A new modelling study has predicted that with the current level of relaxation, the peak load on critical healthcare (people requiring oxygen support, ICU, ventilators etc) will be sustained until October-end in Pune.
Till Wednesday morning, there were 1.29 lakh cases of Covid-19 and 3,200 deaths in Pune. Of this, a total of 77,368 Covid-19 cases and 1,849 deaths have been reported from Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) areas. As the city enters a crucial stage of the pandemic, additional preparation will be needed as the critical case load coming in from outside PMC areas rises during these months. Tata Consultancy Services Research (TRDCC), Pune, in collaboration with Prayas (health group), has developed a fine grained model and their analysis indicates that a significant number of people from Pune are still susceptible to the infection.
“We have developed this model for Pune Municipal Corporation jurisdiction. The primary objective was to have a tool that provides Pune specific insights about appropriate interventions as the epidemic unfolds in the city. Ward-level analysis was done to arrive at the city-level picture. It considered all administrative decisions related to lockdown and reopening until August 5,” Dr Ritu Parchure, senior researcher with Prayas health group, told The Indian Express.
Researchers said that by mid-August, in some wards with crowded dense localities, around 35-40 per cent people were likely to have had the infection already. In some wards (eg Kothrud, Warje, Aundh), this proportion is likely to be as low as 15 per cent. Majority of the infections are seen to occur through household contacts. Along with that, longer interactions in enclosed and crowded places is likely to increase transmission risk (places such as banks, offices, factories, eateries among others).
Among the public health measures, universal use of masks and testing and isolation effectively slow down the epidemic. If 80 per cent people used masks, there was reduction in hospital load by upto 25 per cent during peak months. This proportion was 10 per cent if current testing rates were doubled, according to the study. Strategies like intermittent lockdowns have limited efficacy, researchers including Dr Vinay Kulkarni and Dr Shirish Dharak, pointed out.
Their analysis indicates that if appropriate preventive care is not taken, there is a risk of rapid rise in infections in these wards, which will further add burden on health care. Gradual opening up and continued efforts to ensure compliance with preventive behaviours will be crucial.
Public health measures such as universal use of masks and testing are key interventions.
“As things unfold dynamically over the coming months, keeping a close watch on the situation is extremely crucial. One cannot stress more about the need for data that can be easily accessed by people,” said Dr Parchure . Advising quarantine of all suspected cases would be a prudent strategy in this situation, and this would require high levels of awareness and trust among communities, researchers said.
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