The highest share of 33.5% cases, double that of Mumbai’s, came from the emerging hotspot of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. Pune division contributed the second largest chunk of 30% cases.
The case trajectory clearly underlines the observation of experts that hotspots in the state have shifted from metros to their neighbouring satellite cities. This has given rise to concern as most of the smaller cities have inadequate health infrastructure while they are adding cases in large numbers. Among them are 8 corporations surrounding Mumbai and Pimpri Chinchwad next to Pune. Unlocking has pushed up cases in July, says official
Maharashtra added 2,01,109 cases since July 1, of which MMR’s share (excluding Mumbai) was 34% or 67,363 cases and Mumbai’s was 31,513 cases. Pune region added the second highest number at 61,027 cases. Mumbai’s share in the state’s caseload has been on a steady decline since June, while other cities have been adding more cases. In June, when the state had added 1,07,089 cases, Mumbai’s share was 34%.
Outside of these urban hubs, the remaining 41,206 cases of the 2 lakh in July were added from the rest of the state. Aurangabad division, which includes Hingoli, Jalna and Parbhani, added over 8,000 cases and Nashik division, which includes cities like Malegaon, Dhule and Jalgaon, added 18,500 cases.
A senior official attributed the rise in July cases to unlocking in a major way. In most sectors businesses and shops were opened up, and even unrestricted travel between MMR districts was allowed. “The worry is about cases spreading to rural areas of many districts. The number may not be big compared to most cities, but even those cases are a lot for these smaller cities to handle,” the official said.
Another senior official said there was also a jump in testing, which led to more cases. “Till June 30, 9.66 lakh samples were tested in the state, which has now increased to 19 lakh. It means between June 30 and July 27, 10 lakh samples more have been tested. Despite that, positivity rate has jumped only by 2%, from 18% in June to 20% in July,” the official said.
Dr Subhash Salunkhe, a member of the state’s technical committee, said the concentration of cases continue to be essentially in urban areas. “Mumbai, MMR and Western Maharashtra are seeing cases majorly. In Vidarbha, barring Nagpur, there aren’t many hotspots. Our observation is wherever there is mobility, say areas close to highways or migration routes, we are seeing cases. What we need to learn is how to handle cases and for that, more medical personnel have to be trained to treat Covid,” he said.
He added that since rural or semi-urban areas don’t have many intensivists or trained nurses, basic training to treat Covid must be imparted. “As cases travel to areas outside of urban pockets, that has to be the strategy,” he said.