The Pune district administration has stepped up containment measures in rural areas after a surge of Covid-19 cases here, especially in areas that are right outside city limits and are densely populated. Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said he has directed officials in rural areas to declare an entire village as a ‘containment zone’ if five or more cases are detected in the jurisdiction of a Gram Panchayat.
Earlier, only a single lane or cluster of houses was notified as a containment area,while the rest of the village could go on with its business.
“The decision to put the entire village in ‘containment’ if five or more cases are detected has been taken in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research and the central government. So far, we have avoided doing that so that the move doesn’t affect the rest of the residents. But it has been observed that in rural areas, simple and much-needed measures such as wearing of masks and avoiding overcrowding during weddings are not being followed. To ensure compliance, we are also going to form ‘flying squads’, which will penalise those violating instructions,” said Ram.
So far, over 2,500 Covid-19 cases have been detected in rural areas of the district, with Haveli, Junnar, Mulshi and Shirur among the worst-hit blocks.
“In the last 20 days, the number of cases in rural areas has gone up very fast. The maximum cases in rural areas are in Haveli, 827. The residential pattern in these areas is identical to urban areas, with highrises and housing societies,” said Ram.
He added, “In case of cities, the Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad municipal commissioners will have to take the decision. Since cases are rising in urban areas also, there is a need to increase the size of the containment zones in PMC and PCMC limits”.
But PCMC commissioner Shravan Hardikar said, “We are going for micro containment zones, but in our case, there could be one or multiple micro containment zones. It depends on the high-risk contacts of the positive patient”.
Pimpri-Chinchwad has nearly 400 containment zones, four times the number of such zones in Pune Municipal Corporation.
Pune Municipal Commisisoner Shekhar Gaikwad also said he was in support of micro containment zones, rather than larger ones. “Micro containment zones do not bring lives of other people to a halt. There was already a complete lockdown of three months and by going for bigger containment zones, we can’t lock down the city again.”
The PMC chief said in rural areas of the district, lockdown of entire villages was a feasible option. “But in cities, given the congested nature of suburbs and the population density, it is practically not possible to lock down a huge area,” he said.
When told about the PMC and PCMC’s stand, the district collector said, “Let them not agree with me… but I think if micro containment zones are not helping in controlling the rise in cases, we should go for bigger containment zones… I favour bigger containment zones like an entire village so that the infection does not spread to nearby villages or areas.”
ZP to hire more medical staff
The Pune Zilla Parishad is also hiring more medical staffers to deal with the “next wave” of the pandemic. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ayush Prasad said the ZP was hiring 1,385 medical and paramedical staffers. “We have enough personnel to deal with the ongoing situation. The additional recruitment will be for the next wave of the pandemic being predicted by the experts,” said Prasad.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines