COVID-19: Sister cities near Mumbai witness 4X cases, 8X deaths
Even as Mumbai seems to be nearing a plateau with cases doubling in the last 30 days, the situation in the rest of the metropolitan region has worsened in the same period
In a changing trend in the rise in COVID-19 cases over the past month, other areas of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) have seen a sharp increase in numbers (cases and deaths), while the growth rate in Mumbai has slowed down. From May 23 to June 22, Mumbai saw a two-fold increase in cases and four-fold rise in deaths, but in the rest of MMR, the same increased four-fold and eight-fold, respectively.
In the first two months of the lockdown, these areas had reported comparatively lesser number of cases. The MMR includes Mumbai, parts of Thane, Palghar and Raigad districts. The area has eight municipal corporations – Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli, Navi Mumbai, Ulhasnagar, Bhiwandi-Nizampur, Vasai-Virar and Mira-Bhayandar, and nine municipal councils along with more than a 1,000 villages in Thane and Raigad districts. As per the 2011 census, Mumbai has a population of 1.24 crore, while 74.38 lakh people live in the areas under the eight municipal corporations. The remaining part of MMR has a population of around 25 lakh.
In the first two months of the lockdown, cases in Mumbai had reached 25,000, while in the rest of MMR it was 7,356, merely 20 per cent of the total number of cases on May 23.
In the first two months of the lockdown, cases in Mumbai had reached 25,000, while in the rest of MMR it was 7,356. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Even the number of deaths in Mumbai was nearly 1,000 by that time, while only 120 deaths were reported in the rest of the area. But as the region started to open up as part of Unlock 1, the number of COVID-19 cases started increasing in the MMR.
Speaking to mid-day, additional chief secretary S J Kunte, who looks into the COVID-19 work in the rest of MMR, said that the respective corporations and councils had been instructed on how to handle the situation.
He added, "A rise in the number of cases was expected since the areas are opening up and movement has started. But at the same time we are increasing the number of quarantine facilities and oxygen/ICU/ventilator beds. Testing and tracing of at least 10 close contacts of COVID-19 patients have been started." He further said that house-to-house surveys, identifying people with co-morbidities, aged people with low oxygen levels and helping them with immediate medical care would help in bringing down the number of deaths in the region.
On May 23, Mumbai had an 80 per cent share of the total number of cases and 89 per cent of the total deaths in the MMR region. But on June 22, the city's share in cases has come down to 68 per cent. However, it still accounts for 80 per cent of the total number of deaths in the region.
In the rest of MMR, the major chunk of cases is shared by Thane city, Navi Mumbai and Kalyan-Dombivli and the jump in numbers can be seen in Thane rural, Bhivandi- Nizampur and Mira-Bhayandar. While there has been a 2.5 fold increase in cases in Thane and Navi Mumbai over the past one month, deaths have seen almost a six-fold increase.
Bhivandi-Nizampur had 82 cases and three deaths on May 23. However, by June 22 the city's cumulative cases reached 1,177 (14-fold increase) and deaths 62. Even in Mira-Bhayandar, the death toll increased from four to 109 in just a month's time and cases went up by six folds in the same period.
Speaking about the loopholes in the region's health infrastructure, an official from the state health department said, "While Mumbai's civic body has four medical colleges and a lot of revenue to run them, other corporations can't build their own hospitals. People of the MMR region depend on Mumbai's medical facilities, but in this situation we do not have access, and hence it has exposed the poor condition of the health infrastructure in the rest of MMR."
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