As Covid-19 cases rise again in Pune district, the severity of infections and the hospitalization rate were lower than previous waves of infection, Pune District Commissioner Saurabh Rao said on Saturday.
Rao was speaking after meeting with representatives of local industries in Pune. The Pune Platform for Covid-19 Response (PPCR) meeting, hosted by the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, was held to review the district’s readiness of Pune to deal with the spread of the Omicron variant.
Rao said that while Covid-19 cases were increasing exponentially in Maharashtra, Konkan and Pune divisions had higher numbers in the state. In Pune Division, 22% of cases were from Pune District and the state government was constantly monitoring the situation.
“We have regularly held high-level meetings to assess the situation and plan a package of measures to deal with the upsurge in cases. Fortunately, we are much better prepared for the third wave due to the defined treatment protocols and the higher number of doctors and medical staff. Confidence of family members and caregivers has also been at higher levels due to past experience and greater awareness. Infrastructure facilities have also seen a dramatic increase since the first and second waves. Pune, thanks in large part to the efforts of the PPCR and private industries, can boast of having the highest number of beds per million people in the country, ”said Rao.
He added, however, that the exponential increase in the number of cases was a cause for concern. “But we are preparing for higher numbers with all due care,” Rao said.
As the number of cases increased, the hospitalization rate was low and the majority of hospitalizations were done as a precautionary measure, he said. “There aren’t a lot of critical cases in hospitals at the moment,” Rao said.
The government of Maharashtra has set up a centralized system for managing Covid care beds. Rao said Covid care centers and giant isolation centers were also being set up in each district.
He said, however, that the state government was moving very cautiously in implementing restrictions on economic activities. At this time, there are no new restrictions in place in the Pune Division. The situation will be reviewed next week and a decision will be taken after consultation with all stakeholders, in order to avoid any knee-jerk reaction that would negatively affect economic activities.
“With the support of the PPCR, we did quite well in the first and second waves of Covid,” said Rao. He expressed hope that the situation would be under control in the next six to eight weeks.
Sudhir Mehta, president of the Mahratta Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, who is also the chief and coordinator of the Pune platform for the response to Covid-19, stressed the need to prepare to deal with the possible increase in the number of cases due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. He called on government officials and doctors to make suggestions to help turn the situation around over the coming weeks.
Dr Dhananjay Kelkar, medical director of Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital, pointed out that the number of breakthrough infections has increased. Of the 78 Covid-19 patients admitted to hospital, 68 were fully vaccinated. He insisted on the need to open isolation centers.
Ruby Hall Managing Director and Chief Cardiologist Dr Purvez Grant has suggested that Novovax, the latest vaccine approved in India, be given to anyone who has received two doses of Covishield. He also said that the cases of patients admitted to Ruby Hall hospitals in Hinjawadi and Pune were so mild that none had so far required ventilators.
He also warned that the number of Omicron cases could reach 10 lakh by the end of January.
According to experts, in the coming days the total number of cases due to Omicron could represent around 75% of the total infections and in the next two to three weeks Omicron will replace the Delta variant and its sublines.
PMC Commissioner Vikram Kumar also mentioned that in the third wave, so far, “we have seen very low levels of hospitalization. Only 2% of patients are in intensive care or on oxygen to date. ”
However, the substantial increase in the number of cases could result in the postponement of some elective surgeries in hospitals treating Covid-19 patients in the coming weeks. Medical students may need to be deployed to hospitals to treat coronavirus cases again, experts have said.
State reports 133 new Omicron cases, 129 from Pune
The district of Pune reported 4,348 cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, according to the Pune Ministry of Health Zilla Parishad. As many as 865 patients have successfully recovered and been discharged while two deaths have been reported by the Pune Municipal Corporation.
Maharashtra also reported 133 new cases of Omicron that day, of which 129 patients are from Pune. The Pune Municipal Corporation reported 118 cases of the new variant, followed by Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (8), Pune Rural (3), Vasai Virar (2) and one each from Mumbai and Ahmednagar. The state has so far reported 1,009 Omicron cases, of which 439 patients were successfully discharged following negative RT-PCR tests.
In terms of the area distribution of 4,348 cases of Covid-19 in Pune, PMC reported 2,471 cases, followed by PCMC (1,073), Pune Rural (578), Councils (NP) (151) and Cantonment (75) . The number of active cases in the district rose 22.6%, crossing the 18,000 mark that day. Currently, it stands at 18,857, among which PMC has the highest number of cases with 11,550 (61.3%), followed by PCMC at 4,165 (22.1%), Pune Rural at 2,271 (12 %), Councils (NP) at 554 (2.9%) and Cantonments at 317 (1.7%).
The number of samples tested continues to increase with 34,524 tests performed in the district.
So far, Pune has seen 11 83,676 cases of Covid-19, of which 11,455,560 patients have successfully recovered while 19,266 patients have died.