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Third wave could peak between January 6-13 in Mumbai, says study; government rules out lockdown


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MUMBAI: As coronavirus infections surged in Mumbai, the city could witness a peak between January 6 to 13 and take a month for the cases to see a decline, according to researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).

Sandeep Juneja, senior professor, School of Technology and Computer Science, at the TIFR, said the peak fatalities could be in February, but it is expected to be around 30 to 50 per cent less than what was recorded during the deadly second wave between March to May last year.

The city recorded 10,860 cases, the highest daily count since April 7, 2021, on Tuesday.

"Cases in Mumbai could peak between January 6 to 13 and they are likely to come down to lower levels in around a month. The peak fatalities are expected to be around 30 to 50 per cent less than what was witnessed during the second (delta) wave," Juneja , who is involved in COVID-19 modelling for the city, said.

He, however, did not comment on the number of cases that the city is expected to witness during the peak between January 6 to 13.

Mumbai had recorded 11,206 coronavirus cases on April 4 last year.

On May 1, the city recorded 90 deaths, the highest number of single-day fatalities, due to coronavirus so far.

"The hospitalisation too is also expected to 50-70 per cent less than the second wave," he said.

He said the data has been generated from the preliminary analysis from TIFR's Mumbai AB simulator and the assumptions are based on the South Africa, and United Kingdom data.

Juneja said the key assumptions during the modelling were that 35 per cent of the recovered population is amenable to reinfection to Omicron and the new variant is two times more infectious compared to Delta.

Symptomatic cases are 20 per cent less compared to delta and hospitalisation of symptomatic is 40 per cent less compared to the delta for the suspect population, he added.

For the infected but not vaccinated and amenable to reinfection, this number further reduces by 50 per cent.

For the doubly vaccinated and infected (and amenable to reinfection) the reduction factor is not 50 per cent but 70 per cent, Juneja said.

At least 66 staffers and officials of the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST), which operates a fleet of public buses in Mumbai and extended suburbs, have tested positive for coronavirus in the last few days, an official said on Wednesday.

The COVID-19 cases in Mumbai have gone up significantly over the last week.

The Maharashtra capital had on Tuesday reported 10,860 cases, the second-highest daily count after April 7, 2021.

As per the information shared by the BEST's chief medical officer, 60 per cent of the 60 staff and officials tested positive during screening at BEST depots, a spokesperson said.

The remaining staffers underwent COVID-19 tests in their personal capacity and were found to be infected, he added.

"Although most of the infected staffers have mild symptoms, we have hospitalised 40 of them as a precautionary measure," the official said, adding that nine employees have already been discharged from hospitals.

The overall recovery rate of BEST employees is 96 per cent, he said.

BEST provides public bus services in Mumbai and neighbouring areas and supplies power to around 10 lakh consumers in the city.

With its fleet of more than 3,000 buses, it transports over 30 lakh commuters in Mumbai and neighbouring cities every day.

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said 100 per cent lockdown is not required as of now, but stressed on the need to impose restrictions wherever there is crowding.

Talking to reporters after a meeting with the state's COVID-19 Task Force and officials of the health, planning and finance departments, Tope said the state reported over 16,000 cases on Tuesday, and the number could rise to 25,000 on Wednesday.

He said the silver lining is that 90 per cent of the cases are asymptomatic.

Of the 10 per cent symptomatic patients, only one to two per cent require hospitalisation.

The state has seen a sharp rise in the daily cases since the last two weeks.

"The Task Force has used the term augmented restrictions, which means if the cases rise like this. We don't have to use the term lockdown. Hundred per cent lockdown is not certainly required as of today," the minister said.

He said augmented restrictions means that non-essential activities have to be stopped.

"Wherever crowding takes place, there have to be restrictions, but it is not the case that it (curbs) should be brought today," Tope said.

He said recommendations of the Task Force will be discussed with Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.

The minister strongly emphasised on ramping up the vaccination against COVID-19, and focusing on those who have not taken the jabs and third dose for frontline workers.

As the cases rise, an aggressive focus will also be on information, education and communication activities on the precautions to be taken after testing positive for the coronavirus, he said.

Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar on Tuesday said if the daily COVID-19 cases cross the 20,000-mark, a lockdown will be imposed in the city as per the Union government's rules.

She had also suggested that people wear triple-layer masks while traveling by public buses and local trains.

The mayor had also appealed to citizens to get vaccinated at the earliest and follow all COVID-19-related standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Mumbai reported 10,860 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, up 34.37 per cent from a day ago and highest daily count since April 7, 2021, while two more patients succumbed to the infection, as per the city civic body.

Amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Mumbai civic body has made rapid RT-PCR test mandatory for the passengers coming from at-risk and high-risk countries and the UAE at the international airport here, a senior civic official said on Wednesday.

A day earlier confusion was created due to misinterpretation of revised guidelines by a civic official who had said that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had made rapid RT-PCR test compulsory for all the international passengers landing at the Mumbai airport, sources said.

