The country’s financial capital reported 5,335 active COVID-19 cases on February 8, and the number went up to 7,276 on Sunday, according to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) data. Notably, on February 8, the city had recorded its lowest average growth rate of COVID-19 cases at 0.12 per cent and the highest average doubling rate of 574 days, as per the statistics.
At present, Mumbai’s average growth rate of COVID-19 cases is 0.20 per cent and the average doubling rate is 346 days, according to the data. Though the daily COVID-19 cases have been rising in the city, the number of fatalities remained low, around three to five every day, as per the data.
According to BMC officials, the surge in daily cases started in the second week of February. On Sunday, Mumbai reported over 900 COVID-19 cases, as compared to less than 500 daily cases in the first week of February.
Civic officials said there are various reasons for the rise in cases, like careless attitude of people towards COVID-19 protocols, allowing the general public to travel in local trains, opening of malls, offices, hotels and restaurants. BMC’s Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani said as restrictions were eased, crowds were witnessed at various marriage functions, other social events, and in malls, restaurants, pubs and clubs.
The number of passengers in local trains also increased from eight lakh (in January-end) to 22 lakh (after all members of the public were allowed in February), he said. “Many people are behaving as if the COVID-19 threat is not there. They are not following protocols at public places,” Kakani said.
According to the BMC, it has already increased daily COVID-19 tests from around 15,000 earlier this month to over 22,000 now. “Among the positive cases, the number of asymptomatic persons is more,” Kakani said.
The civic body is also trying to find out if the virus has mutated. Kakani said they have already sent 90 samples to the Pune-based National Institute of Virology to check for any mutation of the virus.
It takes 10 to 15 days to get the report from the institute, he said. Since last week, the BMC has intensified action against those found without masks in public places, and started a crackdown on establishments like marriage halls, hotels and restaurants which are found violating the COVID-19 norms.
The civic body has also filed police complaints against some establishments in the last few days, officials said.
Maharashtra Food and Civil Supplies Minister Chhagan Bhujbal today said he has tested positive for coronavirus. Bhujbal is the seventh minister to be infected by the novel coronavirus this month. In a post on Twitter, Bhujbal said his health is fine. “I have tested positive for COVID-19. All those who came in my contact over the past two-three days should get themselves tested,” he tweeted. “My health is fine and there is no reason to worry.All citizens should take proper care in the backdrop of COVID-19. Should wear masks and use sanitisers regularly,” the NCP leader added.
Earlier this month, Maharashtra ministers Anil Deshmukh, Rajendra Shingne, Jayant Patil, Rajesh Tope, Satej Patil and Bachchu Kadu tested positive for the disease. Last year, over 12 state ministers, including Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, contracted the viral infection. Of late, there has been a spike in COVID-19 cases in the state. On Sunday, Maharashtra reported 6,971 new coronavirus cases, raising the state’s infection tally to 21,00,884. The state also reported 35 fatalities due to COVID-19 on Sunday, taking the toll to 51,788, as per official data..
Meanwhile, the United States faces a dark milestone this week despite a recent decline in COVID-19 cases as it prepares to mark a staggering half-million deaths, with President Joe Biden planning to memorialize the lives lost. While the number of COVID-19 cases fell for the fifth straight week and officials scrambled to inoculate the population, the nation was poised to reach 500,000 deaths from the highly infectious respiratory disease. It has been nearly a year since the pandemic upended the country with dueling public health and economic crises.
“It’s nothing like we’ve ever been through in the last 102 years since the 1918 influenza pandemic. … It really is a terrible situation that we’ve been through – and that we’re still going through,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House COVID-19 medical adviser and the nation’s top infectious disease official, told CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday. The White House said on Sunday it planned a memorial event in which Biden would deliver remarks.
A White House spokesman said the president along with first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff would hold a moment of silence on Monday and there would be a candle-lighting ceremony at sundown. Biden last month observed America’s COVID-19 deaths on the eve of his inauguration with a sundown ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial’s Reflecting Pool. Biden will use “his own voice and platform to take a moment to remember the people whose lives have been lost, the families who are still suffering … at what is still a very difficult moment in this country,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday.
Meanwhile, Coronavirus cases in Italy are on the rise again, in large part due to the more infectious British variant, a top virologist warned in a newspaper interview published Sunday. His comments came as Italians in several cities ignored official appeals to stay at home to go out and enjoy the unusually mild weather over the weekend.
“Obviously, I’m worried,” Massimo Galli, a specialist based at the Sacco de Milan hospital, told the Rome-based daily Il Messaggero. “The resurgence in infections is due in large part to the English variant. “To be honest, all the data is going in the direction of a rise in new cases,” he added. Although Italy’s Higher Institute of Health (ISS) appealed to people on Friday to stay at home despite the forecast of milder weather, crowds packed the streets, parks and seafronts in several cities.
On Sunday, with variant cases of the virus on the rise, officials reclassified three more regions from moderate-risk “yellow” to the higher risk “orange” status.