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Maharashtra records over 14,000 Covid-19 cases for a third consecutive day

By Surendra P Gangan, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON AUG 29, 2020 12:25 AM IST

Maharashtra recorded more than 14,000 cases for the third consecutive day, as the state’s Covid-19 tally reached 747,995 with the addition of 14,361 infections on Friday. The state also reported 331 fatalities, although 248 of these deaths were from the past two days, 47 from the past week and 36 from the period before that.

Chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said the state had decided to implement ‘Chase the Virus’ programme across Maharashtra to identify elderly and comorbid people and protect them to keep the fatalities in check. The announcement came after the Centre expressed concern over the state’s high fatality rate. Union cabinet secretary Rajiv Gauba held a review meeting on Thursday with officials from nine states, including Maharashtra, and a union territory where the case fatality rate (CFR) is high.

Maharashtra’s CFR stands at 3.18% against the national CFR of 1.83%.

The state authorities are concerned over their failure to bring down CFR, despite setting a target of bringing it down to less than 1%. The government has now directed the district administrations with the high CFR to go for the aggressive tracing, surveillance of high- and low-risk patients and provide quick treatment to patients.

“In the first week of July, we had asked the district and civic administrations to reduce the positivity rate to less than 10% and CFR to less than 1%. More than two-and-half-months later, our positivity rate is around 19% and CFR at 3.25%. This is because of the lacklustre approach in surveillance and weak infrastructure in certain parts of the state. We are now gearing up the district administrations for immediate improvement on these two fronts,” said a Mantralaya official, on condition of anonymity.

Apart from the announcement of implementing ‘Chase The Virus’ drive across the state, Thackeray also announced ramping-up health infrastructure in rural areas. “The drive will tap citizens over 55 years and treat them for comorbidities. We have erected jumbo and field hospitals to treat Covid-19 and they are equipped with oxygen and ventilator facilities. Although these facilities are temporary, we could use the equipment while setting up permanent health facilities. We want to make available health facilities to the rural population on the lines of facilities available in Mumbai,” he said.

Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer, said Maharashtra has seen a drop in CFR over the past two months, although the cumulative rate is still high. “It will rapidly come down over the next few weeks and we expect the infection curve to touch baseline by Diwali, in the second week of November. It is true that the infrastructure in some districts still needs to be ramped up. In some districts, the turnaround time for test reports is more than two days, even though testing facilities in rural areas, too, have been augmented. This has resulted in reporting of more cases in rural areas,” he said.

Mumbai (5.3%), Solapur (4.1%) and Akola (4.1%) are among the districts with highest CFR in the state. Solapur has brought it down from 10% in the past three months by taking adequate measures. “We have been focussing on comorbid patients in the rural areas, where the spread has penetrated. We have been providing better facilities at Covid centres so that the patients are not scared of revealing their symptoms. We trace at least 20 high- and low-risk patients and it has helped us in reducing the daily cases to 350-400 from more than 700 a few days ago. In urban parts, we have reached the peak and in rural areas it’s expected to reach plateau in the next six weeks,” said Dr Pradeep Dhele, civil surgeon of Solapur district.

Dr Rajkumar Chauhan, civil surgeon of Akola district, said aggressive tracing and testing has helped them reduce fatality rate too. “Akola district is known for the high salinity water leading to chronic kidney ailments among people, especially the elderly. We have been focusing on comorbid patients, with the help of general practitioners and local corporators. We have been tracking at least 18 people against every positive patient and it has helped us in containing the spread to daily 40-45 patients. We expect our CFR to drop to 3% in one month or so,” he said.

Meanwhile, the number of active patients across the state on Friday crossed 1.80 lakh and 11,607 recoveries pushed up the total number of recovered patients to 543,170. The recovery rate of the state stands at 72.62% against the national rate of 76.24%.

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