Amravati district registers COVID-19 surge amid decline in rest of Maharashtra; experts dismiss fears of third wave

Amravati was one of the initial districts to record a rise in COVID-19 cases in February, before the second wave began in the rest of the country

FP Staff May 19, 2021 15:51:46 IST
Amravati district registers COVID-19 surge amid decline in rest of Maharashtra; experts dismiss fears of third wave

A police official stop and check commuters during complete ongoing lockdown imposed by authorites amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, in Amravati, Maharashtra on 16 May. PTI

Even as Maharashtra is seeing a declining trend in new coronavirus cases, the Amravati districts is witnessing a resurgence in new infections for the second time this year.

However, experts have dismissed fears that the district is seeing a third wave of infections and said the rise in cases can be attributed to inadequate control measures and possibly to the new strain.

A report by the Times of India notes that the second wave of COVID-19 Maharashtra began in mid-January from Amravati, which recorded a 518 percent rise in active cases from 15 January to 15 February.

The district witnessed a decline in infections in March after the imposition of a lockdown in February.

Coronavirus cases in the district have gradually been increasing over the past month and the seven-day average has now crossed the levels recorded in February.

According to the TOI report quoted earlier, active cases grew from 4,636 on 15 April to 7,134 by the end of the month.

Maharashtra had imposed lockdown-like curbs in the state on 5 April. The curbs were further tightened on 15 April with Section 144 of the CrPc, banning assembly of five or more people, imposed in the entire state.

According to a report by The Indian Expressthe state COVID-19 data shows an increase of 148 percent in average daily cases in Amravati from 9-15 April, when 426 new cases were reported to 8-14 May, when 1,060 new cases were registered.

The report notes that in the same period, Maharashtra witnessed a fall in daily new cases from over 65,000 to 40,900.

Yavatmal and Buldhana, which also saw rise towards the end of April end and the beginning of May, have shown a declining trend since the last one week, the report notes.

With 26,616 new cases on Monday, Maharashtra reported its lowest daily count since 30 March, On the same day, Amravati reported 366 new cases while Amravati Municipal corporation recorded 74 new cases. Yavatmal and Buldhana recorded 702 and 532 new cases respectively, according to data released by the state.

Amravati district had 10,205 active cases and 1,208 deaths, according to the Times of India report.

On 18 May, Maharashtra recorded 28,438 fresh coronavirus positive cases. Amravati Municipal Corporation together with the rest of the district recorded a total of 1,042 new infections and 17 deaths. Yavatmal registered 750 new cases and 12 deaths while Buldhana saw 655 people testing positive.

Another important trend noted by the reports is that higher number of cases are now being reported from rural areas of the district than the municipal corporation. According to The Indian Express report, rural areas account for 83 per cent of fresh cases.

Civic surgeon of Amravati Dr Shyamsundar Nikam told the Times of India that 80 percent of the daily deaths in Amravati district are being reported from the rural areas.

Officials told The Indian Express that they also observed a percentage rise in deaths among younger age groups in Amravati.

Experts dismiss fears of third wave

Experts have, however, brushed off fears of a third wave in the district.  Dr Chandrakant Lahariya, medical epidemiologist and health systems expert, told The Times of India that a district can not be considered out of a wave till the positivity rate falls below five percent. He also said that if a region starts seeing a rise in cases within the ongoing wave, it implies that measures on the ground are not working and labelled it the 'M-shaped' curve.

Speaking to CNBC-TV18, Dr Shashank Joshi, a member of the Maharashtra COVID Task Force, also said there is no fear of a third wave and this is the second wave itself. He highlighted there is a variant of concern in the region (B.167.2)and suggested an increase in testing frequency in the Amravati and Buldhana and stepping of restrictions if they have been eased.

He also said the test positivity rate is being observed on a smaller denominator and that genomic sequencing is being carried out in various labs.

According to The Indian Express report quoted earlier, Amravati is sending 180 samples regularly for genome sequencing and has noted double variant B.1.617 in most samples.

Measures are also being taken at the local level, according to the report.  In a meeting with district officials on Monday, the Amravati collector decided to form village-level committees to ensure compliance with isolation norms and lockdown rules.

With inputs from PTI

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