Mumbai after peak of third wave of covid, schools could reopen on January 27, says BMC commissioner

Amid the ongoing third wave, driven by the highly infectious variant of Omicron, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said on Tuesday that Mumbai had passed the peak and the daily number of Covid-19 cases is expected to drop further over the next few days. “We plan to reopen schools on January 27,” he said.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Chahal said the third wave peaked around January 10. Over the past week, the city has reported a sharp drop in daily cases. “We expect the numbers to drop to levels of 1,000 to 2,000 by January 26, and we now expect to reopen schools by January 27,” Chahal said.

Mumbai reported its highest single-day spike of 20,971 cases at 28.9% positivity rate on January 7, after its second wave peak of 11,573 cases at 23% positivity on April 3 last year. However, the number of deaths and patients requiring hospitalization was considerably lower this time around.

Over the past week, the city’s daily case count has seen a steady decline. It fell to 10,661 on Saturday; 7,895 Sunday; and 5,956 on Monday. On Tuesday, 6,149 new cases were reported. The positivity rate also fell from a peak of 29.9% on January 6 to 12.9% on Tuesday.

Although Mumbai has seen the biggest decline, it is not the only one. A similar trend is also visible in a few other cities, including Delhi and Kolkata. These cities were the first to show a sharp increase in cases during the third wave and now appear to be on a downward curve.

Just six days ago Delhi had recorded a new all-time high, detecting 28,867 cases. It went into a steady and rapid decline thereafter. The capital reported 11,684 cases on Tuesday.

In Kolkata, the number of cases has increased by more than double its second wave peak – 8,712 cases on January 9 from 3,990 on May 23 last year. But it fell rapidly thereafter and on Tuesday the city reported just 2,205 cases.

Chennai is also showing distinct signs of slowing down, although cases have not started to decline. The city has been reporting between 8,000 and 9,000 cases for six days now.

But there are also cities like Bengaluru and Pune that are seeing a rapid increase in numbers. Bengaluru reported 25,595 cases on Tuesday, the highest so far in the third wave, and only slightly below its all-time peak of 26,756 recorded on April 30 last year. Similarly, Pune also reported the highest number of cases in this wave on Tuesday – its 11,784 cases on Tuesday are lower than the second wave peak of 12,825 cases.

Although the daily number of cases in Mumbai has fallen, critics have pointed out that testing has declined over the past 10 days. From 72,442 samples on January 7, tests fell to 47,700 on Tuesday.

However, Chahal said tests are being carried out as requested. “We do testing for everyone who comes in for testing and that number itself has gone down,” he said.

Another senior official said only around 15% of beds in BMC-run hospitals and jumbo Covid facilities were currently occupied.

While saying the BMC was ready to handle around 40,000 to 50,000 cases per day, Additional City Commissioner Suresh Kakani said he was relieved that the daily tally and positivity rate had dropped sharply in the past few days.

Kakani was also confident the third wave was now under control, but warned people should not let their guard down. “People should continue to wear masks and follow appropriate Covid behavior at all times,” he said.

Schools in Maharashtra started offline lessons for all grades from December 15 last year. Most schools started their Christmas holidays from December 23 and were due to resume classes on January 3. But, amid rising cases, BMC has asked all schools to return to online mode until January 31. On January 8, as the state government announced new restrictions. , all schools have been asked not to hold offline lessons until February 15.

(With Amitabh Sinha in Pune)

Carol N. Valencia