No lockdown needed in Mumbai despite COVID surge, says Civic body chief
There is no immediate need for imposing lockdown or additional restrictions in Mumbai as the bed occupancy rate, oxygen requirement and number of COVID-19 deaths are low, municipal commissioner Iqbal Chahal said on Friday.
During the first and second wave the decision to impose lockdown was taken on the basis of case positivity rate, but this criterion cannot be applied for the third wave which started from December 21, 2021, Mr Chahal told a Marathi news channel.
No further restrictions were needed to be imposed on travel by local trains as only fully vaccinated people are being allowed to board the trains, he said.
“The criterion in the first and second wave was the positivity rate. But in this wave of Omicron variant of the virus, two new criteria should be occupancy of hospital beds and oxygen requirement,” Mr Chahal said.
The administration has so far imposed only a few restrictions such as ban on assembly of five or more persons during night time and shutting of schools in the city, he said.
Of over 20,000 people who tested positive for coronavirus in Mumbai on Thursday, only 1,180 were hospitalised and 110 were on oxygen support, the BMC chief said.
As many as 5,900 out of 35,000 hospital beds are occupied at present, he said.
"At least 83 per cent beds are currently vacant and oxygen requirement is not even 10 per cent. During the second wave, we used 235 MT oxygen (per day). Considering these factors, there is no need for lockdown in the current situation," Mr Chahal said.
“Lockdown cannot be imposed only on the basis of numbers (COVID-19 cases). It depends on how many beds are vacant in our hospitals, how much oxygen is required and how many deaths are taking place. These are more important,” he added.
He conceded that since December 21 last year the positivity rate has gone up significantly.
But in the last 16 days, the city recorded only 17 deaths. Active cases have crossed one lakh, but the death rate is only one per day, he said.
“We are keeping a close eye on the situation. I personally review things three to four times a day,” the commissioner said.
Only unvaccinated Omicron patients are seen to be requiring oxygen support, he noted.
The civic body chief, however, warned against complacency.
Omicron infection is not like flu but it is a virus, he said, urging people to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour and use masks.
When a person tests positive using a self-testing kit, the information gets updated on the ICMR's website and through it, the BMC gets information, Mr Chahal said.
On Thursday, 3,800 people in Mumbai used self-testing kits and 288 of them came out positive. This number was included in the daily tally, he said, adding that the civic body too has ramped up testing from 40,000 to 70,000 samples per day.