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Covid surge spreads to 28 of Maharashtra’s 36 districts

(This story originally appeared in on Feb 27, 2021)

Covid-19 cases have spread to more districts in the state over the past week. Active cases in 28 of the 36 districts in Maharashtra have seen a surge in the last two weeks, up from 21 districts about 10 days ago.

Health department data shows active cases continue to go up in newly emerging hotspots in the Vidarbha like Amravati, Akola, Buldhana, Yavatmal and Nagpur, but districts in Marathwada like Latur, Hingoli, Parbhani and Nanded are also adding large numbers.

With Vidarbha as the epicentre of the February surge, Nagpur (9,141) district has the second highest active cases after Pune (12,577).


Amravati’s weekly positivity rate highest in state at 41.5%

Nagpur has even pushed Mumbai (7,899) to the third place and Thane district to the fourth (7,276). Amravati, with 6,740 active cases, is at the fifth spot.

Active cases in these five districts account for nearly 65% of total active cases in the state. The incidence in Nagpur is particularly high for its population of 5 million when compared to Mumbai, which has a population of nearly 13 million.

The data also shows that between February 15 and 21, the highest weekly growth rate in cases was reported by Amravati (19.4%). Akola’s weekly growth rate was 10.5% and Buldhana reported a growth rate of 6.1%. All these districts are from Vidarbha.

However, the weekly positivity rate of Amravati continues to be highest at 41.5% even as Akola reported a 30.8% positivity rate.

Dr Subhash Salunkhe, an advisor to the state government, said it is expected that the virus would gradually spread to newer pockets. “At some places, the spread would be faster, while in others it would be gradual,” he said.

According to Dr Salunkhe, areas that border the districts currently reporting higher cases should closely guard their population. “For instance, Marathwada should be on guard given its proximity to districts of Vidarbha. Even places neighbouring Pune and Nashik should up their vigilance,” he added.

He said whether or not we labelled the surge as a second wave, the rise in cases could continue for the next month or two.

About Amravati’s situation, civil surgeon Dr Shyam-Sundar Nikam said the district continues to see over 700-750 new cases every day, but deaths are between 5-8 per day. “There are newer pockets emerging within the corporation areas, but not so much in rural areas of the district. While there is a lockdown, it is not as stringent as the one we had in March last year, so we continue to see the spread,” he said. The district authorities said despite the surge, over 400 of the 1,400 beds are vacant.

A state official said within Marathwada, Aurangabad has seen a jump in active cases. From February 1, when there were 347 cases, the number increased to 2,052 on Friday. “Every district has been asked to boost testing,” he said.