Pune district on Monday surpassed Mumbai in terms of the total number of Covid-19 cases, though the number of infection-related deaths reported here is significantly lower than Mumbai.
By Monday, Pune district — comprising Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), various municipal councils, three Cantonment boards and rural areas – reported 1.32 lakh cases, while Mumbai reported 1.29 lakh cases.
The district, however, has reported 3,247 deaths while Mumbai’s toll, at 7,133, is more than double of that.
Authorities in Pune attributed the higher number of cases to large-scale testing, with 8,000 to 10,000 tests conducted per day, as compared to the 6,000 to 8,000 tests conducted in Mumbai.
Pune’s testing per million population is far higher than even that of Maharashtra (23,488 tests per million population) and the nation (20,650 tests). Testing in Pune is at 52,000 tests per million till date, while Mumbai has recorded around 47,000 tests per million, as per data from the Directorate of Medical Education and Research.
The positivity rate, however, is at 22 per cent, which is slightly higher than Mumbai’s positivity rate which is 21 per cent.
Pune has seen a jump in the figures with private laboratories entering the fray. While ICMR authorsation has been given to 27 laboratories, both government and private, more units have been subsequently given the go-ahead to conduct rapid antigen tests for Covid-19.
District health officials admitted that initially, testing may have been slow, but in the last few months, Pune has been testing a minimum of 10,000 samples daily. There is an enhanced focus on testing, tracing and treating the infection, and at least 54 laboratories, including national institutes, private laboratories, hospital-attached diagnostic units and TB labs have been involved in taking up antigen-based testing.
Pune and Pimpri civic bodies have already exhausted one lakh rapid antigen testing kits and have ordered one lakh more. Authorities have decided to introduce rapid testing for rural parts of Pune by procuring 50,000 such kits.
“It is a fact that the number of infected patients in Pune has crossed Mumbai and is close to Delhi. We…. have been testing continuously. The pace of testing is proof of our consistent efforts to identify and isolate infected patients and check the spread of the infection,” said Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao.
According to the state government data, by Monday morning, Mumbai had 17,825 active patients and Pune district had 41,020 active patients, while the district administration has recorded 26,446 active patients.
“The number of active patients is increasing due to increased testing. It is not actually a cause of concern as over 86 per cent are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. The recovery percentage is also increasing fast,” said Rao.
“Our focus is on tests and more tests, trace, isolate and treat,” he added.
On the discrepancy in data about Covid-19 patients at the state and local levels, Rao said, “The discrepancy is mainly due to the entries that are yet to be made by hospitals and laboratories on various platforms. There is a time lag… we will remove that soon”.
Meanwhile, areas under the Pune Municipal Corporation, which had reported a surge in cases in July, have seen the number of such cases falling in the last 10 days. “The trend of more recovered patients than new ones will continue for the next two to three weeks… it is a good sign in PMC areas, but a cause of concern is the rising number of cases in PCMC and Pune rural areas, “ said the divisional commissioner, adding that the pandemic situation in Pimpri-Chinchwad was around four weeks behind the current situation in PMC areas, while that in rural parts of the district was four weeks behind PCMC.
Experts say the virus is following a predictable pattern that has seen a higher number of cases in urban areas, followed by the transmission in peri-urban areas.
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