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Mumbai Covid surge due to large population: Experts

Mumbai Covid surge due to large population: Experts

The recent rise in fresh Covid-19 cases in Mumbai could be due to high population density, constant movement and circulation of Omicron sub-variants but there was little reason to worry experts said, advising caution.

“Big cities remain outbreak prone due to high density and movement,” said Anurag Agrawal, former head of laboratory consortium Insacog and chair of the World Health Organization’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution.

Shahid Jameel, a leading virologist, said these ripples (not waves) are likely to continue for some time. He said a large dense population, crowded local trains and perhaps a more organised system of testing and reporting could account for the numbers going up in Mumbai. “Antibody based immunity is known to wane off in a couple of months making people vulnerable to infection but not disease,” he said.

For the first time since February, Maharashtra recorded over 1,000 daily Covid-19 cases on Wednesday. Of the 1,081 infections reported across the state, Mumbai recorded 68 per cent of the cases after 739 people tested positive, including 10 in the Dharavi slums.

Gautam Menon, professor of physics and biology at the Ashoka University, said people can get reinfected. The newer variants, BA.4 and BA.5, are even more transmissible than the BA.2 variant as well as more immune-evasive and these are likely responsible for the increase in cases, he said.

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“There is no true herd immunity and we might expect that most people will catch the disease more than once, with the severity of the disease declining in those who have been vaccinated or infected earlier. I would not put much store in rising numbers of cases. What is more important is the number of hospitalisations arising from infection and we are not seeing any sharp rise in those numbers so far,” Menon said.

Iqbal Singh Chahal, the BMC commissioner is expecting Covid-19 numbers to go down by the end of this month or beginning of July. He said Mumbai is following Delhi with month-long lag. “So, in Delhi, the cases went from 30-40 to over 2000 in 15-20 days. Now the cases have come down after about 35-40 days back to 150. A similar trend is going to happen in Mumbai. In Mumbai, I believe that by the end of this month, the numbers will start subsiding again and by the first week of July things will be normal again,” he told ET.

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