As Maharashtra fights an upsurge in Coronavirus cases, Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said that several cases could be linked to the public movement as local trains resumed service.
“One of my hunches is that the Mumbai local trains with nearly 50 lakh persons per day were shut down between last March and January 31, and we allowed our whole railway population to board these trains only on 1 February… I have been saying that if the trains have caused any spike in cases, it will take us three weeks to understand. We are now exactly three weeks away from February 1 and some cases may have been due to the enormous train movement of Covid times,” Chahal was quoted as saying in a television interview.
Since the trains were said to be a major reason for the spurt, both the Central and Western Railways maintain they have ensured that passengers comply with Covid-19 protocols when travelling on local trains.
Sumit Thakur, CPRO Western Railways told News 18, “We have taken all precautions and the Western Railways are taking all necessary steps to control the spread of Covid-19.”
“Our train rakes are constantly being sanitised and we have a dedicated team for this. We have opened more than 300 booking counters for the convenience of travellers. As of now, 1,300 programs are running, and we are completely compliant with the state government directives,” he added.
Here’s What BMC Data Says
The BMC data reveals that one of the factors behind the increase in numbers in Mumbai is the resumption of the local train service. The regular positive cases were below 400 until 1 February, but by the end of the first week, the number had reached the 500 mark.
By February 13, 599 cases had been reported, and by February 20, Mumbai had reported 897 new cases, the highest since December of last year. The municipal authority has tightened curbs and is taking stern action against the Covid quality violators. The state government tracks the situation and, if cases continue to increase, will make a decision in the next eight days.
According to Thakur, “there is no plan by the government to limit local services. He said: “There is no proposal for services to be restricted. We will follow and report whatever instructions we obtain from the state government.”
For now, about 95% of local services have resumed Western and Central Line operations that are used by nearly 22 lakh commuters.