Continuing the upward trend of fresh covid cases, Mumbai on Saturday reported 6,347 fresh Covid cases, the municipality said. Out of these new cases, around 5,712 are asymptomatic. This may be an indication of the spread of the Omicron variant, which is spreading fast without causing severe illness. On Friday, Mumbai recorded 5,428 fresh cases; on Thursday, the tally was 3,555.
The surge in cases in the country’s financial capital adds to growing panic surrounding the Omicron variant. It was the worst-affected city for large parts of the second wave. It was present in over half of 282 samples tested at one lab, Mumbai authorities said yesterday.
The rapid increase in Covid cases in the city and across Maharashtra has triggered a number of restrictions on movement and gatherings, including 5 pm – 5 am night curfews at beaches and parks. Mumbai Police has also banned large gatherings till January 15.
Fearing another avalanche of Covid cases, the city’s civic body – the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) – has reactivated its ward-level ‘war rooms’ to tackle the brewing crisis.
On Thursday Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray met with the state’s Covid task force. Between them, Omicron one of the points which they discussed – the variant believed to be behind this surge in infections.
The Covid situation of Maharashtra, propelled by Omicron cases, has brought back talks of lockdown, while several restrictions have already been imposed in the state. Health minister Rajesh Tope on Saturday said lockdown is not under discussion currently.
“Decision of lockdown is not under discussion currently. The government will take decisions about restrictions by taking into consideration the case positivity rate, hospital bed occupancy, and oxygen consumption. If the daily (medical) oxygen requirement crosses 700 metric tons, then the state will go into lockdown automatically,” the health minister said.
On Friday, Maharashtra minister Vijay Wadettiwar said the stage of lockdown is approaching, but the chief minister will take a decision on when to impose it.
About 10 ministers of the state and 20 MLAs have been infected with Covid. The deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said this on Saturday. “We cut short the Assembly session recently. So far, over 10 ministers and over 20 MLAs have tested positive for coronavirus. Everybody wants to be part of the celebrations of New Year, birthdays, and other occasions. Keep in mind that the new variant (Omicron) spreads fast and hence caution is needed. PM Narendra Modi has appealed and some states have announced a night curfew. In Maharashtra, cases are increasing in Mumbai and Pune,” Pawar said.
Stricter Covid rules and regulations on movement, vaccination, and travel are likely. This is particularly since Maharashtra already has 454 confirmed Omicron Covid cases – the most of any state. A state-wide lockdown has not been ruled out. This happened despite the negative impact on the Maharashtra economy and how that could affect the country.