COVID-19 impact: City cases could reach 70k, not 6.5 lakh, assures BMC

Updated: 24 April, 2020 07:41 IST | Dharmendra Jore | Mumbai

Civic body counters Union team's projections, wants govt hospitals to step up Coronavirus fight instead of putting burden on BMC hospitals

The quarantine facility created by BMC at NSCI Dome can accommodate 400-500 beds. Pic/ Ashish Raje
The quarantine facility created by BMC at NSCI Dome can accommodate 400-500 beds. Pic/ Ashish Raje

After the Union Health Ministry's projections that the city would have 6.50 lakh COVID-19 patients by May 15 scared distressed citizens, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) own estimates say that positive cases could reach 60,000 to 70,000 in the same period. Though smaller than the Delhi squad's assessment, the projections have the BMC on its toes.

The civic body now wants government-run hospitals in the city to step up their efforts against Coronavirus instead of leaving everything up to the civic-run facilities.

The projections were shared with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta at a meeting held at the Mayor's Bungalow on Wednesday. After considering all aspects and BMC's assessment for the next 25 days, they reached a consensus that the Centre over-reviewed Mumbai. "Considering the existing doubling time of seven days, the exponential growth suggested by the Union team is impossible. But we will also ensure that we are prepared to meet any eventuality," said one of the attendees.

Following this meeting, Health Minister Rajesh Tope and BMC, issued a strong rejoinder to the Centre's team's projections. BMC said the visiting union government officials didn't discuss the projections with the municipal commissioner, additional municipal commissioner or any other official.

"The news reports in the name of the Centre's team are misleading and baseless," said the BMC in a statement. It said the BMC data established that the pandemic was in control. "We have followed the Centre's guidelines and it has helped us greatly," the statement said.

Sources said minor disagreements surfaced during the meeting between municipal chief Praveen Pardeshi and Mehta over creating quarantine facilities for the estimated 70,000 cases. Open grounds and schools were discussed as options, with open spaces being ruled out because of sanitation issues.

"The main problem is of asymptomatic patients who cannot be kept with families in slums where quarantine isn't possible. We have started creating quarantine and isolation facilities. Not all cases need ventilators but as per a revised protocol, the oxygen supply would be a must. We are laying pipelines to facilitate uninterrupted oxygen supply," said the officer who was in the meeting.

The other important issue discussed was a lack of effort from government-run hospitals in the city when the entire burden is being borne by civic hospitals.

The CM is reported to have asked the JJ Group of Hospitals and Central government-run facilities to create bigger COVID-19 wards. One of JJ's units near CST has a small facility, but experts said the parent institute in Byculla alone could have 500-600 beds. Interestingly, JJ's dean, Dr Pallavi Sapale, has successfully led a team of doctors in containing the serious situation in Sangli-Islampur where no further positive cases were found.

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First Published: 24 April, 2020 07:34 IST

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