Young adults: Mumbai's new superspreaders

Young adults: Mumbai’s new superspreaders

Young adults are becoming Mumbai's super spreaders

MUMBAI — A high number of young adults is contracting the Covid-19 infection owing to relaxation of lockdown norms and starting of public transport, say experts, adding that although they remain asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, they are becoming super spreaders, giving the virus to the older, more vulnerable population.

Data from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) shows the highest number of infection rates has been recorded between the age group of 30-49 years. Around 150,000 people between the age group have contracted the infection. This is followed by the 50-69 age group, considered the most vulnerable group due to their underlying health conditions. In this category, around 128,000 people got infected with the virus.

With the rise in awareness, elderly have become more cautious and avoid travelling outside. The civic ward officers have noticed they are more careful in following Covid safety rules such as physical distancing, wearing a mask than the young adults. But the shift of the pandemic towards the younger demographic is largely contributing to the transmission.

“Infection in young adults is mild which is good for them but as many of them live with older individuals, they spread it to them who are more likely to be hospitalized and have higher fatality rate,” said Dr Gautam Bhansali, in-charge of Covid beds in private hospitals.

As per the BMC, despite having a lower infection rate compared to young adults, the fatality rate is the highest among the older. So far, 5,850 senior citizens between the age group of 50 to 69 have succumbed to the infection. Whereas only 1,428 individuals between the 30-49 age group have died because of Covid-19 in the city.

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“While doing background checks of infected people, we have found out that most of the young adults either have frequent travel history in public transport or have recently attended family functions. Later, many of those turn into carriers who end up infecting the elderly at home,” said Bhagyashree Kapse, ward officer of the R-C ward that covers Borivli.

Ward officers have observed that many are contracting infection from their infected colleagues. “Offices are getting contaminated due to overcrowding. The staff who come from far-off have to travel in buses and trains. Also, as most offices have air-conditioners, it leads to faster spread,” said assistant commissioner Vishwas Mote.

Many private firms have started to call back their employees who were earlier working from home. Due to this, many are being forced to commute daily including in trains who become a source of infection. “There has been a shift in the behaviour post lockdown relaxation. Many unknowingly become silent carriers. Unlike other cities, most of the families live in a one-BHK flat, with their elderly family members,” said Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean of BYL Nair Hospital.

Public health experts insist on maintaining Covid safety precautionary measures while travelling daily. “We have already imposed night curfew to restrict the night crowd in pubs, clubs and other socialising places. Also, we have issued new guidelines for private firms to limit the number of staffers at offices,” said Suresh Kakani, additional commissioner, BMC.

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