Changed BMC test strategy could make number of cases in Mumbai appear artificially lower

There are two basic rules for dealing with the Wuhan Corona virus pandemic : first, the more strictly we observe the lockdown, the more we overreact, the safer we will be eventually. Second, the more boldly and honestly we face up to the bad news, the better we are prepared to fight it. It is our only way out of this nightmare.

Over the last few days, Mumbai has emerged as the greatest spot of worry for India. This was not unexpected, for the maximum city is our financial capital. In the US, the city of New York has been left similarly devastated by the virus.

In the daily war against the virus, it must be understood that the actual number of cases is not nearly as significant. What is significant is the rate at which the number of cases is increasing. “Flattening the curve”, as everyone talks about nowadays. For example, the state of New York reported over 750 deaths just yesterday. As terrifying as that may be, it represents a growth of just 7% over the number from the day before. A month ago, these numbers were much smaller, but growing at a much faster pace.

That’s why this changed test strategy from the BMC is so worrying.

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The BMC has decided that it will no longer test contacts of patients, whether high risk or low risk, unless they start showing symptoms.

As the article in Mumbai Mirror notes, the BMC’s new approach differs from the strategy of the ICMR, which advises that “asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case should be tested once between days 5 and day 14 of coming in contact.”

It is clear that this new strategy could lead to an artificial drop in the number of patients, giving a false sense of flattening the curve.

It is of course important to note that this new strategy does not mean that contacts of confirmed patients will be allowed to go around possibly infecting more people. The BMC is clear that they will be put into quarantine. But remember that the incubation period of the virus is anywhere between 5 to 14 days. Further, disturbing reports have emerged across the world, with instances of the virus taking even longer to show symptoms.

As such, putting contacts of confirmed cases into quarantine instead of testing them delays the feedback which we desperately need to be timely and precise.

On one hand, we should all understand the obvious capacity constraints under which the BMC is operating. On the other, there is room for genuine worry about the possibility of the state government using such tactics to make the numbers appear lower. After all, in the last few days, the state government has come off as almost comical in finding ways of passing the buck. Both related to the gathering of thousands of people in Bandra and the matter of certain privileged persons getting a pass to flout the lockdown. The possibility of some agencies of the state running a PR campaign with celebrities at a time like this also raises questions about priorities.

The role of the liberal media is highly suspect as well. Many celebrity journalists have appeared to be more concerned with creating the image of “best CM” for Uddhav Thackeray, rather than holding the ruling party accountable for its performance. I wonder what the liberal media reaction would have been if a BJP ruled state was the top hotspot in the country right now.

At a time like this, for the sake of Mumbai, Maharashtra and India, we can only hope that both our leaders and conscience keepers (self-appointed or otherwise) can rise above narrow political considerations. This would be an excellent time for Uddhav Thackeray to actually earn the title of “best CM” by performing on the ground. By saving Mumbai, Maharashtra and India. We all wish him well.

11 thoughts on “Changed BMC test strategy could make number of cases in Mumbai appear artificially lower

  1. Amusing that the first state to ignore Pappu’s irritating ‘test more’ chant is one where his own party is piggy-riding in power 😊 Who knows better that Pappu is not meant to be taken seriously ? 🤓

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The point of this press meet was to divert attention from the Jamaatis. It is clear to Pappu that the longer the lockdown continues, more videos will emerge of stone pelting on doctors and police.

      Even a 2nd standard kid can talk about testing, giving food to migrants etc. Good in theory. But it is the Leftist and socialist states like Delhi that are throwing out migrants. It is UP that is sheltering them.

      Like

  2. Off topic: Why with so many IT talents in India and big companies in this sector, India has not come up with its own version of Twitter?
    Twitter is controlled by a totally leftist Hinduphobic ownership/management and is actively shutting down accounts which are inconvenient to the narratives that it wants to spread around in Twitterverse.
    Why not create a India equivalent of Twitter to make Twitter irrelevant in Indian context? What does it take to create it? Why has no one attempted it in India? Are Indian IT companies only interested in service contracts?

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  3. I don’t know how big a luxury we have about testing for Coronavirus, but delaying testing BMC is merely delaying count by a few days that is all. If the person is infected but not showing symptoms will not be tested now, but a few days later will show symptoms and will be tested. What is surprising to me why some celebrities like that singer were tested five-six times? Can a patient force administration to test him or her at his/her whim?

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  4. The numbers in WB, Kerala and now Mumbai are not believable (just like the Wuhan numbers are also not believable).

    The CM of these states are also numero unos and even if the numbers spike in these states, it is all Modi/BJP’s fault because these CM’s can do no wrong. In fact they are praised by one and all.

