Maharashtra’s tally of coronavirus cases crossed 10 lakh on Friday with a record spike of 24,886 new ones, said a health official. While the tally has reached 10,15,681, the death toll has touched 28,724, with 393 new fatalities reported across the state.
The latest figures have put the state on par with Russia in the pandemic, stifling India’s attempts to turn around an economic plummet. Cases in the western state, home to financial capital Mumbai, passed 10 lakh as infections have been rising some 20,000 a day recently. If it were a country, the state would now rival Russia for the fourth-highest caseload globally.
The number of recovered patients increased to 7,15,023, with 14,308 discharged from hospitals in the last 24 hours. Maharashtra’s recovery rate of patients is 70.4% and fatality rate is 2.83%. So far 50.72 lakh COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the state. The positivity rate of the tests is 20% in the state.
16,47,742 people are in home quarantine and 38,487 in institutional quarantine. On Friday, the highest number of 2,367 cases was recorded in Pune city, followed by 2,191 in Mumbai and 1,555 in Pune district.
The highest — 44 deaths — was reported in Mumbai, followed by 43 in Nagpur city and 29 in Pune city. Of the 2,71,566 active cases in Maharashtra, the highest 72,835 cases are in Pune district.
“Maharashtra accounts for approximately 15% of India’s GDP. Unless Maharashtra gets back on its feet, India’s chances for an economic recovery are bleak," said Reuben Abraham, head of IDFC Institute, a policy think-tank.
Authorities in Maharashtra are unable to ease many restrictions in the state. Public transport, malls and other businesses remain depressed even as the rest of India slowly gets back to business. That is unlikely to change soon for a state that is home to several major industries, including its three most valuable companies: Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Reliance Industries Ltd and HDFC Bank.
While cities around India have resumed commuter rail, Maharashtra has held off. In Mumbai - where packed trains define the workday - suburban train service has been halted since March for all but essential workers.
Resuming public transport in the city this month would lead to a second wave, which would be “difficult to manage", says a research paper submitted to Mumbai authorities this week.
Indeed, Maharashtra’s partial reopening of factories in recent months, local festivals and lockdown fatigue help to explain the state’s COVID-19 surge, local health officials have said.
“People have tired after spending months at home and they’re stepping out despite knowing they could get infected," said Subhash Chavhan, a surgeon in Satara district. “They’re no longer taking coronavirus seriously."
The state’s initial reopening, starting in July, accelerated the spread to previously less-hit rural areas, said Dr Pradip Awate, Maharashtra’s disease surveillance officer.
(With inputs from PTI and Reuters)