15 months after first Covid case, Maharashtra death toll crosses 1 lakh

15 months after first Covid case, Maharashtra death toll crosses 1 lakh

Fifteen months after Maharashtra recorded its first Covid-19 case on March 9, the state on Sunday breached the 1 lakh mark in Covid-19 deaths. The state’s death toll now exceeds that of countries like Germany, Argentina, Spain and Columbia.

Maharashtra on Sunday added 618 deaths to its tally, taking the total death toll due to Covid to 1,00,130. Of the total deaths registered on Sunday, 167 were reported in the last 48 hours, 66 in the last week and 385 from the period before that.

The state recorded 49,521 deaths in 2020 since the beginning of the pandemic. In 2021, till date it has recorded 50,609 deaths. Of the deaths recorded in 2021, over half were recorded in May, with 26,521 deaths reported by the state public health department.

It had taken around 10 months for Maharashtra to cross the 50,000 mark on January 10, 2021. It has taken the state less than five months to add 50,000 more deaths this year.

While the total deaths in June (4,786) have reduced substantially from the high of April (14,164) and May (26,521), the numbers are still relatively high as there is a prolonged lag by districts in reporting their numbers. On Sunday, Pune reported 137 deaths from the period before June 1, Nagpur reported 45, Aurangabad 33, Yavatmal 31, Ahmednagar and Kolhapur 26 each and the rest split among 12 districts. Data shows Mumbai is one of the few districts that is reporting deaths in real time. On Sunday Mumbai reported the death of 20 people due to Covid-19, taking the city’s toll to 14,971.

Dr Avinash Supe, chairman of the state death audit committee, said ideally reporting of deaths must be done within 48 hours. “But the state has done better in controlling its fatality rate this year. This year the state recorded 40 lakh cases and deaths were over 50,000, last year we saw 20 lakh cases and more than 49,000 deaths,” Supe said. He said the state needs to focus on strengthening the secondary healthcare system to better deal with rural areas.

State epidemiologist Dr Pradeep Awate said it takes two to three weeks for the death curve to decline once a descent in fresh cases starts.

Maharashtra crossed its peak in the second wave on April 18, touching 68,631 cases with an active case load of over 6 lakh. The second wave plateaued longer than the first wave in 2020. Awate said the first wave saw a plateau of a fortnight when Covid-19 cases reached the peak in September. This year Maharashtra noted cases going beyond 60,000 a day for 26 days between April and May. Maharashtra is now recording 13,000-15,000 new cases daily. Its active case load is down to 1.85 lakh.

On Sunday 12,557 fresh cases were reported, taking the total caseload to 58.31 lakh. Mumbai recorded 786 cases. Maximum share of new infection is from rural parts of western Maharashtra– Kolhapur (1,152 new cases), Sangli (850 cases), Ratnagiri (777) and Sindhudurg.

In an indication of consistent reduction in infection rate, the state’s daily positivity has dipped to 5.2 per cent from 22.4 per cent a month ago, when the state was recording over 60,000 cases daily.

Maharashtra is conducting 2-2.5 lakh Covid-19 tests daily. The state task force has advised continued testing to identify asymptomatic infected cases and isolate them as the state braces for phase-wise removal of lockdown.

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