The guidelines, issued last week, came into effect on Monday.

"All international passengers coming from at-risk and high-risk countries and the UAE will be asked to take a rapid RT-PCR test. If positive, they will be asked to take routine RT-PCR and ask to wait for results," Kiran Dighavkar, assistant municipal commissioner, BMC, tweeted.

Presently, 13 countries are listed in the 'at risk' category.

Passengers arriving from the UAE will also have to undergo rapid RT-PCR tests on arrival as per rules.

On Tuesday, Mumbai reported 10,860 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily count after April 7, 2021, while two more patients succumbed to the infection, as per the civic body.

The passengers found positive for coronavirus in the rapid RT-PCR test will have to undergo a regular RT-PCR test at the Mumbai international airport itself, as per the revised order of the BMC.

"If the routine RT-PCR test is positive, then the sample will be sent immediately for genome sequencing and the passenger will be sent to institutional quarantine," the order said.

Passengers who test negative will be allowed to leave the airport, but they will need to observe mandatory home quarantine for seven days.

"If this sample (routine RT-PCR) test is negative, then the concerned passenger will be allowed to go home for mandatory home quarantine for a total period of seven days," as per the revised guidelines.

All symptomatic passengers testing positive at the airport will be admitted to Seven Hills Hospital, while asymptomatic passengers will be admitted to the jumbo COVID-19 facilities in the Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) or Kanjurmarg.

If any symptomatic passenger prefers a private hospital, he/she will be shifted to the Bombay Hospital or Breach Candy Hospital, while the asymptomatic patients with similar preferences will be transferred to linked hotels on their expenditure, the guidelines said.

At least 220 resident doctors at government hospitals in Mumbai have tested positive for coronavirus in the last three days, a senior office-bearer of their association said on Wednesday.

Ganesh Solunke, president of the J J Hospital chapter of the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), said 73 resident doctors at this state-run hospital in central Mumbai have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 72 hours.

Besides, 60 resident doctors at the King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital, 80 at the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital and another seven at R N Cooper Hospital have also contracted the viral infection, he added.

These three hospitals are run by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

Further, in the neighbouring Thane city, eight resident doctors at the civic-run Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Hospital have tested positive for the virus.

Maharashtra on Wednesday reported 26,538 new coronavirus cases including 15,166 in Mumbai, the highest-ever daily count in the metropolis, and eight fatalities.

Mumbai on Wednesday crossed a major milestone of administering over 1 crore first dose of coronavirus vaccines to eligible citizens nearly a year after the nationwide inoculation programme was launched, the city civic body said.

According to a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) release, taking into account both first and second dose, over 1.

81 crore vaccine shots have been administered to people in Mumbai since the vaccination drive was launched on January 16, 2021.

The civic body said the city has been swiftly moving towards achieving the milestone of administering 2 crore doses before the first anniversary of the COVID-19 vaccination drive.

The vaccination drive began with inoculation of health workers and gradually frontline workers, senior citizens and people from other age groups were added.

Early this week, the drive was expanded to cover children in the 15 to 18 age group.

According to the release, the milestone of administering 50 lakh jabs was achieved on June 26 and the 1-crore mark (combining first and second dose) was crossed on September 4, 2021.

On Wednesday, Mumbai recorded 15,166 new coronavirus cases, its highest-ever daily count so far, and three deaths.

Another 139 of total 1,827 passengers onboard the Cordelia cruise ship, which has returned from Goa, tested positive for coronavirus infection on Wednesday, said an official of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

These 139 patients were in addition to 66 passengers who were found to have contracted COVID-19 earlier.

Of the 66, 60 passengers had returned to Mumbai while six had disembarked in Goa.

A BMC official said the passengers who tested positive but have no symptoms will be quarantined at home, while the symptomatic ones will be shifted to institutional quarantine.

Earlier, the BMC's executive health officer Dr Mangala Gomare had told PTI that another 143 passengers had tested positive on Wednesday, but late at night the civic body revised this figure to 139.

The 60 patients who had tested positive earlier and returned here have been already shifted to various hotels besides the Byculla based Jumbo COVID-19 centre of the BMC and the government-run Saint George Hospital.

The BMC update said that it collected 1,827 samples after the ship docked at the International Cruise Terminal at Ballard Pier in South Mumbai on Tuesday evening.

The BMC had appointed two private laboratories for conducting the tests and the samples were collected in two batches till 5.30 am, it said.

The passengers whose COVID-19 test came out negative will be allowed to go home, but it will be mandatory for them to stay in home quarantine for seven days.

Maharashtra on Wednesday reported 26,538 fresh coronavirus positive cases, including 15,166 in Mumbai, the highest-ever daily count in the metropolis, and eight fatalities, civic officials and the state health department said.

Compared with Tuesday, the fresh cases in Maharashtra rose by 43.71 per cent or 8,072 in absolute numbers on Wednesday.

