MUMBAI SHOWS THE WAY
India Today|May 24, 2021
COVID MANAGEMENT
Kiran D. Tare

On the night of April 16, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), Mumbai’s apex civic body, found itself severely tested. Six hospitals under its management were in danger of running out of oxygen, putting the lives of 168 patients at risk. From 1 am that night till 5 am the next morning, under municipal commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal, the BMC worked to arrange cardiac ambulances to shift the patients to different hospitals across the city. At a routine meeting the next day, Chahal—a 1989 batch IAS official with a reputation as a tough administrator—sounded palpably relieved to announce that not a single patient had died.

Mumbai, battered by both waves of Covid 19, has of late emerged as a model of Covid management. On May 5, a Supreme Court bench of Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah observed, “The BMC is doing some great work...[Other civic authorities] can learn from them.” One mark of success is that against Mumbai’s daily oxygen need of 230 metric tons (MT), the BMC can supply up to 275 MT per day. Eff ective oxygen management is one of 25 initiatives the civic body has implemented to beef up the city’s medical infrastructure and systems. Together, these protocols make up the ‘Mumbai Covid Model’.

Since February 10, an unofficial beginning for the second wave of the pandemic, Mumbai has recorded around 361,000 new cases and 2,349 deaths. A positive note has been the city’s low death rate—at 0.6 per cent, among the lowest in the world. On April 10, Mumbai recorded its highest cumulative active case count—92,464 cases—though the number has fallen sharply since, to 45,534 on May 10. The city’s share of new cases in the national tally has fallen to less than one per cent in May 2021, as opposed to 20 per cent in May 2020.

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