Outgoing Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar said on Friday that Sassoon General Hospital has been directed to submit an analysis of the total number of deaths for the month of July and provide comparative figures for the deaths that occurred in July last year.
The directive came after Mayor Murlidhar Mohol raised the issue of allegedly high number of deaths not registered due to Covid-19. Mohol had claimed that there were approximately 4-500 Covid-related deaths, but which were not registered as such.
The officer on special duty at the Divisional Commissioner’s office, Saurabh Rao, said they were looking into the matter and had asked Sassoon authorities to analyse the data and provide the exact details of both Covid-19 and non-Covid-related deaths in July.
Rao said they were trying to ramp up the infrastructure as fast as possible at Sassoon General Hospital and hoped to increase the bed strength to 870 by August 3. Presently, 446 beds are functional for Covid-19, Rao said.
Of the total number of 8,313 people admitted to Sassoon Hospital, as many as 1,634 tested positive for Covid-19. So far, at least 524 Covid-19 deaths have been reported at Sassoon General Hospital, while 934 people have recovered and been discharged from the hospital.
When contacted, Dr Subhash Salunke, chairman of the state technical committee on preventive communicable diseases, told The Indian Express that a clinical picture is variable for a Covid-related death. The presence of coronavirus, as found by a test, can be an associated finding and the actual cause of death can be a co-morbidity as the person may have had pneumonia, Salunkhe said. It is impossible for the Sassoon administration to hide any death and each one is accounted for, he said. The diagnosis part can come up for discussions, Salunkhe added.
However, he said not enough was being done related to contact tracing. “The civic authorities should step up contact tracing and focus on preventive measures and identify senior citizens with co-morbidities and monitor them on a daily basis. Increasing the number of beds alone will not bring down the death rate – there should be a multi-strategic approach…” Salunkhe said.
Serological testing underway in Pune, results likely by mid-August
After Delhi and Mumbai, a serological surveillance project is underway in Pune to understand the percentage of population that has been affected by Covid-19. Dr Aarti Nagarkar, head of the School of Health Sciences at Pune University, told The Indian Express that 1,500 people have been identified across five randomly selected wards in Pune area. The people are from varied sections of society and blood samples are being collected, she said.
This is a joint venture with the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research and Pune Municipal Corporation and Persistent Systems, Saurabh Rao said, adding that they were also engaging additional manpower for the survey.
There is a need for more phlebotomists to collect blood samples, he said. Asymptomatic individuals are not tested as the effect of virus is not shown in them but they are capable of infecting others and the presence of antibodies will help identify the spread of disease, he said. The epidemiological and serological project will also give an idea as to which age group is largely affected. After completing the survey and analysing the findings, the results are likely to be out by mid-August.
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