Four districts in Vidarbha have shown a maximum spike in novel coronavirus cases over the last one month with Bhandara, Chandrapur, Gondia and Gadchiroli recording 400 to 600 per cent jump in active infections, the state government data shows.
The number of active infections in Bhandara, which had 261 cases till August 27, went up to 1,664 on September 27, a 663 per cent increase. Chandrapur recorded a 570 per cent jump in Covid-19 cases from 739 to 4,958 in the corresponding period, while Gondia saw an increase by 496 per cent from 425 to 2,533 cases, and Gadchiroli witnessed a 465 per cent spike from 92 to 520 in the same period.
The districts had remained in the green zone from March till June. In July, as cases rose in neighbouring Nagpur, proximity and inter-district movement also led to a spike in these four districts.
“In several rural areas where there were earlier no cases, we are now noticing a spike,” said state epidemiologist Dr Pradeep Awate. Across the state, 6.05 lakh new Covid-19 cases were recorded from August 27 to September 27.
The first Covid-19 fatality in Chandrapur was reported on August 2, a full four months after Maharashtra registered its first death due to the virus in end-March. Until August 2, Gondia had recorded three deaths, Bhandara 2, and Gadchiroli 1. The total deaths due to the virus in the four districts shot up by September 27 with Chandrapur recording 126 fatalities, Gondia 70, Bhandara 95, and Gadchiroli 13.
Dr Rajkumar Gehlot, Chandrapur district health officer, said they were recording 200-250 new cases daily. “We are adding 1,000 isolation beds. A women and child hospital and a military hospital are in the process of being converted into dedicated Covid-19 facilities,” Gehlot said. He added travel to and fro Nagpur was a major reason for the spike in the tribal parts of Chandrapur.
Other districts that have recorded a sudden jump over a month are Akola and Wardha. Shortage of doctors remains a major worry for these districts. The state government is in process of appointing 1,204 bonded candidates, who have finished their graduation and post-graduation, across government hospitals after repeated advertisements for doctors failed to yield adequate response. The Public Health department, which manages rural and district hospitals, will get at least 300 doctors, including 60 MD specialists and 60 anaesthetists. “We plan to press all these doctors on Covid-19 duties,” said Dr Sadhana Tayade, director, Directorate of Health Services.
Though Vidarbha is recording the highest spike in terms of percentage, in absolute numbers Pune, Mumbai, Thane, Nashik and Nagpur continue to record the maximum new active cases. Between August 27 and September 27, the number of active cases in Mumbai increased by 7,253, in Pune by 12,808, Thane 9,742, Nagpur 6,304 and Nashik 5,960. Percentage-wise, however, these districts recorded only 30-60 per cent spike.
Across the state, there are 2.73 lakh active infection cases as per the ICMR portal. The government maintains there are 1.08 lakh patients who have recovered, but continue to appear on ICMR portal. State Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas said, Nagpur, Pune and Thane districts have been unable to update patient information on ICMR leading to lower recovery rates and higher active caseload in the state.
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