Mumbai’s local trains may be thrown open to all commuters about a fortnight after Diwali festival, if there isn’t a significant spike in Covid-19 cases, said sources.
Officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said that daily Covid-19 cases will be closely monitored for two weeks following which a final call on resuming local trains will be taken.
Instances of spike in daily cases reported in the city will further postpone resumption of the service. Daily, over 7.5 million people travel by Mumbai suburban train network which was closed in March following Covid-19 outbreak. Later, the services were started for people in essential sectors and last month, for all women commuters during non-peak hours.
Suresh Kakani, additional municipal commissioner who is in charge of health, said, “The virus has a 14-day cycle and this period will be crucial to know if there is any surge in Covid cases post-Diwali. The state government will take a final call on fully resuming local trains. Inputs based on observations with regards to starting local trains will be given to the state by all civic bodies of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.”
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On October 30, the state government had written to the general managers of both the zonal railways and had proposed three time-slots during the day for general commuters, and two time-slots for essential services staff. The government had also sought a ladies special train every hour.
Since October 24, the city has seen a downward curve of Covid with cases reporting as low as 535 in a day. Prior to this, daily cases reported were all-time high on almost every alternate day. With the coming Diwali festival, that falls on November 14, the civic body is taking various measures to avoid any further surge in cases, similar to the one following the Ganesh festival in September. Daily Covid cases in Mumbai that were reported then were above 2,000 on most of the days.
Sanjay Pattiwar, a public health expert, said, “Diwali is one of the biggest festivals in India and will be a crucial time for Covid-19 as well. Authorities should ensure that the downward trend continues till the end of November and if that happens, it’s a good sign.”
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