THE tourist town of Lonavala has succeeded in halting the spread of coronavirus disease, for now. The town, which has a population of 57,000, had two positive cases. Two days ago, both patients tested negative.
The Lonavla Municipal Council (LMC) also includes the neighbouring tourist spot of Khandala. The civic body has 12 wards, of which two are in Khandala, which has a population of nearly 5,000.
Explaining the strategy adopted by the council, its CEO Sachin Pawar said they laid a lot of emphasis on house-to-house surveys and counselling local residents to remove the fear of Covid-19, so that they got themselves treated at the slightest sign of symptoms.
“House-to-house surveys are carried out for five to six hours practically every day. ASHA workers and anganwadi sevikas go across the town, surveying each and every house… people are surveyed for symptoms of Covid-19 as well as co-morbodities,” he said.
Pawar said a three-step system was put in place to ensure that each and every resident got personal attention. “First, 40 ASHA workers and anganwadi sevikas were tasked to go to each house. Then a medical officer examined the high-risk patients. After that, a follow-up was done by the nurses. If they reported a patient, then the medical officer would treat the patient,” he said.
During surveys, it was found that Lonavala-Khandala has 4,000 co-morbid patients. “We first found out the exact co-morbidities they suffered from. Then our team of doctors met them… and counselled them about steps to be taken to keep themselves fit and safe from coronavirus,” he said.
The LMC, however, didn’t have enough doctors and nurses. “The government provided us with one MBBS full-time doctor, 11 nurses and a part-time gyanecologist while we appointed two BAMS and two BHMS doctors,” said Pawar.
Initially, three check-posts were set up at three points of Lonavala and later, two check-posts were set up by the police. “The police kept a close watch on those entering Lonavala city. Those who came from outside where taken to institutional quarantine.. these included those who came from outside the city, district or the state. Those who came from outside the country where taken to institutional quarantine in Pune city. We had acquired several places like sanatoriums and holiday homes for quarantining outsiders,” said Pawar.
Netajiwadi in Khandala was declared as a containment zone after two cases were reported. Both patients have recovered since then. “We had also undertaken disinfection activity across town. Doors, windows and gates of property owners were disinfected. Five hand-wash stations were set up for residents who left the town for personal work,” he said.
Since Lonavala does not have a primary health centre or sub-district hospital, the two positive cases found during house-to house surveys were sent to YCM Hospital in Pimpri, which is located 50 km away.
Now, the plan for setting up a sub-district hospital has been submitted to the state government. “We are awaiting government approval,” said council president Surekha Jadhav.
Pawar said as of now, Lonavala is free of coronavirus and the council has succeeded in stopping the spread of the infection. “But we are constantly on our guard. We hope and pray that the situation remains the same in the coming days. The people of Lonavala, councillors, president and deputy president Shridhar Pujarihas fully cooperated with the civic body. Credit goes to them,” he said.
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