Maharashtra has witnessed a surge of COVID-19 cases in the month of February, but the surge is not limited to big cities like Mumbai, Pune and Nashik. In some districts like Amravati, Vidarbha, cases have doubled or tripled in a weeks time. How concerned should we be? Is the virus spreading in these areas more transmissible? And what explains the high positivity rate in certain districts? The Quint speaks with Dr Subhash Salunkhe, technical advisor, COVID-19 to the Government of Maharashtra.
Dr Salunkhe has spent the last week travelling across the most affected areas. Upon being asked about the unusual trends seen during his travel, Dr Salunkhe points out the nearly 50% positivity rate in Amravati and warns of higher transmission rate. He also points out the urban-rural divide, how cases in non-urban centers are at a rise and how this should be considered a warning for other states in the country. On a more positive note, the fatality rate remains as is, so even if transmission is high, it is not necessarily leading to more severe disease.
Upon being asked about new variants, or new mutations emerging in this region, Dr Salunkhe says genomic sequencing has been stepped up and each district is sending 100 samples to the labs for sequencing. They hope to have a better picture in the coming days.
Dr Salunkhe expressing his dismay at the pace of vaccination and the need to speed up - warning we may have a small window to vaccinate a large number of people.
On a possible lockdown, he says it 'depends upon us.' If we don't follow COVID-appropriate behaviour, we'll be inviting more restrictions and possibly, a lockdown. The recent marriage season, changes in weather and variations in virus behaviour have all led to the rise in cases.
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