Looking at Options Other than Lockdown to Restrict Covid-19 Cases in Mumbai, Says BMC

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Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kankani on Monday said that the civic body was following all measures to check the spread of Covid-19 other than placing the city under lockdown.

He further stated that the BMC was carrying out raids at wedding venues and night clubs where Covid-19 norms may be flouted. The municipal body was also sealing buildings as part of measures to check the spread of Covid-19, he said.

Kakani said that the civic body had activated all medical facilities. "...As of today we have 14,000 beds available of which 25% are occupied," he said.

"We are targeting preventive measures like making sure the social behaviour is followed like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing...fine collection is not the objective but it’s making sure people follow social behaviour," he added.

As many as 82 percent of the total patients in the city were asymptomatic and only 18 percent required treatment, he added. "We have taken all stake holders onboard. We have asked societies to come onboard and ensure Covid appropriate behaviour is followed by visitors and members. Common areas should be sanitized," he said.

Amid a spike in coronavirus infection in parts of Maharashtra, Mumbai has witnessed 36.38 per cent rise in the active Covid-19 cases since February 8, as per the city civic body. Careless attitude of citizens, allowing the general public to travel in local trains and opening of various other commercial activities were among reasons behind the current surge in Covid-19 cases here, civic officials said.

The country's financial capital reported 5,335 active Covid-19 cases on February 8, and the number went up to 7,276 on Sunday, according to BMC data. Notably, on February 8, the city had recorded its lowest average growth rate of Covid-19 cases at 0.12 per cent and the highest average doubling rate of 574 days, as per the statistics.

At present, Mumbai's average growth rate of Covid-19 cases is 0.20 per cent and the average doubling rate is 346 days, according to the data. Though the daily Covid-19 cases have been rising in the city, the number of fatalities remained low, around three to five every day, as per the data.

According to BMC officials, the surge in daily cases started in the second week of February. On Sunday, Mumbai reported over 900 Covid-19 cases, as compared to less than 500 daily cases in the first week of February.

Civic officials said there are various reasons for the rise in cases, like careless attitude of people towards COVID-19 protocols, allowing the general public to travel in local trains, opening of malls, offices, hotels and restaurants. Kakani had said as restrictions were eased, crowds were witnessed at various marriage functions, other social events, and in malls, restaurants, pubs and clubs.

The number of passengers in local trains also increased from eight lakh (in January-end) to 22 lakh (after all members of the public were allowed in February), he said. "Many people are behaving as if the COVID-19 threat is not there. They are not following protocols at public places," Kakani said.

According to the BMC, it has already increased daily Covid-19 tests from around 15,000 earlier this month to over 22,000 now. "Among the positive cases, the number of asymptomatic persons is more," Kakani said.

The civic body is also trying to find out if the virus has mutated. Kakani said they have already sent 90 samples to the Pune-based National Institute of Virology to check for any mutation of the virus.

It takes 10 to 15 days to get the report from the institute, he said. Since last week, the BMC has intensified action against those found without masks in public places, and started a crackdown on establishments like marriage halls, hotels and restaurants which are found violating the COVID-19 norms.

The civic body has also filed police complaints against some establishments in the last few days, officials said.