Pune will likely have a total of 62,268 active Covid-19 cases by the end of August, as per projections made by health experts in the municipal corporations of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad, said Divisional Commissioner Saurabh Rao. He was, however, hopeful that the slightly declining positivity rate at 22 per cent would bring relief to overburdened hospitals.
Rao said the trend showed that the recovery rate had improved and stress on health infrastructure had also slightly reduced. “Still, we are not jumping to any conclusion, but this has come as a slight relief for all of us, especially in the PMC area,” Rao told The Indian Express earlier.
The divisional commissioner said overall, the projections estimated a total of 1,60,208 cases in Pune (including PMC, PCMC and Pune rural) by the end of August. In the last 10 days, however, the positivity rate had declined to 22 per cent in Pune, which was a welcome sign, he added. He also said the doubling rate of Covid-19 cases had crossed 35 days in the PMC and reached 22 in PCMC areas.
Pune district has the highest testing at 866 per million population – higher than Mumbai (546 per million population) and the state (530 per million population).
Rao further said in the last 10 days, the positivity rate had declined: 39 per cent on August 1, 32 per cent on August 3, 26 per cent on August 4, 32 per cent on August 6, 30 per cent on August 8 and 21 per cent on August 9.
Still, despite increased testing, positivity rate was on the higher side, he said.
According to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), positivity rate should be less than 10 per cent while case fatality ratio should be less than 1 per cent. In the last 30 days, Pune’s daily testing has been at an approximate of 10,204, Rao said, adding that testing will not be reduced and will continue in this manner for the next 10 days or so.
He also said bed strength was being increased – presently there are 55 vacant ventilated beds available in Pune, out of which 14 are vacant in PMC areas. From July 31 to August 10, the capacity was increased by adding another 825 hospital beds. By August 31, another 600 beds will be added, both oxygenated and ventilated, he added.
He said bed strength will be increased by 350 beds at Sassoon General Hospital in the next three days, while Navale hospital had agreed to set aside another 150 beds for Covid patients. Minor hurdles were being managed, Rao said, adding that at Sassoon, arrangements were made to provide 6,000 litres of oxygen in the tank.
At present, there are 3,100 people requiring oxygenated beds, 550 in non-ventilated ICU beds, and 570 needing artificial ventilation in the ICU.
Rao said while a whopping amount of Rs 250 crore had been spent on the entire exercise from creating beds to recruiting manpower, tentative health personnel required at the two jumbo facilities of 800 beds each was approximately 280 to 310 doctors and paramedical staff.
He also told The Indian Express that three agencies engaged in this work had been instructed not to poach manpower from Pune district. “We cannot afford to take doctors from any private hospitals — no point in taking from them by hiring them at higher salaries. We have to ensure that these hospitals are engaged with Covid treatment for the next couple of months and will get human resources from other states. Adding 400 ICU beds and 1,200 oxygenated beds would help reduce the stress on private hospitals,” he said.
“I understand private hospitals are fatigued and the administration is breathing down their neck – I have been calling daily, cajoling hospitals to increase bed strength. They are responding despite limitations and, hence, we are able to survive,” Rao told The Indian Express.
Appeal by hospitals
Dr Dhananjay Kelkar, medical director of Deenanath Mangeshkar hospital has cautioned that people were not safe yet and the coronavirus threat was still very much present.
He said the major peak might have been the last week of July (1,800 new cases daily), but the peak plateau was underway or minor peaks (1,300 to 1,400 daily) on this plateau were coming forward.
He expressed concern over fast deteriorating diligence in wearing masks or distancing and warned if it worsened, there will be more deaths. Crowding, spitting, poor hand hygiene, and unmasking was on the rise, Dr Kelkar said, adding that hospitals were experiencing fatigue, pressure, bed shortage and staff infections. “Stress due to Covid deaths is wearing them down. Nursing staff want to go home for Ganesh festival and the shortage is imminent. There is a gap between the cup and the lip and we need patience and discipline in the next month to be able to cross the peak,” Dr Kelkar said.