Covid-19: At 12%, Maharashtra’s low recovery rate is intriguing, say health experts

Aerial view of Dharavi in Mumbai (TOI Photo)
MUMBAI: Amid the daily spikes in Covid-19 cases and deaths, there has been some hopeful surge in recoveries too. Around 12% of patients in the state and 13% in the city have been discharged from hospitals over the past month. However, experts wonder if the numbers are good enough since southern counterparts, like Kerala and Karnataka, have seen 64% and 26% recovery among their patients. India’s recovery rate, too, has steadily risen to around 14% in past one week.
Of the 4,666 patients in the state, 572 have recovered as of Monday, said officials. In Mumbai, the BMC said that 394 of the 3,090 affected patients have been discharged from hospitals. Yet, experts have found the rate of recovery a tad slower and even intriguing as over 72% of those infected in the state are below 50 years. To add to this, 65%-70% of the patients are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms and less than 5% are critical, which would warrant a long hospital stay.
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A senior public hospital doctor told TOI that recovery involves epidemiology, biology and some bureaucracy too. “While there is some clarity about the first two, it’s bureaucracy that could be pulling down the state’s recovery numbers. A patient can be discharged only after there are two consecutive negative reports from samples taken 24 hours apart. In Mumbai particularly, the reports don’t come before 3-4 days, which is delaying discharges,” the doctor said. He added that Mumbai’s numbers could be dragging down Maharashtra’s as other parts of the state are not doing so badly.
Within Maharashtra, Pune has had the lowest recovery rate at 9%. In comparison, Sangli has 96%, Ahmednagar 68% and Nagpur 21%. “If we remove Mumbai from Maharashtra’s equation, the overall picture would be different. Mumbai, with its highest density, poses a challenge like no other city,” said infectious disease expert Dr Tanu Singhal, who consults with Kokilaben Hospital. She said the median duration of hospitalisations is 10-11 days. Several doctors said in critical cases, the duration of hospitalisation can stretch up to 21 days. “We have also seen cases where swabs have come positive for up to 20 days,” Dr Singhal said.
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In Maharashtra, the first 12 patients were discharged on March 25, about 16 days after the first two positive cases were detected in the state on March 9. One of the city patients, however, said recovery took mu-ch longer as he battled weakness and stomach problems after a week of getting discharg-ed. “I was discharged in 16 days but took longer to recover entirely,” said the senior citizen.
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Dr Sadhana Tayade of state public health department said Maharashtra shouldn’t be compared to Kerala as they had started reporting cases at least a month before. “We are in the sixth week and are seeing positive cases in big numbers, but people are going home too. We also have a big share of people with comorbidities, like diabetes, testing positive.” An average of 20-30 people are being discharged every day for 200-300 new admissions in the state.
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