Buffeted by covid-19 headwinds and its resources looking alarmingly thin, the Maharashtra government has so far taken over around 100 buildings from various developers in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region equalling 400,000-500,000 sq. ft for use as quarantine units.
Maharashtra began fast-tracking the task of setting up covid care facilities from the onset of the crisis. But densely populated Mumbai, home to the highest number of cases in the country, has made the fightback difficult, and infections and deaths have far outpaced critical care facilities.
Mumbai accounts for more than 62%, or 33,835, of covid cases in Maharashtra. So far the state has seen 54,758 patients, 16,954 of whom have made full recovery, leaving 36,004 active patients.
Nevertheless, the state claims to have broken the chain by meticulous contact tracing and to have increased the doubling time of infections from three days to 14.
According to government officials, the state expects to hit the 150,000 case-mark—Tuesday’s figure for the whole of India—by June and is preparing for that eventuality.
But the situation remains grim. According to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), 5% of covid-19 patients require critical care in Mumbai. With 31,972 cases reported in Mumbai till Monday, this would translate into a need for nearly 1,600 ICU beds. The municipal- and state-run hospitals account for nearly 520 ICU beds. Last week, the municipal corporation took more than 80% of beds in private hospitals in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, which netted another 645 beds, taking the total number of ICU beds capacity to 1,165, still well short of the number needed.
Authorities however see a glimmer of hope. On the one hand, the number of cases has risen from 7,626 on 1 May to 18,000 on 16 May and 32,974 on 26 May. On the other, the mortality rate is down from 7.6% in April to 3.25%. BMC commissioner I.S. Chahal on Tuesday said the daily infection numbers shouldn’t be alarming as long as the mortality rate stays low.
“In a week’s time, the death rate in Mumbai will be below 3%," he said. Officials also point out that the high number of cases in Mumbai is also because the city has done the highest number of tests in India—at 13,400 tests per million—way ahead of what other states have achieved. “But the density of population in Mumbai has proven to be a big challenge," Chahal said.
Mumbai is also creating facilities for people to self- quarantine and is planning to make available nearly 100,000 beds at centres being set up at Bandra Kurla Complex, Goregaon, Mulund, Dahisar, Wankhede Stadium and Worli NSCI.