Solapur district, bordering Karnataka and well-known for its textile industry, was a massive cause for concern as the Covid-19 positivity rate had climbed to well over 40 per cent in the district. In the last fortnight, however, the positivity rate has declined to 12.5 per cent. Sustained and effective contact tracing has been the key to break the transmission chain, said Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao.
According to data from Solapur district, on Tuesday, out of 38,700 reported positive cases, 31,600 have recovered. The total number of active cases in Solapur district is 4,500, while the district has reported 1,191 deaths so far. Solapur District Collector Milind Shambarkar told The Indian Express that the administration had distributed workload among three officials – taluka health officer to ensure contact tracing, block development officer to carry out surveys and identify persons with co-morbid conditions, and tehsildars.
“We had daily videoconferencing where reports were taken up and follow-ups were maintained. In Solapur city, the positivity rate has come down to 10 per cent, and teams were set up at urban public health centres to ensure contact tracing,” Shambarkar said.
The then divisional commissioner Dr Deepak Mhaisekar had intensified the contact tracing strategy as Solapur has more than two lakh labourers involved in beedi making and textile industry.
“Labourers were exposed to toxic conditions and had pre-existing lung and respiratory issues,” said Dr Pradeep Dhele, Solapur district’s civil surgeon.
Dr Dhele also said the testing capacity was increased from 90 samples daily to 600 at Solapur district, which has an estimated population of 45 lakh. Those with co-morbid conditions were identified and tested and, in rural areas, there were efforts to trace as many as 20 people if a person tested positive, he added.
According to Shambarkar, few deaths are being reported in the city and the case fatality rate has come down from 20 per cent to 3 per cent. “Still, it is a matter of concern and we have identified private hospitals as dedicated Covid hospitals and also allocated space for private doctors to set up additional dedicated Covid hospitals.” He added, “For instance, a wedding hall was given at Barshi, while at other places like Akluj and Pandharpur, private doctors have made their own set-ups in the space provided.”
Dr Sandip Holkar, a nephrologist based in Solapur, has been treating Covid patients at government as well as private hospitals. “There was an outbreak at Akalkot and most patients reported to Solapur from there. Osmanabad had another outbreak and we saw patients from there too. Patients from several adjoining areas came to Solapur and even from places closer to Sangli,” he said, adding, “however, we are now reporting vacant beds since the past few days as patients are recovering.”
Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao on Tuesday said they had observed a declining trend in Covid positivity rate in the last fortnight but cautioned against any complacency. In Pune division, too, districts that have 23 per cent positivity rate are Pune, Sangli and Kolhapur, while positivity rate is 25 per cent in Satara. In Pune division, 3.8 lakh persons have recovered from Covid-19 and there are 61,868 active cases across Pune, Satara, Sangli, Solapur and Kolhapur districts.
“We have sufficient hospital beds and, in Pune too, major hospitals have started reporting a dip in new infections,” Rao said, adding, “this has come as a relief, but we cannot be complacent.”
There was a slight drop in number of samples being tested and, as against a daily average of 14,000 tests, 12,000 had been conducted, said Pune Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao. “Laboratories are under tremendous pressure and, at certain swab testing centres and some laboratories, technicians have got infected. However, there has been a slight dip,” he said.