February 9, 2021 1:05:59 am
Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Monday held a review meeting with state officials and a central team from the National Centre for Disease Control and directed a scale up in testing for Covid-19, better clinical management and genome sequencing in nine districts. The districts of Amravati, Wardha, Yavatmal, Akola, Gadchiroli, Bhandara, Nandurbar, Ratnagiri, and Nanded have become the latest hotspots in the state, with their rural parts reporting higher than usual cases.
A three-member team from NCDC, led by director Dr Sujit Singh, visited Mumbai, Amravati, Akola, Nagpur and Yavatmal last week. The team, while reported no worrying spike, found a continued transmission and high positivity rate in rural parts of Amravati, Akola, Yavatmal and Bhandara districts.
Amravati, for instance, has recorded a rise in active cases from 375 on January 8 to 856 on February 8. In the same period, active cases slightly rose from 425 to 456 in Akola, and from 428 to 456 in Yavatmal. Nandurbar, while seeing a drop in active infections from 571 to 438, has seen a high positivity rate of over 10 per cent. Overall, 14 districts have reported a spike in active infections in the last one month.
“What is extremely worrying is the high positivity rate in these districts even at this point when cases are reducing across the state. The high positivity rate is in rural areas, not urban. Some of these districts also have cross migration with neighbouring states of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat,” a senior official who attended the meeting said.
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said genome sequencing will be undertaken of asymptomatic, moderately ill and severely ill Covid-19 patients to assess whether a viral mutation is leading to a fresh wave of cases. In Amravati, two areas are reporting clusters of cases.
The state is now going to start online training of doctors with task force members to improve clinical management of Covid-19 patients. Bhandara is especially worrying, with 7.69 per cent death rate, highest in the state at this point. “Effective use of the triad of tracking, testing and treatment must be done,” Tope said.
NCDC and the task force have discussed possible reasons for the high positivity rate in a few districts. “Either community tracing and testing is weak and we are missing several cases or there is a mutation that is responsible for high transmissibility,” said Dr Shashank Joshi, member of the state task force.
Joshi said there are 440 mutations in coronavirus detected in India, but none worrying enough like the UK or the African strain. “There is Kerala strain, too, which is responsible for a high number of cases in the south Indian state,” Joshi said. In January, Kerala reported six new mutated strains.
Another official, present at the meeting, said genome mapping in the nine districts, specially Vidarbha stretch, will help assess whether a viral mutation is responsible for the high rate of transmission that could trigger another wave. Officials said they are also looking at answers for Bhandara’s high death rate. The state task force will set up better clinical management protocols for patients to improve critical care.
“Several rural districts are not testing enough. Task force will get involved with district officials to improve contact tracing and conduct community testing. Currently, only those going to hospital with symptoms are getting tested,” an official said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines