THE PUNE district administration has collected Rs 1.1 crore in a month as penalty for not wearing masks and spitting on the roads. The amount was collected from 13 tehsils of Pune district as part of an intensive drive to curb the rising number of Covid-19 cases in rural areas.
Covid-19 cases are steadily rising in rural areas of the district, which have reported 18,213 positive cases as on Wednesday. Pune rural has recorded 525 deaths, while 12,000 patients have recovered from the viral infection. District Collector Dr Rajesh Deshmukh, who recently took charge, has toured 12 tehsils so far and said the administration had roped in police to penalise those not wearing masks or maintaining distance.
Ayush Prasad, Chief Executive Officer of Pune Zilla Parishad, told The Indian Express that in just a month, the administration had collected Rs 1.1 crore from such violators. The district collector also issued another order to authorise police to levy fine under the Epidemic Diseases Act.
Accordingly, 16,242 people across 1,408 gram panchayats were penalised while police also slapped fine against 24,013 more. A total of Rs 1.1 crore was collected within a month. Defaulters have prominently been reported from gram panchayats under Haveli, Indapur, Daund, Mulshi and Junnar.
Prasad said the penalty for not wearing mask and spitting was Rs 500 each, and depending on villages, gram panchayats also charged between Rs 100 and Rs 200 for not maintaining distance.
He also said the drive was further intensified in the last five days, and that most hotspots were across 69 gram panchayats located along the highway.
Deshmukh said the administration was focusing on increasing Covid-19 testing across rural areas, and while 7,000 tests had been conducted in the second week of August, the number doubled in the third week of August. “The aim is to test and isolate patients. The ZP has also issued several orders towards deployment of manpower and hospital management,” he added.
Influx of patients from adjoining areas of Pune
With the PMC having crossed one lakh Covid-19 cases, health authorities said there was a significant number of patients from adjoining districts of Satara, Ahmednagar and others seeking Covid treatment.
Ayush Prasad, CEO of Pune ZP, said primary and secondary care was available across health facilities in the district, but patients felt the need to access multidisciplinary doctors at private hospitals in the city. Delay in seeking treatment was among the primary causes for the increasing number of critical patients, apart from the influx of patients from rural areas around Pune, said Dr Pradeep D’Costa, chief intensivist at KEM hospital.
“We are already reaching the peak and Pune is set to witness smaller peaks in coming months,” he said, adding, “there is fear among people as they do not want to be admitted to quarantine centres, and eventually present themselves to the ICU when they have serious symptoms.”
He also said, “We are seeing patients from peripheral areas like Daund, Baramati, and other districts like Solapur.”
According to Dr Sanjay Lalwani, medical director at Bharati hospital, the medical community was overburdened and fatigued five months into the pandemic as there had been no breaks. There is an overall shortage of health workers, he said.
Dr Sanjay Patil, chairman of the action committee of the Indian Medical Association, has appealed to people to be proactive when it came to testing. The contact tracing mechanism, however, needed to be intensified to contain the spread, he said.
Central team visits Pune
There has been no let up in the number of Covid-19 cases with Pune reporting more than 3,000 cases daily. A central team of public health experts is in Pune and visited containment zones in PMC and PCMC areas apart from the war rooms set up to check the spread of Covid-19.
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