Govt swings into action as cases jump to 11

ST CORRESPONDENT
Thursday, 12 March 2020

“As a result, the authorities have tracked them down. All these people are self-quarantine and are at their respective homes. They will not be tested for COVID-19 until they show any symptoms. 40 other people accompanied the couple to Dubai,” said Dr Deepak Mhaisekar.

PUNE: The number of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) cases in Maharashtra rose to 11 on Wednesday, with three more positive cases reported from Pune, Nagpur and two from Mumbai.

With this, the number of positive patients in Pune has gone up to eight, as five persons were tested positive by Tuesday evening. The two Mumbai patients were a part of a group of 40 that had travelled to Dubai. The first two Pune cases  were a part of that group. 

The couple’s daughter, a co-traveller and a taxi driver who drove them also tested positive on Tuesday evening. “Only one of them had symptoms,” said Pune Divisional Commissioner Dr Deepak Mhaisekar.

Speaking to the press on Wednesday, Mhaiskar said that these five patients came in contact with 43 people between March 1 to March 7. 

“As a result, the authorities have tracked them down. All these people are self-quarantine and are at their respective homes. They will not be tested for COVID-19 until they show any symptoms. 40 other people accompanied the couple to Dubai,” said Mhaisekar.

A five-member team consisting of revenue officer, health officer, an officer from PMC and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) and a police official surveilled the residence of the Pune patient. They will also be checking in a radius of three kilometres for patients with similar symptoms. 

ISOLATION ARRANGEMENTS
He further added that there are 18 private empanelled hospitals in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) where arrangements of an isolation ward for suspected patients have been made.

“Eight hospitals are in PCMC and 10 are in PMC limits. The PMC and PCMC authorities are monitoring their respective areas for COVID-19 and the surveillance is going on. If there is a need for more manpower for a containment plan, we will be in touch with the State and Centre. But as of now, the preparations are enough,” said Mhaisekar.

Till March 11, over 1.38 lakh travellers from 1195 flights have been screened at Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur International Airports. As per the new guidelines from the central government, now travellers coming from all countries are being screened at international airports.

At present 18 suspected cases are still in hospital in Pune and 15 in Mumbai. Along with these suspected cases have also been isolated at Government Medical College, Nagpur and Yashwantrao Chavan Memorial Hospital in Pimpri-Chinchwad. Maharashtra has 502 isolation beds available. 

DISASTER ACT INVOKED
District Administration has evoked the Disaster Management Act on Tuesday to contain the outbreak of the virus.  District Collector Naval Kishore who is also the Chairman of District Disaster Management Cell has issued an order under Section 25 of the Act. District Civil Surgeon Dr Ashok Nandapurkar has been appointed as Incident commander, while District Health Officer Dr Bhagwan Pawar has been appointed as the joint controller for the better planning and actual implementation of this rule. 

These two officers will be responsible for coordinating with different departments, for the formation of a separate medical squad that will be available 24*7 and a separate ambulance for suspected patients will be pressed into service as and when needed. They will be responsible for creating awareness among people and also implementing the toll-free number 104 (for information related to Coronavirus). A separate help desk too has been established for the convenience of the people. Similarly, a nodal officer has also been appointed. 

A booklet has been made according to the guidelines framed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The administration has also created a helpline number- 91-11-23978046 which will be operated State-wide. The administration will be able to requisition doctors from private hospitals under the act. In addition to these responsibilities, they will also monitor the hoarding of mask or medicines by the pharmacists. As per this Act, it empowers the district administration to take steps necessary for mitigation of any disaster. 

FDA TO CHECK MASKS AND DISINFECTANT SALE
- An increasing number of complaints of alleged black marketing of face masks are being reported, which is why the Pune Divisional Commissioner has requested the Joint Commissioner for Food and Drug 
- Administration (FDA) to take appropriate action.
- “Along with black marketing of masks, there have been cases of spurious disinfectants. To check the overpricing, we have spoken with the FDA,” said Mhaisekar.

‘TEST ONLY AT NIV’
With growing panic for COVID-19, many citizens are enquiring if they can undergo a test for COVID-19 at any private facility just to be sure. Speaking about this, Mhaisekar said at present the testing is done only at Pune based National Institute of Virology (NIV).

“We are following the directive of the Central government and the World Health Organization (WHO). There are no private facilities where the suspected person can undergo a test,” said Mhaisekar.

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