Updated: January 1, 2022 11:06:24 am
While it was among the worst-hit cities in the country during the second wave of Covid-19 infections earlier this year, preparedness to tackle the situation in Pune helped keep the number of deaths relatively low in 2021.
The city is now witnessing a surge in Covid-19 cases, which is a likely indication of the beginning of the third wave. Authorities say they are on alert to contain the spread by reintroducing restrictions.
A total of 3,31,449 patients were infected with coronavirus in 2021 while 4,485 succumbed to the infection in the 12 months at a case fatality rate of 1.35 per cent. The city, despite witnessing a new peak of active cases over 50,000 at a time, was able to fair well compared to around 10 months in 2020 immediately after the outbreak of the pandemic.
On December 31, 2020, the city had registered 4,631 deaths due to Covid-19 and a total of 1,78,769 positive cases. The overall case-fatality rate was 2.59 per cent at the end of 2020, which has now dropped to 1.79 per cent in 2021.
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) started 2021 on a good note after declaring that there will be no micro containment zones in the city following a decline in Covid cases and slowly relaxed restrictions. The authorities had anticipated a peak of 19,560 active cases during the second wave, 10 per cent more than the peak of 17,781 during the first Covid wave.
However, the administration was proved wrong as the city registered 56,636 active cases on April 18 during the second wave. The second wave took the administration to task as it struggled for beds, medicines and oxygen for the patients.
Private hospitals were also roped in to treat Covid-19 patients as the government facilities fell short of beds despite the setting up of an 800-bed jumbo Covid hospital in Shivaji Nagar, a dedicated Covid hospital in Baner along with various civic hospitals across the city.
Learning from past shortcomings, the authorities continued to increase hospital infrastructure in the city by converting more civic hospitals for the treatment of Covid patients and also setting up an additional dedicated Covid hospital in Baner. The administration has also set up oxygen generation and storage plants in civic hospitals across the city while taking steps to procure necessary medicines to avoid shortage during the possible third wave.
“There is a rise in the number of Covid patients but the situation is under control and the PMC is prepared to handle the situation. It has upgraded the health infrastructure by setting up new facilities and setting up oxygen generation plants,” said Mayor Murlidhar Mohol.
The vaccination drive was implemented effectively as the PMC administered a total of 61 lakh doses so far with 35 lakh getting their first dose and 26 lakh being inoculated with both doses.
“We are preparing to start the vaccination for the age group of 15-18 years at dedicated vaccination centres from January 3 and would provide booster dose to the health staffers later,” said Suryakant Deokar, in-charge of vaccination in PMC.
The official also said that the hospitalization in the third wave is likely to be low considering the vaccination done in the city and the low severity caused due to the new virus strain.
“There is a surge in Covid cases in the city. The PMC will not be taking any chances even if the need for hospitalization of patients is expected to be low. We have prepared for handling the situation if there is an increase in the number of patients to be hospitalized,” he said.
On December 31, the city registered 412 new cases and the daily positivity rate stood at 5.93 per cent but no deaths were reported. The active case count has jumped to 1,799, which is around double the figures reported last week.
The administration has started to reintroduce restrictions by prohibiting the gathering of five and more people from 9 pm to 6 am. It has also decided to put restrictions on weddings by allowing only 50 attendees.
The same would be applicable for any gathering or programme whether social, cultural, political or religious functions. The restrictions to allow a maximum of 20 people for last rites have been reintroduced from January 1.
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