Almost half of the patients who tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Maharashtra are in the 31-50 age group, shows an analysis of the first 122 patients prepared by the state department of medical education.
The Covid-19 outbreak – which started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 – is still an “imported” disease in Maharashtra, with 66% of the patients having an international travel history. Most of them had traveled from the UAE and the US, followed by Saudi Arabia, and the UK. Another 29% of the patients came in contact with the affected travelers. The contact and travel history of seven people couldn’t be conclusively established,according to the analysis. Among travellers, a big chunk of cases have come from the UAE. In fact, the state’s index patients were from a group of 40 who had travelled to Dubai and Abu Dhabi on a six-day trip. At least 15 of the group members have tested positive so far.
This is the first such analysis done by the state and it shows that 16 patients are over 60, including three who are over 70. The positive patients also include 10 who are under 20 years (two of them are under 10). The state has registered 130 positive cases and five deaths as of Thursday.
Senior state officials said the analysis held no surprises and reflects the trend across the world. “People in the 30-50 age group are the ones who travel abroad for work, and are predictably the largest group in Maharashtra’s Covid-19 patient pool so far. So mobility is clearly the big factor here,’’ said Dr TP Lahane, who heads the Directorate of Medical Education and Research.
Dr Shashank Joshi, dean of the Indian College of Physicians, said the 31-50 age group have emerged as the “superspreaders” across the world. “They get infected and spread it within the community. It is the senior citizen group we need to focus on as they suffer high mortality,” he said.
Studies emerging from China, Italy and the US — some of the countries worst affected by the pandemic — have shown that the majority of patients are men. In Maharashtra, too, only 31% of the patients are women.
“The week-wise graph of the number of cases shows that India has entered the crucial phase. Into the eighth week of the epidemic, we have 600 cases but the experience in other countries shows that this is where the exponential rise occurs,” said a senior state health official. Mumbai, expectedly, has emerged as the district with the highest number of cases. “That was bound to happen. The city is a hub of travellers. That's all the reason why testing should be ramped up in a big way here,” said a senior infectious disease expert, appreciating the state government’s efforts to announce the lockdown even before the Centre took that decision.