Mumbai is on the cusp of a surge in COVID infections as numbers witnessed a mammoth 70% leap since yesterday. Aaditya Thackeray, of the Shiv Sena-led government, spoke to civic officials to chart a course. He noted, “Last week we were reporting 150 cases per day, now we are reporting around 2,000 cases per day. Mumbai may cross 2,000 per day cases today”. 

The financial hub logged 1,377 cases in a 24-hour period, which is way higher than the previous 809 cases registered. According to data from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) the time for cases to double has dropped sharply to 841 days.

However, when Thackeray was quizzed about this being the start of the third wave, he urged everyone not to panic, but to exercise caution. The minister also seemed disinclined to label it such until the time doctors and medical experts came to a similar conclusion. 

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With the New Year festivities coming up, guidelines for public events and COVID appropriate behaviour were examined, while operational protocols for testing and tracing also underwent review.  

The Maharashtra government has announced that programs in auditoriums can be filled to 50% capacity, while open-air events can have a 25% attendance. People have been urged to celebrate at home and avoid parks and beaches. They have been advised not to crowd otherwise popular spots like Gateway of India, Marine Lines, Juhu Chowpatty and Girgaum Chowpatty.

There has been a push to vaccinate those aged 15-18 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation, in which he also announced booster doses for the elderly and frontline workers. Accordingly, Thackeray outlined the plans of vaccinating this age group in early January. Coordination with educational institutes to organize the vaccination drive for those in this bracket will take place in the next 48 hours. 

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The state is also keeping medical facilities in a state of readiness. Jumbo COVID care centres have been put on standby, while Mumbai is planning to increase focus on hospital infrastructure, oxygen and medicine supplies. Further, there will be a greater push to vaccinate both children and adults. 

Echoing Thackeray’s concern, Rajesh Tope the health minister of the state labelled the rise in fresh cases and total active cases as an ‘alarming situation’.