While mild showers on Saturday were a welcome respite from the heat, doctors warn that it can lead to the spread of H1N1 virus
As the sudden mild downpour took Mumbaiites by surprise on Saturday, the Indian Metrological Department (IMD) has predicted that the entire coastal region of the state will witness a light rainfall for the next 24 hours. Doctors, however, have cautioned that the change in climate can lead to airborne viruses. While the last few days have witnessed an increase in the number of swine flu patients, the sudden rain will lead to the spread of H1N1 virus.
In pictures: Sudden rainshowers catch Mumbaikars by surprise
Most people, like this man, were caught unawares by the unseasonal showers and had to take cover under books and newspapers. Pic/Satyajit Desai
Rajiv Nair, director, IMD, said, “The sudden change in climate is due to the upper air cyclonic circulation over Kutch in Gujarat. Due to the drift in the atmosphere, there is a lot of moisture incursion resulting into mild rainfall and windy conditions. We are expecting similar conditions for the next 24 hours,” said Nair.
Wiqar Shaikh, professor of medicine, allergy and asthma specialist at Grant medical college, JJ Group of hospitals pointed out that the climate change has come at a time when there is already an increase in pollution levels due to the Deonar dumping yard fire. “Sudden fluctuation in temperature will lead to an influx of virus causing upper respiratory infection. Due to the Deonar fire, the pollution has increased, so residents need to wear masks while travelling,” said Shaikh.
While the reports of rainfall are coming from the entire coastal region of the state, the climate change has taken place at a time when Mumbai has witnessed over 525 cases of Swine flu, out of which 215 patients have tested positive for the virus in the past four days. “We are expecting an increase in the number of patients. Though we have the mechanism ready to tackle the issue, the sudden climate change has become a matter of concern,” said Dr Mangla Gomare, head of epidemiology cell at BMC. She further added that residents should continue following the preventive measures and should get diagnosed as soon as they feel unwell.
Even Dr Om Shrivastava, director of the department of infectious diseases, Jaslok Hospital, confirmed that the virus is bound to affect more people due to the cold weather. “The virus thrives in a climate like this. Dampness and cold weather will help the H1N1 virus to sustain longer,” said Shrivastava.
Commuters faced traffic congestion in certain parts of central suburban areas like Parel, Dadar and Sion among others.
Not the first time
Weather officials predict that similar rainshowers will occur on Sunday. Coincidentally there were unseasonal rainshowers last February as well. (Click here to view pictures)
Furthermore, the city bore witness to heavy downpour, thundershowers and water-logging in several areas during the months of November and December. Several areas in the western, central suburbs and certain areas of Navi Mumbai were reportedly affected the most during that time.