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Saturday, September 18, 2021

Pune district shows steady rise in weekly Covid positivity rate

On threshold of third wave, experts urge appropriate behaviour

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
September 8, 2021 9:59:02 pm
Pune covid situation, Pune covid news, Pune festivals gathering, Third wave, Pune third wave, Maharashtra news, Pune news, Indian expressPeople queue up to get Covid-19 tests done at a hospital in Pune. (Express Photo: Pavan Khengre/File)

Pune is among three districts whose Covid positivity rate in the week September 1-7 is more than five per cent, according to a new state health department report Wednesday. Pune’s rate is 6.3 per cent, while the other two districts are Sangli with 5.6 per cent and Ahmednagar at 5.3 per cent.

Among the policies the government had decided when rolling back Covid restrictions was that district authorities should ensure weekly positivity rates remain below five per cent. But Pune district has shown a steady rise in the rate.

In the week August 25-31, the positivity rate in Pune was 6.15 per cent as against the previous week of 5.50 per cent. Sangli, too, has shown a rise with the positivity rate being 4.02 per cent in the week August 25-31, rising to 5.6 per cent in the week September 1-7. The state’s positivity rate last week was 2.7 per cent.

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Pune civic health authorities have not ruled out the possibility of a third Covid-19 wave striking at the end of this month. State task force authorities also believe that Maharashtra is on the threshold of a third wave but say much depends on human behaviour, especially in the upcoming festive season.

Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer, said it was critical how people behave during the festive season as that will also decide the course of the pandemic. “Compared to last month, cases in the state have dropped by half to approximately 4,000 daily. So, there has not been drastic increase in cases. In the case of Pune, rural areas have a higher positivity rate and there is a fair amount of mobility and intermingling,” he said.

“There is no clear cut third wave as of today. But we are seeing ups and downs and a spike in the number of Covid cases since the unlockdown. There is definite concern with the upcoming festive season and a red alert has been sounded after the Kerala experience. The thinning tail of the second wave became a little thick again and we have observed a spike in some districts of concern. Districts of Pune, Satara, Sangli, Ahmednagar and Mumbai are in the spotlight, and so is the entire state during the festive season,” Dr Shashank Joshi, expert member with Maharashtra’s Covid task force, told The Indian Express.

“There has been a large amount of exposure to the virus, going by seropositivity and now a large vaccinated population – but the main outlier is going to be the fast spreading Delta variant. So, extreme care and caution has to be taken. Any reckless behaviour or a super spreader event can be counterproductive – we are on a threshold of a third wave…” Joshi added.

Till date, Pune city has reported nearly five lakh Covid cases while neighbouring Pimpri-Chinchwad has reported 2.7 lakh cases. Overall in Pune district, more than 11.21 lakh people have been infected with Covid-19 and 18,759 people have succumbed so far.
While Pune city is reporting an average of 250 new infections daily, overall the number of new daily Covid cases in the district is 800-1,000.

Dr Sanjeev Wavare, assistant medical officer of health, Pune Municipal Corporation, told The Indian Express that there are chances of a third wave with cities like Mumbai and Nagpur showing a similar trend. “So, we have appealed to people that masks, social distancing norms and getting tested immediately is important,” Wavare said.

Across some large hospitals in the city, there was a slight increase in the number of Covid cases, authorities said. “Our lowest count was 50 and today we have admitted 70 cases,” said Dr Dhananjay Kelkar, medical director of Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital. “It is important to understand that Covid is still lurking and preventive actions can play a huge role,” he added.

According to Dr Madhur Rao, senior deputy medical administrator at KEM hospital, there has been a slight increase in new Covid admissions in the last two-three weeks. “Our lowest numbers were 11 and now, there are 30 admissions of which ten are in the ICU,” he said. “These are not big numbers, but yes there is an increase,” Rao said, adding that there is a need to exercise caution. “People need to keep in mind that Covid is not over and done with and follow all precautions. Just because one is vaccinated does not mean he/she can walk around without a mask or have a party with more than 50 others in a closed environment,” Rao said.

Dr Subhash Salunkhe, the state’s technical advisor on Covid-19, said, “While there is no alarming rise in cases, Pune’s positivity rate needs to be taken seriously. It is important then that there should be no large gatherings during the Ganesh festival and people should worship at home.”

Role of environmental factor in spread of Covid

As the virus largely travelled with droplets, the association with absolute humidity in dry regions has serious implications, Dr Gufran Beig, founder project director of System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), told The Indian Express.

A new study, ‘Is Meteorology a Factor to Covid‐19 Spread in a Tropical Climate?’, published in Earth Systems and Environment, has said that humidity is strongly correlated with Covid-19 infections in hillocky city Pune (R=0.70), dry Delhi (R=0.50) and coastal Mumbai (R=0.46), but comparatively weak correlation is found in arid climatic city of Ahmedabad.

Dr Beig, one of the authors of the study, said they investigated the variation in meteorological parameters and relation with the spread of Covid-19 daily cases (from April 1 to September 30, 2020) in the four megacities (Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad) with different climatology. “We observed that the meteorological variables such as relative humidity and absolute humidity showed a moderate positive correlation with the daily Covid-19 cases in three cities. It is observed that Covid-19 cases were higher during monsoon season in Pune, Mumbai and Delhi as compared to the summer season,” Beig said. “Clarity in understanding the impact of seasonality will greatly help epidemiological research and in making strategies to control the pandemic in India and other tropical countries around the world,” the researchers have said.

State beats own record, vaccinates most in 1 day

Maharashtra bettered its previous best on Wednesday and administered 14.28 lakh doses of Covid-19 vaccine in a single day.
“A total of 14,28,885 vaccine doses were administered till 7.30 pm on Wednesday,” Dr Pradeep Vyas, state additional chief secretary (health), told The Indian Express.

More than 6.4 crore vaccine doses have been administered across the state, which includes more than 1.2 crore people above 45 years of age who have been fully vaccinated with both doses. More than 2.1 crore in the age group 18-44 years have got the first dose of the vaccine of which more than 29 lakh are fully vaccinated with both doses.

Mumbai has administered more than 1.04 crore vaccine doses while Pune has administered more than 87.15 lakh vaccine doses. According to Pune district health authorities, on Tuesday, a total of 1.85 lakh doses were administered in a single day.

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