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State’s Covid-19 count rises to 220; toll is 10

By Surendra P Gangan and Rupsa Chakraborty, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 30, 2020 11:42 PM IST

Two more coronavirus disease (Covid-19) patients died in Maharashtra on Monday, taking the toll to 10, as 17 fresh cases of the infection (Sars-Cov-2) were reported in the state. Maharashtra’s case count has risen to 220.

A 78-year old man from Mumbai died in a private hospital, while a 52-year old man died at a private hospital in Pune. State health minister Rajesh Tope said 39 patients have been discharged from various hospitals after they recovered from the infection.

“Of the 17 new patients, eight are in Mumbai, five in Pune, two in Nagpur and one each in Nashik and Kolhapur,” read a state health department statement.

The 78-year-old was suffering from high blood pressure and heart ailments, while the Pune patient had diabetes and high blood pressure, according to health department officials.

Meanwhile, after a few patients, who tested positive on Monday, were found to be from densely populated areas in Mumbai and Pune, the state government has issued instructions to all district authorities to take precautions to contain the spread.

State government officials have expressed fear of a rapid spread of the virus in these localities owing to the density of population. “Two from Gultekadi at Pune and four from Worli-Koliwada have tested positive. Both areas are densely populated, where there is high risk of community transmission. The patients have no foreign travel history and had come in contact with Covid-19 patients. We fear that there could be a number of people that had come in contact with these people,” a key official from the state government said.

Against this backdrop, the state government has asked district authorities to ensure proper sanitisation of slums and densely populated areas. They have also been directed to identify people who had come in close contact with the Covid-19 patients. According to the official, the spread of the virus in slums is a matter of grave concern for the government as it could lead to a rapid community spread. “We are still maintaining emphatically that it is not a community spread. Local authorities have been doing contact tracing and isolation . The sanitisation of the area, be it slums or otherwise, is being regularly done by local authorities,” said Tope.

The minister said that during their video conference with district collectors from Varsha bungalow, the official CM residence, on Monday, district authorities have been directed to ensure all private clinics are open. “After our appeal to the people, blood collection has begun effectively in various parts of the state. I spoke to the Union health minister today, requesting them for adequate supply of N-95 masks and PPE (personal protective equipment) sets from the Centre,” he said. Tope said the collectors have also been told to ensure smooth supply of essential commodities and grains so that people do not unnecessarily step out of their house to stock up these commodities.

Meanwhile, various isolation facilities at government hospitals and buildings saw 4,538 people admitted since January 18 after they complained of fever, cough and cold. Tests of 3,876 of them turned out negative, while 220 tested positive. As many as 19,161 people are in home quarantine and 1,224 are in institutional quarantine.

In response to the Central government’s appeal of ensuring adequate arrangements for migrant workers and people stranded in the state, Maharashtra government has opened 262 shelters across the state. Chief secretary Ajoy Mehta held a meeting of the state executive committee of disaster management and released 45 crore for the arrangement of shelter, food and health facilities to stranded workers in various parts of the state. For Konkan and Pune divisions, the government has released 15 and 10 crore respectively, while four other divisions (Nashik, Nagpur, Amravati and Aurangbad) have been given 5 crore respectively.

Similarly, labour minister Dilip Walse Patil has directed labour officials at the district level to ensure mid-day facility for migrant and construction workers. The minister said that at least 2 lakh construction workers from various construction sites will benefit from the scheme.

Meanwhile, governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari held a review meeting with Thackeray and key officials from the government. The governor has directed the government to made adequate arrangements for food, shelter and medicines to the migrants living in various camps across the state. He also insisted for the immediate monetary assistance to construction workers. Thackeray apprised him about the steps taken by his government for fighting Covid-19.

The Mumbai police on Monday home quarantined all families in 22 chawls in Dahisar, after three positive cases of Covid-19 were reported in Dahisar on Saturday.

The collector of Mumbai island city, Rajeev Niwatkar, also announced that a special control room and helpline have been set up to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak. The number of the helpline is 022-22664232. BMC also started a helpline for migrant workers who were spotted in large numbers on highways walking to their hometowns in other India states. The helpline number 1800-22-1292 will be available from 9am to 9pm every day, and will make available food packets, grocery packets, and shelter for homeless or stranded labourers.

In Mumbai, the 78-year-old who died had acute respiratory distress and was admitted at a private hospital on March 27 . He had no foreign travel history. His was a known case of hypertension and ischemic heart disease. He succumbed to his infection on March 28, however, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) confirmed him as a case of Covid-19 on Monday after getting his swab test report on Sunday night.

“We have taken samples from five of his close contacts, including his househelp,” said a health officer. “We are also trying to ascertain his source of transmission as he didn’t have travel history,” added the officer.

In addition to this, a 52-year-old Covid-19 patient died on Monday at a private hospital in Pune, becoming the first death in the city. The man was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure and was undergoing treatment at the Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital. His samples turned out positive for coronavirus on March 22 and he died on Monday. The man was on ventilator support. He died of multiple organ failure,” said Murlidhar Mohal, mayor, Pune.

Of the 10 deaths in the state so far, seven have been reported in Mumbai and one each in Navi Mumbai, Buldhana and Pune. There is one suspected Covid-19 death of an 86-year-old woman. She is the mother of the 49-year-old man who tested positive for Covid-19 along with his househelp from Ghatkopar. The deceased tested negative for the virus in the first test, but later started developing symptoms and succumbed to it on Monday in a private hospital. BMC has collected her swab samples for a test for confirmation.

In Jaslok Hospital, a nurse has been identified with Covid-19, while treating a patient with another illness who had no international travel history. Later, he was found asymptomatic of Covid-19. Currently, the nurse is undergoing treatment in the isolation ward of the hospital. “After a few days, he was noticed having symptoms and was immediately shifted to the isolation ward. All the medical and non-medical staff who came in direct or indirect contact with the affected patient have been identified and screened and have been quarantined as per protocol,” reads the statement issued by the hospital.

On the other hand, according to the data released by the BMC health department, in the past 24 hours, 47 cases have been reported in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). Of which, 38 are from Mumbai and 9 from Navi Mumbai.

“Total number of positive coronavirus cases reported in MMR has increased to 170, of which 126 from the city and 44 from Navi Mumbai. Moreover, 18 of 47 samples of positive cases were sent to a private lab, which was later reconfirmed at government labs,” read the statement.

Deputy chief and finance minister Ajit Pawar has demanded Maharashtra gets a special package of 25,000 crore from the Central government to combat Covid-19 and boost the economy. “The three-week lockdown has resulted in the shutdown of industries, services and other sectors. The last month of the financial year witnesses huge collection of taxes and duties, which is unlikely to be accumulated now. To tackle the unprecedented economic challenge, the Centre should extend a package of 25,000 crore to Maharashtra,” Pawar has said in a letter to Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

He also has demanded that dues of 16,654 crore with the Centre towards the devolution of Central taxes and aid be released before March 31.

The state government has also decided to set a protocol for private practitioners, making it compulsory to refer patients with coronavirus-like symptoms to government hospitals immediately. The decision was taken after the government found that private practitioners keep treating such patients at their level for longer period.

(with inputs from Eeshanpriya MS)

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