Mumbai, April 17
There has been a sizable reduction in number of deaths due to coronavirus in Mumbai, with the number of deaths confined to single digit, due to change in testing norms by the BMC. However the number of positive cases continued to rise.
On Friday 34 new cases were detected, They included 23 in Pune, 6 in Mumbai, 4 in Malegaon and one in Thane. Besides 6 persons, including doctors, of Bombay Hospital tested positive.
In view of the constant increase in number of patients and resultant fatalities, Dr Ajay Chandanwale, Medical Superintendent of Sassoon Hospital, Pune was transferred all of a sudden on Thursday night. In response doctors of the Sassoon Hospital staged protest demonstrations outside hospital on Friday.
By and large there has been reduction by 35 per cent in new patients in Mumbai, officials said. Out of the 7 deaths on Thursday, 5 were men and 2 were women. 4 of them aged over 60 years and 3 were from the age group of 40 to 60 years. 6 out of these 7 patients had high-risk co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and heart disease. The death rate in the last week was 9 to 16 on an average. As of now the number of positive patients is 3236, with 194 deaths in Maharashtra. As against this the number of recovered patient was 205.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that 83 per cent of the deceased suffered from co-morbidities. Over 300 patients were fully recovered. An audit will be conducted about the fatalities to assess whether the patients died mainly due to coronavirus or due to other ailments. Six more laboratories are being started to take total number of laboratories to 36 to ensure faster testing. Till last week, there was a quantum jump in the number of cases. . However now the number of cases have come down due to the implementation of micro-plan for containing local outbreak of COVID-19.
Now the BMC has began first testing only symptomatic people to reduce the load on testing laboratories. Senior citizens or those with co-morbidities also do not make the cut unless they are symptomatic. Asymptomatic people are the second priority.
In Mumbai, samples are being tested at the pathology labs at Kasturba and KEM hospitals and branches of the 16 private labs approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Between February 3 and April 12, the city tested more than 24,000 people, of which 5.8% were positive. Till now high-risk contacts of a COVID-19 patient would also be tested. However, now the BMC tests only those with symptoms.
Private labs have been collecting swab samples from people’s homes and a few drive-through testing facilities. Besides, fever clinics and health camps are being held in containment zones.
As per the ICMR strategy unless a person does not exhibit symptoms, he does not transmit the virus. As such the BMC has began following this testing strategy. In Mumbai 70% cases are asymptomatic. Including government and private labs, BMC can carry out a maximum of 2,200 tests per day. As against this, it receives 3,000-4,000 swabs a day, as such it has to prioritise.
The latest testing strategy released by the ICMR on April 9 says that symptomatic individuals — those with international travel history, contacts of positive patients, healthcare workers — and patients with severe acute respiratory illness (fever and cough and/or shortness of breath) should be tested. Asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case should be tested once between days five and 14 of coming in contact. In hotspots, clusters and in large migration gatherings and evacuee centres, all symptomatic patients should be tested.