The pace of infections and test positivity in Maharashtra is slowing down — but it is too soon to celebrate
- The worst-hit Indian state, Maharashtra, may be on the verge of having the second wave of COVID-19 under control.
- Data shows that the number of active cases has plateaued over the last two weeks and has been on the downturn for the last two days.
- Dr Marcus Ranney opines that this is an encouraging indicator, but is in no way a signal to think that Maharasthra is out of the woods just yet.
Maharashtra is the worst-hit state in India with over 4.23 million cases in total and over 63,000 deaths, so far. In March, the state accounted for 60% of the overall cases in the country.
After lockdown-like restrictions were enforced across the state on April 4, the number of active cases in the state seems to have plateaued. “There has definitely been a mentality shift in the last 24 hours as compared to 72 hours ago when everyone was panicking. As a fraternity, we seem to feel that we’re slowly getting on top of this,” Dr Marcus Ranney, founder and chief executive of Human Edge, told Business Insider.
According to him, there’s been an uptake in the number of oxygen liquidation tanks coming in and more home concentrator devices being delivered through citizen-led efforts. Even Remdesivir is more in stock than before — but it’s way too early to celebrate.
The state’s daily increase of new cases of COVID-19 has remained in the 60,000s for the last two weeks. This is the longest period of stability since the second wave of infections took hold in February 2021. But it’s only been negative for two days, as of April 26.
“It’s way too early to celebrate, absolutely way too early.”
And the positivity rate — the number of people testing positive as a proportion of the total number of COVID-19 tests being conducted — has also only been decreasing for two days.
What will indicate Maharashtra’s exit from the second wave of COVID-19?
“A useful metric would be the time needed to get a patient a bed when required. That creates a lot of anxiety in the system,” said Ranney. According to him, if a patient doesn’t need a bed immediately, a doctor normally recommends trying to treat symptoms at home. But that also means that a bed should be available if the need arises.
Due to the shortage of beds, some doctors and patients may preemptively put in a request for a bed and clog the system even more, on the possibility that their loved one ‘may’ need to be admitted into the hospital.
According to a team of researchers from the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai (IMSC), there may be one other factor to watch as well — the transmission rate. Their data shows that Maharashtra has seen its transmission rate fall from 1.38 in mid-February to around 1.13 as of April 25, IMSC’s Sitabhra Sinha told Indian Express.
A transmission rate of 1.13 means that for every 100 COVID-19 patients, the disease is being transmitted to another 113 people. The lower the value of transmission, the slower the disease is spreading through the population.
Mumbai, in particular, has shown marked improvement with its daily case count steadily declining over the last two weeks. On April 24, the financial capital of India reported 5,867 new infections — the lowest it has been this month.
Pune, which has the second-highest number of cases in all of India, reported more than 10,000 new cases on April 24. But that’s lower than its record-high of 12,825 cases on April 17.
The central government, on Saturday, approved a supply of 4,35,000 vials of Remdesivir to Maharashtra till April 30, according to ANI.
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