Home/ News / India/  As infections rise Maha CM appeals ex-servicemen to join containment efforts

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday called on all retired army personnel with any experience of health care to come forward to join the administration’s containment efforts. “I want to appeal to all retired army personnel who have experience of medical field, nurses, ward boys, and those who have completed the training but didn’t work for some reason - you must come forward to join us. Maharashtra needs you," Thackeray said.

On Wednesday, authorities made it compulsory to wear face masks in Mumbai when in public areas making the city the first implement such a rule.

On Wednesday, two new coronavirus positive cases emerged in Mumbai’s Dharavi, the total number of cases to nine, the Maharashtra government officials said focus remains on containing the spread from hotspots in Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur.

For Mumbai, Worli Koliwada is the only hotspot with a large number of cases. There is no other declared hotspot zone although Dharavi one of the largest slum areas in the country remains a cause of worry.

On Wednesday Maharashtra’s total tally of positive cases jumped to 1078 with the cities of Mumbai and Pune reporting the maximum number of cases. Maharashtra is the only Indian state to have registered over 1000 positive cases so far.

Despite the sharp spike in cases government officials have ruled out the possibility community transmission of the virus so far.

In neighbouring Pune, no hotspots have emerged so far said Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), even as it sealed regions of PCMC on Tuesday suspecting a number of positive cases. Thergaon, Kharalwadi, Digh and Chikhli sector 12 among others have been sealed.

Around 85% of Covid-19 positive cases been reported from the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) and Pune district. MMR includes Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai.

On Monday, around 92 staff members of the DY Patil Hospital in Maharashtra had been quarantined after an accident victim, who was being treated at the facility, tested positive for covid-19. All the 92 staff members have since tested negative.

Maharashtra is also classifying containment zones as simple zones (with one case) and cluster containment zones (with 3-5 cases) and creating a buffer zone around these containment zones.

"We're testing all close and high-risk contacts. So far, we've been testing the symptomatic people and doing large scale household surveys. These containment zones are being set up wherever there are cases," said Dr Anup Kumar Yadav, State Health Commissioner, Maharashtra.

On testing, Yadav said that it is a large scale exercise and there will be some issues. “But at the end, we will make sure that everybody is tested and isolated for the necessary quarantine period."

Kerala, however, held some good news with most number of recovered patients, at 84. The state is also slowly flattening the infection curve, pointing to a significant clamp down on community spread if any. No fresh cases have been reported in hotspots including Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kozhikode and Pathanamthitta for the last few days. The bulk of the fresh cases are now coming from three districts— Kasargod, Kannur and Malappuram— but there too, the rate of growth of infections is not doubling, and is much lesser than their highest surge before, unlike what is seen in other hotspots.

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, ever since it was found that over 1500 people attended the Tablighi Jamat’s religious congregation at the Markaz Nizamuddin in New Delhi last month, several hotspots have emerged.

While most of the cases in Telangana (including the Markaz attendees) were from Hyderabad, a containment area of three kilometres had to be created in Karimnagar district where 10 Indonesian nationals (Delhi attendees) were found by the district authorities. All of them tested positive for covid-19. Prior to this, most of the cases being reported in March were of people who had traveled abroad and returned to the state.

The cases in AP are however more varied, with Kurnool district having 74 of the state’s total 329 cases, followed by Nellore (49 cases) and Guntur (41) cases. The AP government has more work in its case given that its public healthcare system is not sufficient to deal with any surge in cases (unlike in Telangana where Hyderabad at least has many private hospitals apart from a handful of major government hospitals).

Moreover, in order to ensure that the virus does not spread further, the AP government has begun undertaking extra precautionary measures across the state. Areas where there are positive case are treated as ‘containment’ zones (5 km radius), wherein people in that particular perimeter cannot step out even during the relaxation period (6 a.m. to 11 a.m.).

For those in ‘containment zones’, essentials will be delivered to their respective doorsteps by volunteers. A buffer or red zone is also established within a 3km radius from the containment zone, as part of the extra precautions taken up by the government. Apart from that, hypo sodium chloride solution is also being sprayed both in the containment as well as buffer zones. Moreover, authorities are also following a strict 8-day procedure to completely sanitise areas in question, with a different sanitation process being followed on each of those eight days.

In Karnataka, 18 of the total 30 districts have reported at least one covid-19 positive case. India’s technology capital, Bengaluru accounts for 63 out of the total 181 cases reported in the state including one death. Around 16 people from Bengaluru have since recovered and been discharged from the hospital as well.

Mysuru, about 125 km from Bengaluru, has also been listed as a hotspot with 35 cases so far. A significant number of covid-19 positive cases in the city have been linked to a 35 year old executive from a pharmaceutical company in Mysuru who tested positive on 26 March.

Nanjangud taluk in Mysuru, Gauribidanur in Chikkaballapur and Kalaburagi had been termed as hotspots in Karnataka but had seen the number of cases from these regions decline over the last couple of days. On Wednesday, Kalaburagi reported that one 65 year old person had died after testing covid-19 positive, making it the second casualty in the district.

However, Bagalkote, about 480 km from Bengaluru, has seen a 38% increase in the number of cases in the last five days followed by Belagavi with 18.5% and 7% in Kalaburagi. According to the state health department, a large number of those testing positive in Karnataka are contacts of positive persons or linked to Tablighi Jamaat, a religious congregation in Delhi’s Nizamuddin. S.Suresh Kumar, Karnataka’s primary and secondary education minister on Tuesday said that the samples of 920 people linked to the Jamaat, of which 623 are negative and 27 are positive. Results for the remaining people are awaited.

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Updated: 08 Apr 2020, 07:58 PM IST
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