Mumbai reported 15 COVID-19 deaths on April 27, taking the total to 219, the most deaths in the country compared to any other city or state.

The city, home to over 12.8 million people, now accounts for nearly three in five (59%) deaths in the state and nearly one in four (23%) deaths in the country. COVID-19 deaths in Mumbai crossed the 200 mark on April 26. It had taken 28 days for the city to report its first 100 deaths, while the next 100 were reported in 14 days.

Over 80% of COVID-19 deaths in Mumbai are due to comorbidities, Daksha Shah, deputy executive health officer with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), told IndiaSpend. “Hypertension and diabetes stand out as the most common comorbidities in COVID-19 patients, many times having presence of two or three comorbidities together in a single case. Comorbidities increase the risk in patients with COVID-19, especially the ones who do not maintain their blood sugar and pressure levels,” she said.

“It is difficult to pick one cause for the reason of increasing deaths,” Om Shrivastava, infectious diseases specialist at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai, told us. “Apart from comorbidities, there are other causes and it is a complex mechanism which mainly depends on the immune system of the patient,” he said.

Healthcare workers are conducting a house-to-house survey for comorbid and elderly people in the community, Shah said. Through this survey, “we enquire whether they are taking their routine medicines on time and request family members to buy medicines from nearby dispensaries, encouraging the elderly to stay at home,” she added. “If anybody is found to have the mildest of symptoms, we are planning to check their oxygen levels with an oximeter and they will be referred to a nearby centre for treatment. In addition to this, we are setting more COVID-19 dedicated hospitals and medical centres.”

The civic body is also planning to start a 1,200-bed facility to be called the Dedicated Corona Health Centre. Of these, 1,000 beds will have oxygen support, an official statement said on April 27.

Further, “with ongoing training, we have started plasma therapy and we are hopeful that it will work”, Shah said. “We have already administered the therapy on one patient in Mumbai. Here, the blood group has to match and eligible recipients will receive it based on clinical criteria. An advanced plasma unit has been installed at Nair Hospital and we are motivating discharged patients to donate their plasma so that it can be used to treat other patients,” she said.

Of the 15 deaths on April 27, 10 had comorbidities, the official release said. Likewise, on April 12, the day the most deaths (16) in a single day were reported, 15 were said to be due to comorbidities and one due to age-related factors. Mumbai’s first COVID-19 death, on March 17, was also of a 63-year-old man, returned from Dubai, who had a ‘chronic history’ of high-blood pressure, pneumonia and inflammation of heart muscles.

Since then, the city has reported nearly five deaths per day, on average. Over the last 10 days to April 27, the city has seen a 75% increase in the number of deaths from 125 as of April 18. The number of reported cases has increased by 123% from 2,509 cases as of April 18, to 5,589 cases as of April 27.

(Mallapur is a senior analyst and Jacob an intern with IndiaSpend.)