Maharashtra’s capital, Mumbai, on Tuesday, overtook China in the number of coronavirus positive cases and deaths. Notably, COVID-19 was first reported in China in late 2019. According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Mumbai's recovery rate is 67%. The overall growth rate of cases in Maharashtra's capital is 1.60%.
In an exclusive interview with Zakka Jacob, Executive Editor, CNN-News18, BMC Commissioner, Iqbal Singh Chahal speaks on how COVID cases are plateauing in Mumbai.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q – Since you are leading the situation of Covid-19 in the city, can we say with the degree of certainty that Mumbai has managed to flatten the curve and how have you managed to do that?
A – Today in Mumbai, we may have 85,000 positive cases but if you see the statistics of the last one month that's exactly on the 7th of June, we had 47,000 cases and 30,000 active cases. Today, we have 85,000 cases and only 23,000 active cases. Total cases have gone to 47,000 to 85,000 but active cases fell down from 30,000 to 23,000 only. The doubling rate is highest in the country. We have now 67% discharge against national average of 61. Two months back, our rate of infection was 8.6 %, it is almost 1.4% now. This is very reassuring.
In the last two months, our beds went from 3,000 to 15,000 fully staffed in the DCHC and DCH hospitals only. 8,000 beds are already also ready to take us to 20,000 beds in hospitals. If you add quarantine beds and triple C beds, then we are at 95,000 beds now from 24000 beds.
Q – How would you respond to the folks who say that one of the reasons perhaps that we have seen a declining trend in Mumbai is because of the lower amount of testing compared to a city like Delhi. If you were to take a daily test, I believe it's been kept under 5,000; Delhi is testing about 15,000 per day. If you were to take it as a per million population, Mumbai is roughly around 30,000 per million. Delhi is about 40,000 per million. How would you respond to that?
A – As far as testing is concerned, Delhi is 33,868 per million and Mumbai is 27,916 per million. In Delhi, they have added RT-PCR figures and antigen figures also. We are not merging these figures. If you take RT-PCR figures only, then we are still number one in the country. Today, we took a bold decision and that is to totally scrap prescription. Anybody, whether he is symptomatic or asymptomatic, can call up a lab. We have allowed 100% lab testing without prescription.
Q – Isn't there a fear now that the outskirts, satellite cities and the satellite towns surrounding Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane etc, which are all in lockdown now are seeing a spike of cases? Many people in Mumbai live in these outskirts and work in the city. As and when these cities open up and people start coming back to work again isn't there a fear that the caseload in Mumbai will also increase?
A – We are fully prepared for that right now. Right now, we are in a very commanding and controlling situation as we have a very strong grip on this virus now. Right now, only 8500 beds in hospitals are occupied by our 23,000 active cases because most of the 14,000 cases are asymptomatic or home quarantined. So, the actual number of occupancy in the hospitals is only 8,500 and we have 15,000 beds fully staffed and we have 23,000 beds now and other 8,000 which we can add tomorrow morning. We are fully prepared for that. Even if this spike is there, still we will be able to manage these patients and that is our strength today.
Question – Isn't there a risk of this infection now possibly spreading further because of the opening up of hotels? How have you got to this point that you are confident that hotels can be opened?
A – On 3rd June, we decided that 50% of the shop in Mumbai will open on one day and 50% the next day. So, in 48 hours cycle, cent percent shops in Mumbai are opening for the last one month.
Our cases have come down from an average of 1700 to 1200-1100 now. Today, I got the lowest figure of 785 cases since 8th May, despite 10 million people on the road. That is why, that made us confident that now we can open the hotels and next week we are planning to open the restaurant also.