BY QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai: Exactly 90 days after Covid-19 sneaked into Maharashtra on March 9 through a Pune-based couple, coronavirus has infected a staggering 88,528 persons in the state — with the current rate of daily infections surpassing that of the United Kingdom!
With 266,598 cases, India has already overtaken Covid-19’s alleged birthplace, China (around 83,040 patients), France (150,315), Turkey (170,132), Iran (171,789), Germany (184,193), Peru (191,758), Italy (234,998) and Spain (241,550) as on June 8.
India is now just an arm’s length behind the UK current tally (total 286,198 cases), with Russia way ahead (476,658), preceded by Brazil (672,846) and the current coronavirus global headquarters, USA (1,915,712).
According to the Worldometer Covid-19 data for the past one week, the UK recorded 1,653 new cases (June 2) compared with Maharashtra’s 2,287 on that day.
Similarly, on June 3, UK notched 1,871 more patients (Maharashtra 2,560), on June 4, UK 1,805 (2,933), June 5 UK 1,650 (2,436), June 6 UK 1,557 (2,739), June 7 UK 1,326 (3,007) and June 8 UK 1,205 cases (Maharashtra 2,553 patients).
Just nine days after the first confirmed cases in Maharashtra (March 9), Covid-19 claimed its first victim in Mumbai (March 17),
In three months, the virus has devoured 3,169 people in the state, including 1,702 in the country’s commercial capital, with a dubious distinction of being “India’s corona capital”.
Since over the past fortnight, Maharashtra has been recording 75-plus fatalities, often shooting above 100, and new patients over 2K daily, with the previous single-day highest figure of 3,041 infections notched on May 24.
Despite climbing onto Covid-19 bandwagon belatedly — India’s first case was recorded on January 30 in Kerala, Maharashtra’s first case came only on the 38th day, on March 9 — but thereafter, this state quickly broke all records to grab the top slot in the country now.
In fact, for several days — around April 10 — the state had notched the highest “mortality rate” in the world, as per official figures, in terms of the number of the deaths per hundred infections, (IANS – April 14).
Due to a series of stringent measures and interventions, the state successfully tamed the virus by bringing down the death rate to 3.57 per cent — but it is still much higher than India’s mortality rate of 2.80 — while the global average stands at 5.78 per cent, today.
What started innocuously in Pune on March 9, followed by Mumbai on March 10 and Nagpur the following day — each city having an international airport — the coronavirus pandemic has today spread to all 36 districts in the state.
From just two cases on March 9, a month later (April 9), Maharashtra had shot up to 1,364 patients and 97 deaths, then (May 9) zooming to 20,228 cases and 779 fatalities. A month later today, the state’s patient tally is 88,528 (overtaking China) and deaths are 3,169, presenting a grim scenario.
As the number of patients and fatalities soar, hospitals, morgues, cemeteries or crematoria face a tough time coping with the Covid-19 rush.
There are nightmarish videos of bodies kept on beds next to patients in Sion Hospital, 2-3 patients crammed on a single bed, others lying on floors, instances of overburdened doctors or nurses reportedly abandoning their duty posts, leaving the patients at the mercy of the virus, or patients fleeing isolation centres.
Following an expose of one such incident by IANS (May 6), Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar rushed to the Sion Hospital and ordered a probe after which the Dean was shunted out.
The state government also cracked the whip by transferring the then BMC Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi, and effected a big shakeup in the civic administrative setup to combat Covid-19.
Mumbai Congress Vice-President V.P. Singh said that if India had acted in time by banning all international flights after the first positive case was detected in Kerala (January 30), the ongoing long lockdown could have been avoided.
“In the shutdown, only the poor, middle-class or migrants are suffering with little or no help from the authorities. The affluent classes stay cosy even during the shutdown, but the rest stare at grim prospects of their very survival post-lockdown,” Singh told IANS.
The virus has spared none in the state — commoners to Bollywood celebs and even two Cabinet Ministers — as it gallops at full speed and the global scientific community trudges to develop basic vaccines or medicines.
There have been some silver linings, too, with a whopping 40,975 patients fully cured and the state notching an impressive 46.28 per cent recovery rate, and over 75K beds available as on date.
Simultaneously, a whopping 591,496 people are in home or institutional quarantine and there are 3,510 containment zones across the state, as the crucial monsoon challenge lurks round the corner.