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‘Targeted testing could be the reason behind high number of Covid-19 cases in Pune’

Pune, Ahmednagar, Satara, Solapur and Sangli districts contribute most to Maharashtra's daily caseload and experts feel that a big chunk of the population is still susceptible to coronavirus in the state according to the latest serosurvey.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
August 2, 2021 2:06:56 pm
Steady rise in Covid cases in Pune: Infections among children record slight rise in first week of JulyHealth workers in front of the Jumbo Covid facility in Pune. (Express file photo by Arul Horizon)

Efficient targeted testing could be the reason behind the high number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra’s Pune, Ahmednagar, Satara, Solapur and Sangli districts, according to experts. “Extensive targeted testing during this peak has increased positivity rates,” Dr Sanjay Pujari, an expert member with the national Covid-19 task force told The Indian Express on queries about the extended plateau phase of infections in Pune and other places.

On August 1, a total of 6479 new Covid-19 cases were reported in Maharashtra and 157 deaths. Pune circle, comprising Pune rural, PMC, PCMC, Solapur and Satara, accounted for 2332. Pune district reported 995 new cases and 1256 recoveries. The new cases in Ahmednagar, Sangli, Solapur, Satara and Kolhapur were 888, 754, 691, 642 and 610 respectively. Pune rural reported 492 new cases, while PMC and PCMC 256 and 190 respectively. On average, 20,000 samples are tested daily in Pune.

“There is still a big susceptible population as the last serosurvey indicated only 58% seropositivity in Maharashtra – the second-lowest across Indian states. The fatigue in complying with Covid-appropriate behaviour, the easing of restrictions and the presence of the Delta variant of coronavirus are all linked to high transmission rates,” Pujari said.

While the pace of vaccinations has been unable to generate herd immunity rapidly, the good news is that health care has been able to deal with severe cases without much strain.

According to Dr A Banerjee, head of the department of community medicine at DY Patil Medical College, the reason also could be that for every positive RT-PCR test there might be 20-30 going undetected. Triangulation of data rather than just counting cases, which is driven by the rate of testing, should give a more realistic picture, Dr Banerjee said. Also one can feel a little reassured if hospital and ICU admissions are not showing rising trends, he said.

Dr Sanjeev Wavare, assistant medical officer of PMC, said that though the test positivity rate in Pune city is around 3.5 and an average of 300 new cases are detected daily, it is showing a declining trend.

Dr Vijay Natarajan, CEO of Symbiosis hospital, said, “The delta variant is a far more transmissible variant and there is a dangerous assumption that fully vaccinated people do not transmit the virus. Vaccinated people can carry the virus in airway passages and can transmit it to others if no precautions are taken.”

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