Mumbai News

Coronavirus | Huge spike in cases likely in Mumbai, says Central panel – The Hindu

A five-member Central team has projected that the number of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai will touch an estimated 42,604 by April 30 and spiral to 6,56,407 by May 15.

Based on mathematical modelling for Mumbai by the Union Ministry of Health on April 16, the data presented by the team caught the Maharastra government off guard. The State government contested the methodology and tools used for the latest projection and gap analysis.

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According to the data projections initially put together by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Mumbai’s health infrastructure during this peak would have a staggering shortage of 13,636 ventilators and 4,83,000 isolation beds.

The State government on Tuesday made a detailed presentation of its own to the visiting Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCTs), highlighting the “discrepancies” in the modelling.

According to the projections presented on April 16, the shortage of isolation beds without oxygen support will touch 30,481 by April 30 in Mumbai, while beds with oxygen support will fall short by 5,466. As cases cross 40,000, the city will need another 1,200 ICU beds and 392 ventilators. When the case count touches 6,56,407 on May 15, the shortage of isolation beds without oxygen support will be a staggering 4,83,385, and shortage of ICU beds will be 27,688 while the shortage of ventilators will be 13,636, said the report, a copy of which is with The Hindu.

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The worst affected areas will be Dharavi, Worli-Mahalaxmi, Matunga/Sion, Parel, Andheri West, Govandi-Mankhurd, Nagpada and Byculla. A total of 8,434 volunteers will be needed to tackle the outbreak in these areas, the report said.

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“We are taking the projections with a pinch of salt even as we do not wish to discard them completely. The response of the State is now scaled up keeping in mind these numbers. Overall, the basis of using a Doubling Rate of 3.8 days has been questioned by us and not factoring in discharge patients and our methods of isolating high risk patients in the slums are not at all factored in while drawing these projections,” said a senior Maharashtra bureaucrat.

A senior State health official told The Hindu that several models were being used for projections of COVID-19 cases to gauge Maharashtra’s preparedness based on these projections.

“All the models have derived varied results. Some predicted at least a lakh cases over the next few weeks while some have predicted a staggering explosion with several lakh of cases,” said the official, adding that some of the figures seemed exaggerated and misleading.

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“The State, as well as the Centre, is equally puzzled. We are all confused about which estimate to go by. However, it was decided to take a slightly higher projection and work on those statistics in order to be better prepared rather than being under-prepared,” he said.

The official also said the Government of India has now made its own tool that is currently being used in Maharashtra. “We are already in the process of carrying out a gap analysis based on the projections made by the new tool,” he said.

Mumbai, which has become the epicentre of the outbreak with the highest number of cases and deaths, is the State’s biggest concern.

Of the 5,218 cases recorded in Maharashtra, 66% were in Mumbai alone. The city also contributed to 60% of the 251 deaths in the State.

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The decision to convert the tertiary care Nair Hospital, attached to a medical college, into a COVID-19 facility taking large empty areas and converting them in quarantine facilities have all stemmed from anticipating the worst.

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“We are preparing for the worse as Mumbai continues to be at the peak. The city’s density poses a challenge,” said a doctor who is on the newly formed task force by the government.