A decision on lockdown in Mumbai will be taken by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said as Mumbai crossed 20,000 fresh Covid cases - the threshold limit for more restrictions. The total number of fresh cases - 20,181 - is a 33 per cent spike over yesterday's figures. Four related deaths were also recorded. The financial capital had reported 15,166 cases yesterday.
Of the fresh cases detected over the last 24 hours, 85 per cent show no symptoms. But 1,170 Covid patients have been hospitalised and 106 are on oxygen support.
Sources said the issue of lockdown was discussed at a meeting between Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, the health minister, the health secretary and other officials, but no call has been taken.
Asked whether the state government would impose a lockdown, Mr Tope said, "The government is studying the Mumbai numbers very carefully and a final decision will be taken by the Chief Minister".
The health department had earlier said a lockdown, or lockdown-like restrictions, will be considered when the demand for medical oxygen crosses 800 metric tonnes per day, or more than 40 per cent of hospital beds for Covid patients are occupied. The Brihanmumbai corporation had said that it will be considered when the daily spike in cases crosses 20,000.
The big area of concern now is the rising number of doctors and health workers testing positive in the city.
Over 150 doctors in the city's King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital have contracted the virus, as have another 80 at the Sion Hospital and nearly as many at others.
Across Maharashtra, more than 260 doctors have tested positive, the Association of Resident Doctors has said.
Besides, 60 employees of the city's public transportation service also tested positive, reported news agency ANI.
Patients getting infected in this wave of the pandemic are reporting less severe symptoms, doctors have told NDTV. But the sheer number of people testing positive and requiring hospitalisation if infected with Omicron is enough to overwhelm health infrastructure.
In view of the sharp spike, the state government said it will not prioritise the genome sequencing of community samples as the exercise is failing to keep pace with the rising number of cases.
The Health Department expected the current surge in Covid cases to peak by mid-February and subside by mid-March.
Additional Chief Secretary Health Dr Pradeep Vyas has predicted an active caseload of around two lakhs by the third week of January.
Maharashtra reported a deeply worrying 36,265 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours - a 36.65 per cent increase over yesterday.