Five districts of Maharashtra have recorded over a 400 per cent rise in Covid-19 cases since last month. Officials said they are struggling to create adequate critical care treatment facility in these districts – Beed, Sangli, Kolhapur, Osmanabad and Nagpur – which have also shown a massive rise in the toll.
As Covid-19 spreads faster than anticipated in rural areas, data analysed shows a shift in hotspots from Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad to these five districts.
Mumbai, Thane and Pune continue to account for 57 per cent of the total burden of cases in the state but their growth has somewhat steadied. Mumbai had recorded a 28.04 per cent rise in cases between July 29 to August 29, Thane 43.8 per cent and Pune 104.3 per cent.
In a sharp contrast, Beed has shown a 603 per cent escalation in cases with 521 per cent rise in deaths, Sangli has recorded a 543.2 per cent rise in cases and 632 per cent rise in deaths. Kolhapur has recorded a 402 per cent rise in cases and 551 per cent rise in deaths.
Nagpur, meanwhile, has witnessed a 530 per cent rise in cases with 885 per cent increase in toll, forcing the state government to dispatch a team to the district bring the situation under control. From the 68 deaths due to Covid-19 until July 29, Nagpur’s toll jumped to 670 as on August 29. Its neighbouring districts have so far managed to limit the spread of the virus.
In Sangli, where the number of deaths have jumped from 55 to 403 since July 29, district officials said they are battling an acute shortage of beds for serious patients. A waiting period of one or two days has been observed in Sangli city. Private hospitals are unable operate at full capacity due to staff shortage.
“Sangli and Miraj hospitals also admit patients from Konkan and Karnataka. Therefore, we are unable to fully cater to local residents. We have enough beds for mild and moderate cases, but not for critical ones,” said Dr Ravindra Tate, Medical Health Officer in Sangli-Miraj-Kupwad Municipal City Corporation. The corporation has started a 125-bedded jumbo facility for mildly ill patients.
Kolhapur has reported 599 deaths, a jump from 92 until July 29. On Saturday, 300 people tested positive in the city alone. “People are not following preventive measures. They don’t wear masks or observe physical distancing,” said District Health Officer (DHO) Dr Yogesh Sale.
He added that people self medicate for two to three days, then visit local physicians and reach the government facility when it is too late. “An analysis of 600 deaths has found that while 54 people died within 24 hours of admission in hospital, another 150 died within two to three days of admission,” Sale said.
Kolhapur city has tied up with 33 private hospitals to scale up the number of oxygen and ICU beds.
In Osmanabad, district officials said they have managed to reduce case fatality rate from 5 per cent to 2.6 per cent but require more specialised doctors. The district has no medical college, and only eight private hospitals provide Covid-19 treatment.
DHO Dr H V Wadgave said, “We need intensivists to treat serious patients. There is a shortage of human resources.” The rural district can test up to only 200 samples a day, and has to rely on the Aurangabad laboratory for testing.
In Beed, where 100 deaths have been recorded against 3,956 new cases last month, like Osmanabad and Sangli, there is dearth of critical care facilities. Residents said monitoring of oxygen saturation levels and medical parameters in Covid care centres is poor, leading to delayed referral for hospitalisation. Currently, only one private hospital is providing Covid-19 treatment along with one medical college and civil hospital.
The district has conducted 30,000 antigen tests and found 8 per cent of them positive. “Around 10 per cent of the infected are becoming critical. We are also not getting Remdesivir and Tocilizumab easily,” said DHO Dr Radhakishan Pawar.
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