Covid-19 cases rise seven-fold in Amravati

With 430 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, Amravati corporation joined Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur in its highest single day case record this year. Until a month ago, Amravati city was recording less than 70 cases a day. In a month, the spike in cases in the entire district is fastest across the state worrying officials of an unusual transmission pattern.

The district has sent four samples from Covid-19 positive persons for a genome sequencing to look for UK variant or African variant, or to check if it is an entirely new mutation. The reports from National Institute of Virology are awaited. Five more samples will be collected on Monday for genome sequencing.

“We sent one sample of a Covid-19 case who returned from UK a month ago. It tested negative for UK variant. But in another case a woman who returned from Africa and tested positive went absconding. We took police’s help to trace her but she had switched off her phone. Her samples could never be collected. We still don’t know if she followed isolation protocol,” said district civil surgeon Dr Shyamsunder Nikam.

What has worried district officials is that entire families are testing positive for Covid-19, although with mild symptoms. “Earlier few in a family would test positive. The transmissibility of virus has increased,” Nikam added.

Collector Shailesh Nawal reimposed night curfew under Section 144 (IPC) until February 28 and restricted movement of more than a group of four people at night. A special squad has been formed to inspect violation of masks in public places and community engagement has begun to raise awareness on physical distancing. The district has decided to get stricter with wedding functions; not more than 50 can be invited for a wedding. Schools have been shut except for classes tenth and twelfth. “We have made all Covid-19 related protocol stringent and active community engagement has been undertaken to ensure people wear mask in public places,” he said.

The district’s active case load rose to 2,828, swelling up over seven times from 399 active cases until January 14. District officials said they are battling a major hesitancy in wearing mask and physical distancing. Two regions, Achalpur and Amravati city, are the new hotspots followed by Morchi and Tirsa areas in rural parts of the district. Recently 12 nurses, who had received their first vaccine shot, tested positive for Covid-19 in Amravati civil hospital. They all live together in hostel.

Dilip Ranmale, district health officer, said Amravati currently has a positivity rate of 12.4 per cent; positivity rate is number of people testing positive against total tests. “But all cases are mild, our deaths are still not surging,” he said. Eight other districts, most in Vidarbha, are showing a surge in positivity rate too. In contrast Mumbai has a positivity rate below 5 per cent.

On Sunday Amravati reported four deaths, taking its toll to 411. Mumbai recorded 645 new cases, Pune 353, and Nagpur 437. In Mumbai, the reopening of local trains is suspected to have led to spike in cases, from 300-400 to now 500-600 since last three days. There is no corresponding rise in fatalities.