After being declared a hotspot of the coronavirus disease with the highest number of cases in India, Pune became the first district to cross two lakh cases on Monday, as per state government data. The total count of Covid-19 cases in Pune is more than many states, except Gujarat, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
There is, however, a discrepancy between numbers released by the state government and the district administration, which has consistently reported relatively lower numbers for the city. While the district administration put the total number of infections in the city at 1,97,286, the state bulletin showed that this number had already crossed 2.03 lakh on Monday.
According to a projection by a central team that recently visited the city, the number of infected people in Pune was likely to go up to 2.43 lakh by September 21.
The spread of the infection is showing no signs of slowing down as 4,429 new cases were recorded on Sunday, taking the total count to 1,99,303. This number crossed two lakh as 3,262 new cases were added on Monday. At the time of going to press, data on fresh cases from PMC and PCMC were available. Data on new cases from Pune rural, however, was unavailable.
The district crossed the one-lakh mark on August 5 and in a month’s time the count has doubled to be the highest in any district in the country. On July 18, the number of infected patients crossed 50,000.
The district administration has attributed the high total to increased testing, with rapid antigen tests being rigorously conducted by PMC, which crossed the one-lakh patient count, PCMC and Pune rural.
The mortality rate, however, is slowly dropping and is at 2.2 per cent at present, while the state’s is 2.9 per cent and country’s 1.72 per cent. The administration is focusing on reducing deaths than containing the spread of the infection. The state government recently started two jumbo facilities for Covid treatment but their functioning has been embroiled in a controversy with patients complaining of improper treatment.
The administration claimed to have intensified contact tracing, but the situation on the ground seems different. “The number of new cases is increasing at least by 1,000 a day and it is practically impossible to trace contacts of the infected person. It is being continued half-heartedly only for the sake of senior officers,” said civic staff.
The civic administration is recommending home isolation for patients with mild symptoms or no symptoms, but almost half of the active cases are at home. Guidelines to civic staff for visiting patients on a regular basis to monitor their health are being rarely followed.
“There are phone calls from the civic staff enquiring about the health of a patient in home isolation, but there is no visits by civic staff,” said a patient who recently recovered at home.
The PMC is redefining containment zones every month after reviewing the situation of an area. Police barricade the area to restrict movement of public, but there is no one to monitor the same.
The mandatory use of mask is neither strictly followed nor enforced. The PMC has given powers to deputy engineer, junior engineer, health inspector, encroachment inspector, maintenance surveyor, and office superintendent to penalise violators Rs 500 each for not wearing masks.
“We have given powers to civic staff to penalise those not wearing mask at public places, private or government offices,” said Municipal Commissioner Vikram Kumar.
Also, the penalty for spitting in public places has been increased to Rs 1,000 with the local police and civic staff empowered to enforce it, he added.
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