With these additions, the state's COVID-19 tally rose to 67,57,032, while the death toll increased to 1,41,581, it said.

Mumbai's overall coronavirus infection count jumped to 8,33,628, while the death toll increased to 16,384, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said in a bulletin.

Amid the spurt in COVID-19 cases, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Wednesday said 100 per cent lockdown is not required as of now, but stressed the need to impose restrictions wherever there is crowding.

The state government also decided to shut all non-agricultural, autonomous universities, technical and affiliated colleges in Maharashtra till February 15, Minister Uday Samant said and added that classes will continue online.

Schools in Nagpur city and some adjoining areas will remain shut for physical classes for students of Grades 1 to 8 from Thursday.

Maharashtra also recorded 144 new cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant of coronavirus in the last 24 hours, including 100 from Mumbai, taking their cumulative tally to 797 so far, the department said.

On Tuesday, Maharashtra had logged 18,466 new COVID-19 cases and 20 fatalities.

The state is now left with 87,505 active cases including 61,923 from Mumbai, the department said in a bulletin.

Of the 144 Omicron cases, 100 cases are from Mumbai, 11 from Nagpur, 7 each from Thane city and Pune city, 6 from Pimpri-Chinchwad, 5 from Kolhapur, 2 each from Amravati, Ulhasnagar and Bhiwandi-Nizampur, and one each from Panvel and Osmanabad, it said.

The case fatality rate in Maharashtra now stands at 2.09 per cent, the bulletin said.

A total of 5,331 patients were discharged in the last 24 hours, taking the tally of the recoveries so far in Maharashtra to 65,24,247, it said.

The case recovery rate in Maharashtra now stands at 96.55 per cent.

Mumbai recorded 15,014 new COVID-19 cases, a steep rise from 4,408 cases seen the day before, and three more deaths, according to the state health bulletin.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), however, put the number of new cases at 15,166, which is the highest-ever daily count so far in the metropolis, a rise by 4,306 from a day ago, and three deaths.

But almost 87 per cent of new patients in Mumbai were asymptomatic, they added.

The Mumbai region, which comprises the metropolis and satellite cities, recorded 21,738 new cases, followed by the Pune region (3052), Nashik (655), Nagpur (488), Kolhapur (237), Latur (139 ), Aurangabad (115), and the Akola region (114), the state bulletin said.

Across Maharashtra, only Dhule district and Malegaon municipal corporation did not report any new COVID-19 case, it said.

Mumbai region reported four fresh COVID-19 fatalities, followed by two in the Latur region, and one each in the Nashik and Pune regions, the bulletin said.

Kolhapur, Aurangabad , Nagpur and Akola regions did not report any fresh fatalities.

A total of 2,67,747 coronavirus tests were conducted in the last 24 hours in Maharashtra, raising the cumulative count to 6,97,77,007.

Currently, 5,13,758 people are in home quarantine and 1,366 people are in institutional quarantine in Maharashtra, it added.

Coronavirus figures of Maharashtra are as follows: Positive cases 67,57,032; fresh cases 26,538; death toll 1,41,581; recoveries 65,24,247 active cases 87,505, total tests 6,97,77,007.

As the cases are rising significantly, Tope said the silver lining is that 90 per cent of the cases are asymptomatic.

Of the 10 per cent symptomatic patients, only one to two per cent require hospitalisation.

"The Task Force has used the term augmented restrictions, which means if the cases rise like this. We don't have to use the term lockdown. Hundred per cent lockdown is not certainly required as of today," the minister told reporters.

He said augmented restrictions means that non-essential activities have to be stopped.

"Wherever crowding takes place, there have to be restrictions, but it is not the case that it (curbs) should be brought today," Tope added.

The minister strongly emphasised on ramping up the vaccination against COVID-19 and focusing on those who have not taken the jabs and third dose for frontline workers.

Schools in Nagpur city and some adjoining areas will remain shut for physical classes for students of Grades 1 to 8 from Thursday in view of the rising coronavirus cases, Maharashtra minister Nitin Raut said on Wednesday.

Raut, who is also the Nagpur district guardian minister, announced the decision after holding a meeting with the local administration on the coronavirus situation and preparedness on tackling the spurt in cases.

Addressing a press conference after the meeting, he said offline classes for students of Grades 1 to 8 in private and government schools will be closed from January 6 in Nagpur city and some areas in its periphery.

Raut did not say how long these schools will be closed for in-person learning, but added the decision has been on lines of Pune where schools for Classes 1 to 8 will remain shut till January 30.

The minister said from January 6, RT-PCR test will be made mandatory in government and private offices in Nagpur district and only those returning negative result will be allowed to attend offices.

On Wednesday, Nagpur district recorded 404 new coronavirus cases, up from 196 a day ago, officials said.

There are now 1,076 active cases in the district, they added.

(THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)