City’s mortality rate of 5.67% is much higher than the national average of 3.99%; just 5,310 tests daily on average in July despite no-prescription testing policy.

Even as Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Chahal has claimed that the city was seeing only 1200 Covid-19 cases a day despite the BMC’s liberal testing policy, the city’s death rate remains at a high of 5.67%. BMC data shows that despite the civic body’s claims of having 7000 beds and 250 ICU beds vacant, 60 Covid-19 patients have died each day till July 15, with 910 deaths reported in the fi rst two weeks of July.

As on July 15, the city has recorded 5,464 Covid-19 deaths, at a mortality rate of 5.67%, which is much higher than the national average of 3.99%.

Even on the testing front, the city has tested only 3,550 people per day since the pandemic broke out. So far the BMC has carried out just over 4 lakh tests till July 15. Even in July when the BMC claimed to have started universal testing and liberalised the testing regime, allowing people to get tested for Covid-19 without any prescription, only 79,663 tests were carried out till July 15 at an average of just 5,310 tests per day.

BJP MLA Ameet Satam has written to Chahal hitting out at the BMC for failing to reduce the mortality rate. “The Municipal Commissioner’s statement that the pandemic is close to being over in the city may lead to a complacent situation in the city both in the administration as well as citizens.

The BMC has conducted 4,08,320 tests till July 15 which means we have conducted a meagre 3,550 on an average daily since 22nd March. Leader of Opposition (LoP) Devendra Fadnavis has time and again stressed the need for conducting at least 10,000 tests daily when Mumbai has a capacity of conducting around 12,000 tests per day,” Satam said in his letter.

Door-to-door screening at Malad (Photo by Nilesh Wairkar)

The BMC has claimed that despite the BMC’s new universal testing policy, the number of new cases had not gone up drastically. “After our open testing policy where people can get tested without prescriptions, our testing has gone up from 4,000 to 6,800 tests per day. But our total positives have come down from 1,400 to 1,200 now. Out of these, symptomatic patients are less than 200. So we need only 200 beds every day. On Monday, after allotting beds to all, we had 7,000 covid-19 beds and 250 ICUs beds vacant,” the BMC had said in a statement.

Fadnavis had also demanded that the government should increase the number of tests being conducted four fold. “The government’s decision to restrict tests to 5,000 to 5,500 in Mumbai is responsible for the spread of the virus…,” Fadnavis said last week.

Fadnavis alleged that the deaths of at least 600 Covid-19 patients at home have not been recorded in Mumbai. “Besides, 287 deaths of Covid-19 positive deaths have been dismissed as deaths caused by other reasons… This is in violation of ICMR norms. Only in case of accidents or suicides can deaths of Covid-19 patients be categorised as caused by other reasons,” he said.

“A total of 910 deaths in the first 15 days of July is extremely dangerous and contradicts your claim of the pandemic being close to over in the city. Why is there such a mad rush for Remdesivir and Tocilizumab if the situation in the city is under control? What we are trying to do is rather than completely cleaning and eliminating the problem, we are trying to push the problem below the rug and satisfy ourselves that our floor is clean but the dirt below the rug will again resurface on the floor I.e there is a chance of a major spike again. I request you to refrain from rushing into making claims and conduct at least 8-10,000 tests daily for at least a month more and then review the situation by mid-August and then arrive at conclusions,” Satam said in his letter on Friday.

Chahal refused to comment on Mumbai Mirror’s query.

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