Overall coronavirus cases in Maharashtra – the country’s worst-hit state where more than 15.2 lakh people have contracted COVID-19 till now – appear to be reducing, shows Maharashtra Health Ministry data. Covid cases have gone down by nearly 28 per cent in the last two weeks compared to what it was in the latter half of September, the data shows.
However, with the approaching winter months there are concerns if this trend would continue as new studies show Sars-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – is extremely stable at 20 degrees Celsius, and on smooth surfaces such as mobile phone screens and plastic banknotes.
Experts have also warned of superspreader events, like Diwali, which can reverse this trend, advising people to not let their guard down.
Stating that coronavirus was spreading in Maharashtra’s rural areas as well, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray recently warned that if people did not exercise caution Covid cases might go up indicating that he would have no option but to resort to another lockdown.
“Sometimes it does look like our cases are going down. Beds, including oxygen beds, are available. But still you have to be cautious. We have observed that people are being careless in Mumbai and elsewhere. Don’t be careless, we still need to wear masks. You have cooperated so far, and I seek your continued cooperation,” he said while addressing the state via video conferencing.
Maharashtra added almost 15,000-20,000 new cases every day in September, with Mumbai alone averaging about 2,000 positive cases in the past few weeks and over 9,400 deaths so far.
“We welcome the decline in Covid cases in Maharashtra. But, it is too early to celebrate or not to take any precautions (like wearing masks and social distancing). The upcoming festival season will see a rise in number cases,” said President of Indian Medical Association, Dr Ravi Wankhedkar.
Though these numbers have been falling in recent days, both for Maharashtra and Mumbai, state government projections indicate state’s tally could be upwards of 20 lakh by October end.
Experts have warned the peak would depend on easing of economic activities and superspreader events, such as Diwali.
“We expect a significant rise in Covid cases and a peak in the first two weeks of November,” Dr Neeraj Hatekar, professor, Mumbai University said.