How Maharashtra govt plans to curb record Covid-19 spike

Due to a rapid increase in the number of Covid-positive patients in the state, there might soon be a shortage of beds and other health facilities.

MUMBAI: Mumbai reported its highest-ever spike in a day in the number of Covid-19 cases on Sunday with 6,923 infections in the last 24 hours taking the tally to 3,98,674, the city civic body said. The city recorded eight deaths taking the overall count to 11,649, it said. As for the state, it recorded over 40,000 new cases on Sunday.

Due to a rapid increase in the number of Covid-positive patients in the state, there might soon be a shortage of beds and other health facilities. At a task force meeting, it was suggested that very strict restrictions like lockdown should be imposed immediately. In this important meeting on Saturday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Health Minister Rajesh Tope, Chief Secretary Sitaram Kunte, doctors of the task force and senior officials in the administration discussed the need to impose a complete lockdown in the next few days if the restrictions and rules are not strictly followed.

The Chief Minister gave a clear instruction that entry of visitors to the Mantralaya as well as government and semi-government offices should be restricted. Private offices and establishments should prepare for lockdown if they do not comply with the 50% staff limit. At the beginning of the meeting, Principal Secretary of the Health Department Dr Pradip Vyas pointed out that due to the rapidly growing infection in the state, all important health facilities, especially beds, ventilators, and oxygen, would soon be under severe pressure and would not be available to the general public.

The doctors of the task force pointed out that the increase in deaths could be due to the increase in infection, especially due to delay in hospitalisation not undergoing testing in time and disobeying the rules while in home isolation. In September last year, there were 24,619 Covid-positive patients in a single day. Yesterday, on 27 March, there were 35,726 Covid-positive patients in one day and this number will increase to 40,000 in the next 24 hours, said the health department.

Uddhav Thackeray clearly instructed that on one hand, we are trying our best to ensure that the economy will continue even in the Covid situation but many still do not take this seriously. Attendance rules are still not being followed by private offices. Wedding ceremonies are being arranged by breaking the rules, and even in the markets, safe distance is not being maintained and masks are not worn properly. Ultimately, it is our priority to protect people’s health. He directed the Chief Secretary to plan the supply of foodgrains, medicines, essential services, and medical facilities on the understanding that the rules would have to be strictly adhered to or lockdown would be imposed

“Last year, we gradually increased all the health facilities and created field hospitals but in the current situation it seems these facilities are not enough,” he said. The Chief Minister directed that adequate ventilators should be available and production of oxygen should be reserved 80% for medical and 20% for other purposes. He also directed to ensure that the 80:20 formula is implemented in hospital beds and patients are not inconvenienced. Saying e-ICU can be easily used on a large scale, the Chief Minister directed the health department to take immediate steps in this regard.

  People fear more that if their test is positive, they will be taken to any isolation centre and not get proper facility there. We should see that they do not fear, said the Chief Minister. He also directed that if there are no facilities in the rural areas, arrangements should be made to get facilities in the nearest town or area. The Chief Minister also directed not to concentrate only on Mumbai and Pune but to see that there is no shortage of isolation facilities and health facilities in all the parts of the state.

  Tope also expressed the need to speed up the search for patients and their contacts in rural areas. He said it is a challenge to provide health facilities, especially in small towns, and all steps would be taken to focus on e-ICU. He said that vaccination in Maharashtra is good in the country and if the cold chain available in rural areas is used to increase vaccination at sub-centres, it will increase the vaccination. It is a matter of concern that Covid-positive people are arriving late at hospitals. Tope said that even in the age group of 10 to 18 years, there is a high incidence of Covid infection and the death rate among the youth may also increase in future.

Kunte said that the pace of vaccination in Maharashtra is satisfactory. He said that Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told about the improvement over the past few days and suggested to speed up vaccination in areas where the cases of infection were more. Appropriate instructions are being given to the administration so that there is no confusion and there is coordination as lockdown is decided and the balance will be maintained so that the economic cycle is not affected.