With decline in new Covid-19 cases, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) has allowed YCM Hospital, which was converted to a dedicated Covid-19 hospital, to re-admit non-Covid patients. However, the civic body is also cautioning people to maintain physical distancing norms and wear masks and has intensified its drive against people found without masks in public places, since experts have not ruled out the possibility of a second wave.
“We were supposed to open YCM hospital for non-Covid patients after Diwali. But as the number of Covid-19 patients has come down drastically, we have opened the hospital for non-Covid patients,” said Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar.
“For starters, only 50 per cent beds will be kept for Covid-19 patients…we are admitting 50 per cent non-Covid patients. Two days ago, YCM hospital, which has a strength of 600 beds, had only 60 Covid-19 patients admitted,” Hardikar said.
PCMC House leader Namdev Dhake said the opening of YCM hospital was necessary as poor patients were finding it difficult to get treatment. “There was constant demand from elected representatives to open up YCM hospital for the poor as they were flooded with requests from residents in their area,” said Dhake.
Due to declining cases — from a high of 1,300 on a single day in September to 116 this Monday, many Pimpri-Chinchwad residents have been spotted out and about without masks, especially in crowded vegetable markets and commercial estabishments. Even people commuting in two-wheelers and four-wheelers and children playing in public places have been spotted without masks.
“In Bhosari, I have hardly seen anybody wearing masks in the past week. I think people have become relaxed after positive cases have started coming down,” said Sachin Rangdal, a resident of Bhosari. “I think residents have started taking the situation lightly,” added Kailas Jadhav, a resident of Dapodi.
Hardikar denied that the health department is going soft on those not wearing masks. “Our drive against maskless people continues. I will find out in which places action has been taken in the last few days,” he said.
On complaints that civic action is concentrated only on public roads and not in the suburbs where people can be spotted freely mingling in public squares in chawls, Hardikar said he will issue necessary instructions. “Till Diwali, we will remain extra cautious as experts have not ruled out a second wave. We continue to create awareness about maintaining social distancing and wearing masks,” he said.
Dr Subash Salunkhe, the state government’s technical advisor on Covid, said, “The PCMC should not lower its guard even if cases drop below 10. As of now, the numbers have fallen drastically. But this in no way means that the coronavirus has gone.
The PCMC will have to constantly create awareness and communicate with the masses. A possibility of second wave during the winter cannot be ruled out. Already in many countries, it has been observed that after a lull, positive cases have started rising.”
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