‘Pune metropolis’s Covid-19 state of affairs to enhance quickly’
Pune’s six month battle with the Covid-19 pandemic could turn around soon. The city has emerged as the Covid capital of the country, with the highest number of cases at 2,93,064, accounting for 4.7% of the total cases in India.
According to Sudhir Mehta, lead and coordinator of the Pune Platform for Covid-19 Response (PPCR), for the first time in the last six months, the number of critical cases are going down.
Pune was reporting 80-90 deaths per day and this has now halved, Mehta said while speaking on ‘Pune’s War Against Covid-19: Civil Society Perspectives’ organised by the Pune International Centre. The city’s case fatality ratio was at 1.98% compared to 2.65% in Maharashtra, he said.
According to CPC Analytics, Pune’s critical cases have stabilised to 5.5% compared to the high of 10% it had hit before.
Mehta pointed out that all the major pandemics to hit the world had also affected Pune severely from the plague 100 years ago to the swine flu in 2008 and now Covid-19.
“Pune city may have reached the peak but cases in rural Pune have increased so we remain cautiously optimistic”, Mehta said. Around 20% to 30% of the new cases were coming from neighbouring areas, he added.
There had been a surge in cases during the last two months in rural areas but hospital infrastructure to deal with it was missing in these places and there was an urgent need to upgrade health infrastructure there, Mehta said.
The city is conducting 14,000 tests per day and needs to take this up to 50,000 tests per day for early detection and treatment to reduce deaths, Mehta suggested.
Patients in Pune have died within seven days of admission while the average for rest of the country was 14 days, indicating late detection, he said. Pune’s Covid positivity rate was at 25% compared to the 5% positivity levels recommended by the WHO and this needs to be brought down, he said.
Mahesh Zagade, former principal secretary, government of Maharashtra, said the war against Covid was being fought without key health officials in place and because of neglecting investments in the health sector. The municipal corporation had not appointed a chief medical officer since 2011, three posts for deputy medical officers were vacant for nine years while 44% of the posts at the medical superintendent levels and below were not filled, Zagade said.
The Pune district administration has blamed 10-day Ganesh festival celebrations for the surge in cases in early September and these cases have now come down. Fearing a similar surge in the coming festival season, the administration has urged for muted celebrations of Dussehra and Diwali festivals and also avoiding parties as well as family gatherings. The city currently has 21,068 hospital beds available, out of which 9,348 were vacant.
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