With 1,931 new cases on Monday, Pune has now overtaken Delhi to become the city with the maximum number of people infected with the novel coronavirus. Monday’s addition took Pune’s total case count to 1,75,105, leaving behind Delhi’s 1,74,748, as per figures from the state Public Health department till August 31.
Pune already has the maximum number of active cases in the country. It currently has 52,172 patients, much more than about 20,000 in Mumbai and about 15,000 in Delhi. As many as 4,069 people have succumbed to the infection in the district, while 1,18,324 infected people have recovered from the disease so far. (Follow Coronavirus LIVE UPDATES here)
The Pune district administration has been struggling to check the spread of Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic in March, when it registered the first patient of the state. The surge has put the administration on its toes, but its efforts have not yielded desired results.
Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar, who is also the guardian minister of the district, has been reviewing the situation weekly, and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had to come down all the way to pull up the administration, and urge it to check the spread of the infection.
The administrative heads of the Pune divisional commissionerate, Pune district collectorate and Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) have been changed in this period due to various reasons.
The PMC has been the most affected of the civic bodies in the district, followed by neighbouring Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), where the spread of the infection was slow in the beginning. The PMC has been able to bring down the number of active cases, as more patients are recovering, but the number of new patients continues to remain over 1,000 per day. On the other hand, the count of active cases in PCMC and Pune rural has been rising this month.
While analysing the trend of the pandemic in the district, Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao recently said, “As per the trend, PMC is two weeks ahead of PCMC while Pune rural is two weeks behind PCMC.”
The administration has been attributing the surge in patients in the district to increased testing. “Testing in PMC, PCMC and Pune rural areas has been scaled up by procuring two lakh, one lakh and 50,000 rapid antigen kits, respectively. The more the testing, the faster it would help in identifying infected persons, so that they can be treated and put in isolation to further check the spread of the infection,” said Rao.
The increasing number of cases has also strained the health infrastructure, and authorities had to decide that patients with mild symptoms or no symptoms must be kept in home isolation instead of hospitalisation, so that there are enough beds to accommodate critical patients, whose number has been rising in the district.
The state government set up two jumbo Covid treatment facilities in Pune recently, with a collective capacity to treat 1,600 critical patients, including provision of 400 ICU beds. Both the facilities were started last week, along with additional facilities for critical patients set up by PMC and PCMC.
Now, the focus of the administration is more on reducing the mortality rate, which is hovering around 2.4 per cent. The option of plasma therapy is being pushed by encouraging recovered patients to donate plasma to treat critical patients.
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