Mumbai: While several states have rushed to impose night curfew, there is no night curfew in Mumbai, and restaurants, theatres and shopping malls continue to function normally. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corportaion (BMC), the city’s civic body, has no plans to impose lockdowns or new restrictions. In fact, Mumbai has not made any change to COVID-19 norms since August 15 last year.
BMC Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, who won national and international praise for the successful ‘Mumbai Model’ that showed the way for rest of India during the deadly Delta-driven second wave, explains why, in an interview with Barkha Dutta, Founder-Editor of digital platform Mojo Story.
Chahal said there was no doubt that the third wave was in, that there has been an exponential rise in COVID cases with the test positivity rate (TPR) having touched 22 per cent after staying below 1 per cent from August to December 21 last year.
But he said the silver lining was that only 5 per cent of patients were requiring hospitalisation in Mumbai, and those patients were recovering in three-five days. Besides, 91 per cent patients were asymptomatic.
Chahal said Omicron was fast replacing Delta as the dominant strain in Mumbai. Delta and Omicron were not coexisting in patients but Omicron was outpacing the deadly Delta, which was a good thing, he pointed out.
Giving numbers, he said nearly 85 per cent COVID-19 cases in Mumbai were Omicron now, and only 15-20 per cent Delta cases.
The BMC chief pointed out that Mumbai has 30,000 hospital beds and unless 20,000 of those beds were occupied by COVID patients, there was no need to panic or think of new restrictions.
He felt that a panic situation was far away, pointing to the fact that the Omicron wave in India was already in its third week and may peak soon considering that in countries like South Africa the peak passed in four-six weeks.
On why schools had been shut, he said that it has been done as a precaution. He gave the example of the US, where more people are unvaccinated but the mortality rate was higher, and the UK, where the population has been double vaccinated and also given booster doses resulting in lower mortality figures. Chahal said that as children remain unvaccinated, he didn’t want to take a chance.