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Thursday, February 25, 2021

No lockdown plan in Mumbai for now; testing, masks focus: BMC

Mumbai recorded 897 new Covid cases on Saturday taking total count to 20.93 lakh.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: February 21, 2021 7:42:35 pm
Surge in Covid cases: Centre writes to five states, Uddhav warns second wave at doorA special squad of the BMC fine people who without masks inside Railway Compartments at CSMT station, Mumbai on Saturday. (Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has no plans for a lockdown in Mumbai for now and will instead focus on two interventions—increased testing and treatment, and strict implementation of face masks in public places—a top official said Saturday.

Mumbai recorded 897 new Covid cases on Saturday, taking the total count to 20.93 lakh. Fatality due to Covid-19, however, remained constant at 3 on Saturday. Deaths may rise in the coming days given the spike in cases, say doctors.

“Lockdown is not an option in Mumbai. But we are preparing for the worst. I have instructed all jumbo facilities to inspect ventilators, para-monitors, housekeeping, medicines, supplies, oxygen, fire equipment and security so that when patients increase they are prepared to start admitting at once,” Additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani on Saturday said.

Swab collection and covid-19 testing underway at a bus stand thane on Saturday.
(Express photo by Deepak Joshi)

Mumbai has 11,968 isolation beds, of them close to 9,000 are vacant across government and private hospitals. In addition, NESCO jumbo facility has 3,000 beds ready, of them till now only 1,700 have been activated; in BKC jumbo facility an extra 700 beds are ready and can be activated at a short notice.

Private hospitals contribute 2,523 beds and only 779 are presently filled with Covid-19 patients. “We were earlier planning to allow private hospitals to reduce their isolation beds, but with rise in cases that relaxation is on hold for now. The 80:20 ratio continues for now,” Kakani said. Of the isolation beds reserved in each private hospital, 80 per cent Covid patients are charged on government rates and rest 20 per cent as per hospital rates.

In Bombay hospital, consultant Dr Gautam Bhansali said they have 100 beds reserved for Covid-19 patients. “Private hospitals are willing to increase beds if required. All are complying with 80:20 ratio for charging patients. In Bombay hospital, 100 per cent isolation beds are charged at government rates,” he said. Bhansali, however, added that there is a need to speed up vaccination to cover a large population quickly and immunise them.

Across Maharashtra, 6,281 new cases were recorded, double of daily cases in January. In a worrying trend, Amravati exceeded Mumbai on Saturday and recorded 1,055 new cases. Nagpur recorded 717 cases and Akola 348 cases.

As Covid-19 cases rise, Mumbai is focussing on containment zones and implementation of face masks. (Express Photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)

Dr Subhash Salunkhe, advisor to state on Covid-19, said he has noticed a sudden surge in Amravati and Akola in last few days and said inter-district travel could lead to spike all over the state. “The trend indicates intense transmission in both urban and rural areas. There is an acute need expressed by doctors and common citizens who are above 50 and have co-morbidities for access to the vaccine. It is beyond comprehension why vaccine, which is first step to primary prevention and is available, is denied because MoHFW is failing to develop appropriate IT platform or its application,” Salunkhe said, speaking about the glitches with Co-WIN app that has slowed down vaccination.

Meanwhile while several districts in Vidarbha have adopted minor lockdowns and market restrictions to control the surge in coronavirus, Mumbai is focussing on containment zones and implementation of face masks. On Friday BMC penalised 13,592 people for not wearing masks in public places, and collected fine up to Rs 27.18 lakh. Officials with solid waste management department have been directed to increase scrutiny and ensure people comply with face mask rule. In trains and local stations a squad of 300 officials has been formed to check for commuter compliance.

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