Third wave may peak by month-end or 1st week of Feb: Tope
Mumbai State public health minister Rajesh Tope said that the third wave may peak by January-end or the first week of February before beginning to taper.
The daily Covid positivity numbers dropped to 33,470 on Monday, compared to 44,388 on Sunday. This was mostly due to reduced testing as 1,73,806 tests were conducted on Sunday, compared to 2,02,932 the previous day.
Mumbai led the tally with 13,648 cases, and of the eight deaths reported in the state, it accounted for five. Meanwhile, 31 Omicron cases were found in the state, of which the highest number was from Pune at 28, followed by Pune rural at two and Pimpri Chinchwad at one. So far, a total of 1,247 Omicron cases have been reported in the state.
After a two-hour meeting with Mansukh Mandaviya, the union minister for health and family welfare, Tope addressed the media and sought to allay fear over the virus. He added that of the people testing positive for the virus, only a minuscule needed oxygen support or intensive care. Of those testing positive, around 85 per cent were asymptomatic. He added that the home quarantine period had been fixed at seven days.
Tope also said that the number of active Covid cases in Maharashtra was 1.73 lakh. However, of these, just 1,711 (one per cent) were in the ICU, and 5,400 (two per cent) were on oxygen support.
“The rest of them, or 13 per cent, are patients with mild and moderate symptoms. There are no deaths on a large scale or demand for ICU beds or oxygen,” said Tope. Only 38,850 ICU and 1.34 lakh oxygen beds were occupied. Maharashtra had 16,000 ventilator beds, and just 700 of them were occupied, indicating a minimal load on the infrastructure.
Of the 523 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants that had been approved, 404 were functional and had been tested, and the others will be commissioned soon.
While the state has announced that a lockdown will be imposed in auto mode when the demand for medical oxygen touches 700 metric tons (MT) a day and when 40 per cent of beds are occupied, the oxygen requirement for both, Covid and non-Covid patients were just around 250 MT.
“We told the minister that there is no huge stress on the infrastructure,” said Tope, adding that they had been asked to focus on testing, tracing, treatment, Covid-appropriate behaviour and vaccination. The state will also work on boosting vaccination numbers and adopt an aggressive strategy for it. So far, 89 per cent of the target beneficiaries in the state have been given the first dose of the vaccine, while vaccination has been completed for 60 per cent. The numbers had to be improved in Aurangabad district, where they were lower.
Referring to the state’s decision to close down educational institutions till February 15, Tope said he had discussed this with Balram Bhargava, Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Bhargava had advocated more curbs if the positivity rate crossed 10 per cent, while this was at a higher 15.5 per cent in Maharashtra.
“The third wave is here,” said Tope. “The spike will not be permanent. Perhaps, this rise will persist till January-end or the first week of February, and then begin to taper. This is based on what experts have been saying based on the experience globally… the curbs can be done away with when the cases start declining,” he explained, asking parents, students and stakeholders to take the decision “in the right spirit.”
District collectors have been told to give home isolation kits containing multi-vitamin and paracetamol tablets, masks, and sanitisers. Asymptomatic patients will also be sensitised on precautions to be taken.