A central team, headed by the Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal, has raised alarm over the rising COVID-19 cases in Thane, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan, Dombivli, Ulhasnagar, Palghar, Pune, Jalgaon, Solapur, Akola and Aurangabad. The team, which visited few districts in the last two days, held a meeting with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and suggested that the state government needs to emulate Chase the Virus and Mission Zero initiatives carried out successfully in Mumbai to curb the spread of the virus.
A senior bureaucrat, who was present at the meeting with the central team, told the Free Press Journal, “Thane, Palghar, Pune, Jalgaon and Solapur are coronavirus hotspots, but now have emerged as epicentres. The central team wants the state government to direct the district and civil administration to step up their containment strategy by focusing on tracing, tracking, testing and treatment.’’ He informed that the team hailed BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation's (BMC) early detection and reaching out to the patients strategy and suggested that it will have to be quickly followed in these districts.
The team is worried over the R factor in these districts. R refers to the effective reproduction number. It is a way of measuring an infectious disease’s capacity to spread. The R number signifies the average number of people that one infected person will pass the virus to. “In Palghar district, R is quite high at 1.41. In the Thane, Jalgaon, Solapur, Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and Akola districts, it ranges between 1.20 and 1.31, which is still on a higher side,’’ the officer said.
Mumbai University Professor Dr Neeraj Hatekar, who has been tracking the COVID-19 pandemic since March, said the worst is over in Mumbai, but the situation in Jalgaon and Solapur is alarming. “The state government needs to provide greater infrastructure at the local level. Besides, more focused decisions at the district level are needed to effectively deal with the situation,” he noted.
Further, the central team was concerned about the mortality rate, which is as high as 7.69 per cent in Jalgaon, 5.92 per cent in Nashik, 5.25 per cent in Akola and 5.17 per cent in Aurangabad.
Leading endocrinologist, diabetologist and medical researcher Dr Shashank Joshi argued that early detection and prompt treatment is the key to save lives amidst the pandemic. “Chasing the Virus policy was the key to success in Mumbai and, if applied to the other hotspots, it will clearly dent mortality in areas like Jalgaon, Solapur and Aurangabad,” he viewed.