A section of people engaged in dispensing essential services has emerged as major spreaders of the novel coronavirus in Pune city, said authorities as the district recorded 206 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday. The total number of cases has now breached the 4,000-mark to take the tally to 4,001, while two more deaths saw the death toll rise to 199.
The number of active positive cases in Pune district now stands at 1,842, of whom 157 were critical, said officials. The district had recorded its highest single-day surge yet on Saturday, reporting over 220 cases.
Speaking to The Hindu, Pune Municipal Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said following an analysis of the new cases, it was discovered that some people engaged in essential services, who had tested positive, were turning out to be major spreaders of the infection.
“A major wholesale pharmaceutical distributor, who owns an entire building in the city’s Sadashiv Peth area tested positive recently. While his family members tested negative, 38 of his 50 workers have tested positive. Likewise, a nurse working at a prominent city hospital, living in Katraj area had infected at least a dozen more persons,” Mr. Gaikwad said. Swab samples of 180 others suspected to have come into contact with the nurse had been sent for testing.
The PMC Commissioner said that while he had been urging the hospital where the nurse works to arrange for temporary quarters to house their staff near the hospital premises, the response from senior officials had not been encouraging.
“Sassoon Hospital has already arranged for temporary living quarters for their staff at a hotel nearby. I have urged the particular hospital to similarly requisition temporary quarters for its staff, but their senior management has not responded on this count. If they do not respond positively, we will have no option but to seal-off the areas where their staff reside given the ever-present viral load on medical personnel combating the pandemic,” Mr. Gaikwad said.
He further said at least 20% among the new cases were from the ‘non-containment’ zones.
While acknowledging the need for stricter policing to preclude transmission of the virus from ‘high-risk’ zones to the non-containment areas, Mr. Gaikwad said at the same time, there were at least 15 containment zones within Pune city that had not reported fresh cases for more than a week.
“Despite the rise in cases, the administration’s ‘micro-cluster’ policy of segregating the infected areas and permitting resumption of economic activity in the non-containment zones is working well,” he said.
Spike in rural areas
Likewise, the district’s rural areas, where the contagion has been relatively kept in check, witnessed its highest single-day spike of nine new cases on Saturday.
“This rise in cases has been after relaxation of the lockdown rules, with several persons, hitherto stranded in Mumbai city, travelling back from there and the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) to their homes in Pune district. Two positive cases from Indapur yesterday were those who came from the city,” said Ayush Prasad, CEO, Pune zilla parishad.
Mr. Prasad, too, pointed to the pattern of new cases being amongst those engaged in essential services. “Recently, we had a case in Velhe where a fruit seller ventured into Bhavani Peth in Pune city, which is perhaps the most infected area in the district. He caught the infection there, and came back to attend his mother’s funeral. 10 more cases emerged from those who attended the funeral,” he said, adding that there were 41 active cases in Pune rural.
Meanwhile, as per official figures, 1,960 persons in Pune district had been discharged from various hospitals following complete recovery, with more than 400 being discharged over the past 48 hours alone.
A total 2,218 persons across Pune division, which includes the districts of Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and Solapur along with Pune, have been discharged this far.
The death toll in the division has shot to 229, which Solapur reporting four more fatalities on Sunday to take the district’s cumulative death toll to 26.
“The total cases in Solapur has risen to 378, of whom 150 have been discharged and 202 are active. Satara has a total 129 cases, of whom 61 are active, while Sangli’s total has risen to 50 of whom 17 are active cases and Kolhapur has reported a total 35 cases of whom 24 are active,” Pune Divisional Commissioner Deepak Mhaisekar said.