MUMBAI :Covid-19 claimed its first victim in Mumbai on Tuesday morning, prompting the government to ramp up testing and isolation facilities and take help from private hospitals and laboratories, even as it stopped short of restricting public transport.
A 63-year-old man, who had recently travelled to Dubai with his wife and son, died at Kasturba Hospital due to complications arising from the infection. “The patient had a history of chronic high blood pressure, pneumonia and inflammation of heart muscles. He was stable till Monday night and doctors tried to wean him off the ventilator. However, as compromised heart function and septicemia set in, we put him back on the ventilator. Unfortunately, he passed away this morning," Dr Daksha Shah, deputy health officer of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), told reporters. The wife of the deceased, who tested positive for the virus, is under treatment and her condition is said to be stable.
Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray reassured residents that government offices and essential services will function. Public transport, especially buses and local trains in Mumbai, will also continue to operate at full capacity. “We will review this decision in the next 3-4 days," he said after a state cabinet meeting.
The state government said it has held discussions with heads of pharmaceutical companies and banks and health experts in the state, who have agreed to cooperate in tackling the pandemic. Companies will provide medicines, masks, sanitizers, ventilators and other essential items from their CSR funds.
Shah said that a 49-year-old male, admitted on 16 March with travel history to the US, has tested positive, bringing the total number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra to 41, the highest among all states. BMC has traced four high-risk contacts of this patient, while seven low-risk secondary contacts are in home quarantine. Of the total cases, one patient continues to be critical, seven are classified as “high severity", and 32 are asymptomatic.
Mumbai is ramping up testing and isolation facilities to prepare for phase 2 of infections, Shah said. Besides, Kasturba Hospital for testing and treatment of patients and Seven Hills Hospital for isolation, a new isolation facility is now operational at HBT Trauma Care Hospital in Jogeshwari East with 20 beds. Private hospitals will soon be accredited and allowed to treat patients, with Fortis hospitals in the city the first to join the list. The administration has informed private hospitals about the treatment protocol.
Patients will be moved to private healthcare facilities if the city runs short of ventilators and critical support for patients at Kasturba Hospital, which only has four of them, Shah said. Kasturba Hospital carries out more than 130 tests a day and has the capacity to do up to 200 daily.
The person who died on Tuesday was classified as a Category A high-risk patient, displaying symptoms and with co-morbidities such as heart disease. So far, the city is testing and isolating patients based on their risk categories. Category A patients who display symptoms, Category B ones who are over 60 years of age and have underlying health conditions, and Category C patients who have travelled from countries where there has been a virus outbreak but do not yet show symptoms. The third category is advised home quarantine, while the first two are admitted to public hospitals or isolated.
Shah appealed for calm and advised residents to avoid crowded places and maintain personal hygiene practices such as frequent washing of hands.
The state government on Monday said everyone undergoing home quarantine for suspected exposure to the virus will be stamped on their left hand. At present, people arriving from virus-hit regions are being put under home quarantine as they await test results.
The state has already ordered a shutdown of schools, colleges, gyms, night clubs and spas until 31 March. All public exams and local body polls have been postponed.
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