Maharashtra Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope
Maharashtra Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope

Burgeoning Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra is a matter of concern but there is no rocket science to control them. In an exclusive interview with FPJ, Health Minister Rajesh Tope spells out the government strategy to control the virus spread.

What is your take on the rising Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra?

It is a matter of serious concern. There is no rocket science for bringing down cases but the state government is focusing on its preparedness to effectively handle the present situation by aggressive tracing, tracking, testing, and treatment. Besides, the citizens should follow strict discipline. They should wear masks, use sanitizers, keep public distancing and do not venture out of homes unnecessarily.

There has been total transparency as the state is not hiding a number of active cases or deaths. Testing numbers are uploaded on the Central portal in real time. The government has been since beginning pursuing RT-PCR tests so that patients detected positive can be treated immediately and they are isolated to avoid virus spread.

The government is worried over rising cases and it is involved to put in place adequate Oxygen beds, ICU beds, and medicines. This apart, the government wants to focus on aggressive vaccination.

What is the nature of patients now compared to those detected during the peak period last year?

Almost 85% to 90% of cases are asymptomatic and not serious during the second wave. The virus impact is mild and not severe. For asymptomatic patients, they will have to be home quarantined or during hospital admission, they will not need oxygen beds or ventilator beds. In Mumbai, there are 15,263 active patients of which 9,500 are asymptomatic while 5,000 are symptomatic with fever and cough. However, there are only 400 critical patients.

There has been no shortage of beds in Mumbai. There are 8,085 Oxygen beds of which 5,000 are vacant. Of the 942 ventilator beds, 400 are available. In other districts too bed availability is not an issue. However, there may be an issue in specific hospitals. There have been vacant beds available in government and private hospitals. The jumbo facilities in Mumbai, Pune, and Nagpur have not been dismantled but kept in working conditions to treat rising patients.

How is the state government geared up for vaccination?

I must tell you here the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the video conference yesterday praised the state government’s vaccination drive. Maharashtra is leading the pack. Though the state government has urged the Centre to supply 20 lakh doses a week. More than 36 lakh doses have been given. The government is resolved to administer 3 lakh or more vaccines per day and now the state has just 10 days of stock that has remained. The state has also appealed to the Centre to allow administering vaccines to people below 45 years of age.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah was not happy over the pace of vaccination. What you have to say?

Home Minister has expressed certain expectations that the state government needs to fulfil in vaccination. Making suggestions is the Centre’s job and it is the state government’s job to accept them with open mind and implement them in the larger interest of the citizens of the state.

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