Even as hospitals in Malegaon struggle to cope with an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients, BJP legislators in Nashik are opposing a move by the district administration to shift some patients from Malegaon to Nashik city for further treatment, saying that it would further expose the residents of Nashik city to the infection.
Malegaon, located 280 kms north of Mumbai, as of Thursday had a total patient count of 450 with 12 deaths. It accounts for 88 per cent of the patient count and 100 per cent fatalities of Nashik district, which as of Friday had 510 positive cases and 12 deaths. Malegaon has created seven quarantine facilities with a capacity of 930 beds, five Covid Care Centres with a capacity of 740, three dedicated Covid Health Centres with capacity of 170 and two Dedicated Covid Hospitals with a capacity of 90.
However, there have been complaints that the facilities at the centres are not up to the mark, including non-functional ventilators. Malegaon has also been facing a shortage of healthcare workers and the state government recently had to forcibly send 88 healthcare professionals drawn from other places to Malegaon. Many of them have complained of poor accommodation facilities. In view of all this, the district administration decided to shift some critical patients to Nashik, 100 kms away.
However, on Thursday, a delegation of BJP MLAs including Seema Hiray and Rahul Dhikle along with Nashik mayor and BJP leader Satish Kulkarni met Nashik district Collector Suraj Mandhare asking him to reconsider his decision to move patients from Malegaon. There are three Assembly seats in Nashik, and all three are with BJP.
When contacted, Hiray said she had met the Collector because of demands from her constituency. “I have taken this stand based on the demand of people of my constituency and other stakeholders. So far there has been no community spread in Nashik and we would want it to remain that way. Bringing patients all the way from Malegaon will be stressful on the patients as well. It would be far better to improve the health infrastructure of Malegaon than to bring patients to Nashik,” Hiray said.
Dhikle, who was part of the delegation, said that bringing patients from Malegaon would put residents of Nashik at risk.
“The patients can be treated locally in Malegaon. Bringing them here increases the threat of further spread of the virus in Nashik. There is opposition from locals to allow these patients,” Dhikle said.
District officials said that while the BJP MLAs were given a hearing, there is no change in the decision that patients from Malegaon will be brought to Nashik city for treatment.
Other political parties criticised the BJP MLAs for their stand. “Malegaon is in Nashik district. It is very unfortunate that a town that is part of this district is being given such stepmotherly treatment in times of crisis. The demands of these MLAs is unreasonable, unlawful and shameful,” Malegaon MLA from AIMIM Mufti Ismail said.
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