Amid emergence of new variant, eight Maharashtra districts show rise in Covid numbers

Express News Service

MUMBAI:  In Maharashtra, eight districts show high Covid-19 positivity rates, more than the state average of 2.58%. According to Maharashtra’s health department, Pune is still critical and reporting the highest positivity percentage as well as active cases.

Pune district’s weekly positivity rate is 6.15%, while it is 4.85% in Ahmednagar, 4.02% in Sangli and 3.97% in Satara. Osamanabad has reported 3.56%, Sindhudurg 3.18%, Solapur 2.60% and Ratnagiri 2.59%. All eight are above the state average of 2.58%.

There are 51,238 active cases in the state. Pune has the most of them with 13,515, which is around 26.38%. Thane, Satara and Ahmednagar are also high on active cases.

The state health department report also reveals that in the last 10 days, Pune has reported the highest number of positive cases — 9,506 out of 44,366 cases across the state.

There were 7,014 fresh cases in Ahmednagar, 5,390 in Satara, 4,692 in Solapur and 4,285 in Sangli in the same period.

In Mumbai also, positive cases are increasing, from an average of 300-350 per day to 416 on September 1. A total of 32 buildings with more than five positive cases have been sealed by the local civic body to contain the outbreak. 

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray warned that the state is the second after Kerala in terms of positive cases in India and therefore, they cannot ignore health experts who are warning of a third wave.

He said the Central government had also asked them to take precautions and not allow big gatherings during festivals like Dahi Handi and Ganesh Chaturthi.

“We request people not to fall in the trap of the Opposition who are interested doing politics. For us, lives of the people is of utmost importance,” he said.

Meanwhile, a new variant of coronavirus – C.1.2 – which has been detected in South Africa and some other countries, could be more infectious than earlier strains and may evade vaccines, said an infectious diseases consultant who is also a member of the Maharashtra COVID-19 task force on Thursday.

Dr Vasant Nagvekar, an infectious diseases consultant with a Mumbai hospital and a member of the government task force on COVID-19, said the new variant also has mutation rate that is nearly “twice as fast” as the rate of other variants.

It requires more detailed study as we know very little about it, he said.

“A new SARS-CoV-2 variant, C.1.2, just identified in South Africa and other countries with concerns that it could be more infectious and evade vaccines. What sets this variant apart is the speed at which it is mutating. This variant is changing and mutating at a rapid rate which are seen in many variants of concern and variants of interest,” he said in a statement.

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus which causes COVID-19.

Masking, vaccination and avoiding major gatherings are precautions that need to be taken, Nagvekar said.

If one experienced symptoms associated with coronavirus, then that person should immediately get tested and opt for early treatment based on diagnostic result, he said.

Nagvekar, when asked about the number of different mutations, said there are COVID-19 variants of concern – Alpha, Deta, Gamma and Delta – and variants of interest – Ela, Lita, Kappa, Lamda and Mu.

He explained that variants of concern meant they showcased genetic changes that are predicted or known to affect virus characteristics like transmissibility, disease severity, immune escape, diagnostic or therapeutic escape.

Asked about details of the new variant, Nagvekar said experts are yet to ascertain what could be the symptoms, but they claim they may be similar to COVID-19 symptoms.

Coronavirus symptoms include fever or chills, cough, runny nose, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, among others.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday said only the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines will be given to eligible beneficiaries at civic and government-run inoculation centres in the metropolis on September 4.

In a release, the civic body said in the wake of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai, a special inoculation session has been organised for people due for their second dose.

“Therefore, the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines winotll be given to anyone (at public centres) on Saturday (Sep 4) ,” the BMC stated.

Over the last two days, Mumbai has reported more than 400 daily cases.

Since January 16, when the nationwide inoculation drive was launched, as many as 95,62,080 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Mumbai.

Of these, 69,63,200 beneficiaries have been given the first dose, while 25,98,880 people have received the second shot too.

Explaining the reason behind a special session for the second dose, the civic body said the number of beneficiaries who have been fully vaccinated is low as compared to those who have received the first shot.

Currently, the number of daily COVID-19 cases is showing an upward trend and experts have predicted a third wave of the pandemic, according to the BMC.

In this backdrop, it is necessary to complete the vaccination of adult citizens and beneficiaries waiting for their second dose should take maximum advantage of the session, it added.

(With PTI Inputs)