Coronavirus in Maharashtra: Officials scramble as virus rages towards rural areas

State authorities are wary about the rising number of cases over the past few days. Covid-19 active cases in Maharashtra increased by 31.68 per cent in the last 10 days. The state now has 2,61,432 active patients, more than a fourth cases in the country (9,47,831), leading to the fall in the recovery rate over last week. Officials said the rising number in the active cases is a cause of concern as it will put additional burden on the health infrastructure. In a few districts where cases are rising, the infrastructure has not been ramped up to handle the load of additional cases.

Data analysed by FPJ revealed that the hotspot is shifting towards rural Maharashtra. Four districts have more than 100 per cent active cases. Bhandara has recorded 162% growth in the last 10 days, followed by Gondia (144.46%), Sindhudurg (102.15%) and Wardha (101.72%). “On September 1, Bhandara had 534 active cases which increased to 1,402 on September 10. During the same period, the active cases in Gondia increased to 1,413 from 578, followed by Sindhudurg (1,219) and Wardha (1,055),” said a health official.

Many hospitals in these regions are facing shortage of medical staff and essential drugs. To address the issue of the oxygen crisis especially in far off rural parts of the state, the health department has started control rooms in all the districts. However, they often face problems in transporting the oxygen when sudden needs arrive. “A meeting was conducted with all the district officers regarding the current situation. After receiving complaints of shortage of essential drugs and oxygen cylinders, we instructed them to procure dura oxygen cylinders on priority. After receiving their list of requirements from 16 districts, we have already handed over the jumbo cylinders to them,” said Dr Archana Patil, director of health, Maharashtra.

These were green zones once. Now, they are getting a greater number of COVID-19 cases which are resulting in an increase in active cases. Earlier, an average of 34 cases were reported on a daily basis which has now increased to over 100. “We were expecting the spurt in cases after opening up of inter-district movement, workforce in private and public offices and Ganesh festival. The active cases will keep rising at least for two more weeks. Our mechanism for the tracking and tracing of high- and low-risk contacts is resulting in the rapid rise in number. The lack of coordination between the public health and medical education departments is a hindrance in ramping up infrastructure in few districts, where there is a surge in cases,” said a senior doctor from the state health department.

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