however, expressed worry over the state’s death rate. At 3.6 per cent, the fatality rate in Maharashtra remains higher than the national average of 2.86 per cent. The state government data, till June 11, showed most of the virus-afflicted patients – 18,857 people — were in the age group of 31-40 years, followed by 17,890 who are aged 21-30 years. Fatality, however, is lower in these age groups as compared to those aged above 60 years. A total of 15,003 senior citizens have contracted the infection in Maharashtra.
Data analysed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation until May 25 showed that 8.1 per cent of those aged above 60 years and 0.5 per cent of those aged less than 40 have died in Mumbai.
On Friday, 90 of the total 127 deaths were reported in Mumbai alone, followed by Pune (12), Thane (11), Kalyan Dombivali (3), Sangli (3), Nashik (2), Aurangabad (2), and one each in Mira Bhayander, Vasai-Virar, Dhule, and Amravati.
The state has over 3,000 containment zones. State Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the containment zone tag is removed if no case were reported from the area in 28 days.
He added that Munde, who was asymptomatic but suffered from slight breathlessness, had been admitted to Breach Candy hospital in Mumbai on Friday. “He is a fighter and we expect him to recover within a week. Even in our Cabinet meetings, ministers sit at a distance and wear masks. Since those precautions were followed, we are not worried about cross infection to other ministers,” Tope added.
The NCP leader had attended a state Cabinet meeting earlier this week and taken part in the party’s foundation day event two days ago. He is the third state minister to have contracted the virus. Jitendra Awhad (NCP) and Ashok Chavan (Congress), who had tested positive earlier, have both recovered.
While guidelines laid down by the state mandate hospitalisation for only moderately to severely ill patients in order to ensure beds are available for critical patients, Munde was hospitalised as a precaution, senior officials said, adding he was mildly symptomatic. Breach Candy officials refused to comment on his condition.
Munde’s driver, cook and personal assistant have also tested positive for the virus. Sources said that senior officials from Munde’s department have also been put under home quarantine
In Mumbai, meanwhile, patients continued to struggle for beds. “Mumbai has now become more critical than New York. It’s been more than 2 hours, did not receive ventilator in a city like Mumbai,” tweeted Dhara Shah on Wednesday, tagging Tope and Environment Minister Aaditya Thackeray.
Shah reportedly searched for a ventilator in multiple hospitals and made repeated calls to 1916, but got no help, following which his grandmother, Pravina Shah (68), died early Thursday due to Covid-19. The hospital she was rushed to, Trident hospital, said she died for want of ventilator support.
In a video-conference Thursday, Tope had told Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan that the focus was on Mumbai. “It is the financial capital and the cases are rising… We have been following all ICMR guidelines when it comes to testing and discharge,” Tope said.
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