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No reason for panic over Zika virus infection, says Rajesh Tope

A three-member central team of experts met key officials on Wednesday in Pune and will conduct a field visit at Belsar village in Purandar tehsil, Pune district, on Thursday, where the first case of Zika virus was detected in a 50-year-old woman.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
Updated: August 5, 2021 8:59:43 am
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope. (File Photo)

STATE HEALTH minister Rajesh Tope has said there is no reason for panic over Zika virus infection. A three-member central team of experts met key officials on Wednesday in Pune and will conduct a field visit at Belsar village in Purandar tehsil, Pune district, on Thursday, where the first case of Zika virus was detected in a 50-year-old woman.

According to state health department data, from among 152 serum samples sent to National Institute of Virology (NIV), at least 63 were detected with chikungunya, five with dengue and 15 with co-infection of dengue and chikungunya. Tope said no new Zika virus case has been found.

The central team of experts held meetings with state health department officials, apart from Pune district collector and scientists at NIV to get an account of the control measures taken.

Among reasons for increased Aedes aegypti larval density at Belsar village is the old water supply scheme. Due to technical glitches, village residents get tap water once in three days. Due to this, many store several water for domestic use. Most water containers, however, are not covered. Again, many households have underground tanks for water storage. These tanks are also not covered, state surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate told The Indian Express.

Belsar is a small village with an approximate population of 3,500 in Purandar tehsil of Pune district and is located about 45 km from Pune city. Belsar has a primary health centre (PHC), which is one of the five PHCs of Purandar tehsil. The migration pattern of these villages was also explained to the central team experts.

While several meetings between personnel from Belsar PHC and taluka health officer were also conducted to prepare a roadmap to contain this outbreak, state entomologist Dr Mahendra Jagtap said preventive measures were immediately taken, such as emptying containers with presence of Aedes aegypti larvae, fogging among others.

State officials said apart from biological and personal protective methods being used for better vector management, a survey of pregnant women was also underway with a focus on microcephaly surveillance.

More vaccine doses for districts with higher positivity

Tope further said larger number of vaccine doses will be given to districts with higher Covid positivity rate. There are four districts of concern — Pune, Satara, Sangli and Kolhapur — where the positivity rate is above the state average. “We are following mandatory protocol of track, test and treat. However, instructions have been issued to provide a larger number of vaccine doses in districts with high Covid positivity rate,” he said.

Tope also said priority was being given to those who required a second dose. He said while it could not be predicted when the third wave will hit the state, people must not lower their guard, especially with upcoming festivals and Covid restrictions being relaxed in 25 districts.

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