    The states are not still tracing the Jamaatis because of vote bank politics. Both the centre and states are guilty in this regard

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  5. This will be dangerous… Asymptomatic is more dangerous as they may carry infection… My cousin who was asymptomatic tested positive got infection from her mother in law.. or may be it was reverse but we dont know… Just imagine if she was not tested she whd infected many… Close contact shd be tested

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  6. Lately, I’ve seen a lot of criticism on this forum. Let’s face it: we are all armchair crtics. We don’t face any risk of action or inaction. But we fancy ourselves to be somehow the inheritors of some kind of superior knowledge. I wrote about this a few days ago that we can scarcely begin to appreciate or understand the kind of complex decision making environment in which the leadership we criticize have to operate in: the extraordinary number of dimensions that inevitably are in play where action under extreme uncertainty is met with need for speed, resources, execution, while bowing to compromises for reasons of expediency. I received the following on social media and figured it might help us to imagine what these could be. Read on….
    ——————

    Narendra Modi is dealing with an exceptional crisis. No PM has had to face such a situation that has impacted every part of India and every aspect of life. If a family member is seriously ill we get shaken. Here, his 130 crore people are at risk.
    Some are saying lockdown should’ve been earlier. Some are saying Army should’ve been called. Some are saying intelligence failure while some say you appease. Everyone has retrospective opinions but NONE has to bear the responsibility of 130 cr people. Only he has to

    If the lockdown doesn’t succeed then he gets targeted. If it does, still he gets targeted because the economy is hit. If he didn’t call for a lockdown then he would’ve been hounded for lethargy even if it had kept the economy going. He is always at the receiving end.

    You call for a nation of 130 cr to stop work. For the poor to risk going without food. The rich cry their earnings have stopped and their lifestyles thwarted. Middle-class says ‘you’re not doing enough to help us financially.’ Again, primarily criticism.

    A 70-year old man bearing the weight of 130 cr people and expectations; many times that without flinching, without digressing, without levelling accusations at other, and without giving excuses. Yes, it is his responsibility, but he too is human and the pressure is enormous.

    Despite all that he does with single-minded concentration for the nation, something that is unparalleled in our history, he never once asked for praise. One after the other he’s dealing with India’s core issues, and then to add to the problems comes the Corona.
    This thread is simply my thoughts. I felt that if I were in his shoes I’d be terrified at the daunting problem we are facing. I’d honestly not want to be in his seat. Would you?

    I simply thought of thanking @narendramodi for his alertness, his humility, and his pragmatism 🙏🏻

    Thoughts not penned by me, but express my sentiments totally….. Sure it’s the thought on most Indian citizens right now….I stand with my country and my Prime Minister….🙏🙏🙏

    Let’s share on our walls !!

    “Copy Pasted from the wall of another Patriot. Are you one? Then do the same like me”.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This is a situation which has no ready made solutions. The problem confronting the PM Modi ji is the following:
    1. Should he take strong measures like lockdown to control the spread of virus or should he allow economic activities to go on in business as usual mode?

    2. If he chooses the lock down it will save countless number of lives which otherwise will be lost in the present. But this would also mean means of livelihood of many people who will be affected adversely and would therefore be left without any resources to fend for themselves which could in theory contribute to loss of lives in the future. Conversely, if he chooses the economy over fight against virus then countless number of lives will be lost immediately to the virus and there is no telling how such scenario would impact businesses and economy in the future.

    3. Now let us weigh in on what actions he has actually taken:

    (a) He choose to take immediate measures to control the virus by declaring lockdown for prolonged period. This measure has already resulted in controlling the spread and thereby saving precious lives which would otherwise have been lost.

    (b) By taking such a decision it meant that he choose to save lives of the people in the present now. At the same time he was clear in his thinking that the first stimulus should address the poor of the nation and announced transfer of money through DBT to give relief to the poor as well as announced distribution of free foodgrains to poor. This is to save the poor from the economic impact of the lock down.

    If he had not taken tough decision of lockdown, whose lives would have been lost the most? The very same poor people as they do not have the resources to safeguard themselves. When one criticises the economic impact of lockdown one has to ask the question – What would his/her decision be if among the people who are going to die due to the spread of virus is one from their immediate family? Would they still be prepared to accept the loss in the name of the economy?

    (c) As is always the case, life comes first before everything else. Jaan Hai to Jahan Hai. Saving lives in the present matter more than anything else. He rightfully choose this action. No leader in the world at the present time can predict with certainty the impact this crisis would leave on their citizens and their economies. So given this certainty, any action has to be address the crisis that is in front of you in the present rather than focus on imagined future impacts.

    Yes, economic impact has to be addressed but this is not the time to divert attention from the immediate task. Time for that is when in a couple of months or so more data points become available for a meaningful analysis of the impact the crisis would leave on the lives, livelihoods and the economy. Which is when one can address the specific measures needed to jump start the economy. Right now everyone talks of stimulus as a cure all remedy. Stimulus will vanish in thin air if not targeted correctly. Particularly in the Indian context, as the administration of many of such measures rests with the state governments. Yes, immediate measures like releasing IT refunds, GST refunds etc. are well known measures to provide liquidity to businesses. As we understand from reports, these are going to be announced shortly. Other targeted measures have to wait for more data points to emerge and a proper analysis of these data points to be able to devise specific measures.

    Right now even the so called experts who are prominent in the media are just gasbags who want to be seen on TV and news media to gain some cheap publicity and sensationalism. Confront them with questions about the facts that they base their predictions, they cannot provide any answers or evidence.

    To conclude, I would say that PM had a tough choice to make and he made his decisions in the best interests of the people of India about that there are no two opinions.

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    1. Actually the problem before Modi is whether to be secular or pseudo-secular

      Majority of people are obeying the lockdown, taking big economic hit and suffering, still not complaining

      Minority of pampered people are breaking the rules and making the majority sacrifice go in vain

      China would have solved this on the first day of the lockdown (maybe with some harsh measures). Central and State governments are still playing chalta hai with minority of pampered people. This includes some politicians who are brazenly conducting weddings.

      With different sets of rules for different people, the problem wont get solved

      Like

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