Mumbai plays patience as coronavirus lockdown may be extended to May 18; health min, IAS officers back move

Updated: Apr 27, 2020, 07:38 IST | Chetna Sadadekar | Mumbai

With at least one top bureaucrat saying so on social media, other IAS officers mid-day spoke to are also in favour of an extension in view of rising cases

The deserted area outside Dadar station
The deserted area outside Dadar station

Just a day after Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said that Mumbai was at risk of a further spread of COVID-19, hinting at a possible extension of the lockdown till May 18, senior IAS officer Manisha Mhaiskar posted on Facebook on Sunday saying the decision was likely. Speaking in favour of the extension, two other IAS officers told mid-day contain-ment was the only way out.

Mhaiskar further mentions in her post that the number of cases in the city might go up to 70,000 by mid-May and that it was important to keep the doubling rate of cases static instead of allowing it to increase. She further talks about 'herd immunity' through her Facebook post.

People cross a police checkpost at Bhendi Bazar on Sunday
People cross a police checkpost at Bhendi Bazar on Sunday

"The current doubling rate of Coronavirus in Mumbai is seven days and as per the assessment, positive cases have doubled from 2,120 on April 17 to 4,232 on April 23. And if seven days are taken as the input assumption, the modelling suggests that there would be around 70,000 cases by the second half of May. State and civic officials are trying to improve the doubling rate to eight, nine or 10 days and are also working to ensure that the rate at which the cases are increasing goes down," she said through her post.

She further mentions that after this the next task is to establish COVID care centres for asymptomatic patients who are likely to be 80-90 per cent of the above projections. For those who need hospital care COVID beds are being augmented in both private and public sector hospitals. For symptomatic patients or those with co-morbidity, a bed is the most precious resource and teams at Nair, SevenHills, Kasturba and HBT Trauma hospitals are working really hard towards patient care and bed augmentation.

A police officer checks a vehicle in South Mumbai
A police officer checks a vehicle in South Mumbai

Her post mentions, "Much is being said about 'herd immunity' but don't get fooled or become careless or complacent. Though estimates vary, most experts agree that at least 80-90 per cent of the population needs to be immune to the virus for herd immunity to develop. In the absence of a vaccination, implications of trying the herd immunity theory are both scary and disastrous. The countries, which thought of letting herd immunity develop in the early stages, are now facing disastrous consequences at a very heavy human cost. Thankfully, neither India nor Maharashtra has ascribed to this theory."

She ended the post by saying, "My own personal assessment is that lockdown will probably have to be extended for Mumbai and even when it's lifted, we will do well to remember that the virus is still around, there is no cure or vaccine and we are far from developing herd immunity."

Locals sanitise themselves by entering a disinfection tunnel at Jijamata Nagar in Worli
Locals sanitise themselves by entering a disinfection tunnel at Jijamata Nagar in Worli

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior BMC officer said, "With the rising number of cases, there are chances that the lockdown in the city will be extended. Even the health minister has hinted at a possible extension but we are preparing for the worst. We are enhancing infrastructure to attend to more number of positive cases that might further increase in near future. We are working on adding more beds and focusing on contact tracing and testing so that patients are identified at the earliest and are attended to. We are also taking all possible measures to ensure that the total number of cases comes down."

Another senior IAS officer said, "There are chances of an extension of the lockdown period considering the rate at which the numbers are going up. It will help keep the numbers in check, as containment is the only measure we can take in the current situation, especially in a city like Mumbai. However, the final call is of the government but I do feel the extension is likely. However, a decision has to be taken on how many days the extension would be for."

Manisha Mhaiskar, IAS, on Facebook
Manisha Mhaiskar, IAS, on Facebook

May 18
Date health minister said the lockdown could be extended to

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