Covid-19 vaccination drive at Premlok Park Hospital, Chinchwad, in Pune earlier in February. (HT file)
Covid-19 vaccination drive at Premlok Park Hospital, Chinchwad, in Pune earlier in February. (HT file)

Pune’s Covid tally again on the rise, curbs extended

The new hot spots are being monitored with more testing among super spreaders and also aggressive contact tracing
By Steffy Thevar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 03:24 PM IST

Covid-19 cases continue to rise in Pune with the district reporting 1,585 cases on Sunday. In a week’s time, Pune district reported 9,395 new cases, a daily case load average of 1,342, more than double of what the district reported two weeks ago, on February 14, when 617 cases were reported.

This upsurge has forced the administration to extend restrictions on movement of people during night time and on schools and colleges till March 14.

Experts believe that the surge could be because of the lackadaisical attitude of the people and could also be the attributed to the new variant which has possibly entered the district even as samples are being tested at Pune’s National Institute of Virology.

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As per the data from the district information office until February 21, since the imposition of fine, a total of 26.99 crore has been collected from 543,000 people in the district for not wearing masks and spitting in public.

Dr Subhash Salunkhe, technical adviser to the Maharashtra government on Covid-19 outbreak said, “Initially, the rise was noticed in Maharashtra’s Amravati and Yavatmal districts where interplay of multiple factors, such as a large number of people violating the Covid norms, erratic climate, and the mutation in the virus were noticed. The surge was witnessed in Pune and Mumbai as well.”

During September last year when Covid was at its peak, Pune reported close to 5,000 cases every day. The district has had 409,000 cases since March 9, 2020, when first case was reported.

Once the number of cases started rising again in February, deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar chaired a meeting on February 21 to take a call on the various measures to contain the spread. The positivity rate, which is the number of positive cases per 100 samples tested, was about 6% during January 25-29 period. It rose to 10% in the first week on February and has gone up to 12.46% as of Sunday, February 28.

Pune now has most active cases in the state, with over 15,000 people undergoing treatment in various hospitals or in home isolation.

The district administration has found that the emerging hot spots in the city are the same places that were reporting cases almost four months into the pandemic. The new hot spots are being monitored with more testing among super spreaders and also aggressive contact tracing. The administration has also decide to reactivate departments such as revenue department, police department, food and drugs administration and gram panchayats to ensure Covid-19 appropriate behaviour and also to impose penalty.

According to Indian Medical Association (IMA) president, Maharashtra chapter, Dr Avinash Bhondwe, the sudden surge in the cases could be attributed to the entry of the mutated variant of the virus.

“The government wants to hide this fact that the mutated variant either from UK or South Africa has already entered the city. If they admit it then it’ll mean that the government has failed to isolated the infected patients who came from these affected countries. Also, this will hamper the ongoing vaccination drive because the efficacy of the current dose has to be tested against this mutated virus too,” Bhondwe said.

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