Pune has been among the worst hot spots for Corona cases for the past four to five months, overtaking Mumbai and at times, every metro city across the country. That was until end of September.
Suddenly, we hear of dip in cases since the first week of October. Is this for real?
Pune was raging with Coronavirus cases, making it one of the prime hot spots of the country. That was relentless from March to September 2020. Now suddenly, since the first week of October, there have apparently been 56% drop in cases but it’s worth nothing that testing too has fallen by 28% as per news reports.
So, is Pune really experiencing the waning away of the pandemic or will it surge again like it did in cities in Kerala?
It would be wise to wait and watch whether the state government and the local authorities, that is the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) and the Pune District Collectorate have indeed achieved the needful to control the pandemic in Pune or are hoodwinking the public, by decreasing testing. The concern accentuates, considering the fact that now restaurants and bars services have opened up since the last week. Therefore, social interactions and proximity to people is only going to increase. And with it, spread of infection.
Predictably, there are stern guidelines by the Maharashtra government for opening up eating places. They comprise wearing of face masks except while eating of course.
The restaurant management has to ensure social distancing, availability of hand sanitisers, regular cleaning of restrooms and hand washing areas, and Plexiglas or similar such screens at cash counters. Also, only asymptomatic persons can enter eating places but wonder how simple it is to ensure the restaurant management monitors that?
Pune’s situation has been out of control since the onset of the pandemic in March, due to varied reasons.
The Pune Airport brings in a lot of internationally flying travellers, be it for business or personal purposes. The self-quarantine of 14 days advocated to them by the local authorities, upon landing in Pune, was not systematically monitored officially and many of the passengers did not follow the protocol strictly, once they reached their homes.
I had myself reported to the local authorities a family which arrived from Italy in April (remember, Italy had the highest number of Covid cases in the world at that time) but did not self-quarantine.
The main failure was in the medical facilities, medical care and medical management. Three Jumbo Covid Hospitals have been built on College of Engineering, Pune grounds and Balewadi Stadium in PMC limits and Annasaheb Magar Stadium in PCMC limits, with 1914 beds in all. However, while infrastructure was ready, there was dearth of ICU beds, ventilator facilities and even doctors and nurses.
Thus, several patients were turned back or met an unfortunate death due to lack of immediate emergency attendance. Stories of families of patients going around in an ambulance knocking at a string of private hospitals for a hospital bed had become a common norm. It was excruciating to read such stories of needless deaths. It included Pandurang Raikar, a TV9 journalist, who died of Covid because, first he did not get a hospital bed and when he got one due to intervention of political leader Ajit Pawar, there was no ambulance with oxygen facility to take him there. He passed away. Such was the mismanagement of the local authorities in their inability to manage emergency equipment and crisis. Also, patients were left in fear in their hospital beds, as none of the family members (obviously) could meet their near one suffering from Covid and the patient could not connect to the family as he could keep the mobile with him. This brought in a lot of emotional crisis for the patients. The other problem was the lack of proper food as it was served erratically by the hospital staff and several patients have gone to say about the bad quality food.
The proverbial last straw on the Camel’s back came when one of the Covid hospitals leased out to a private company for its management, withdrew against the backdrop of criticism of continuous fatalities. Soon 40 doctors and 20 nurses too resigned, again putting the lives of patients in danger.
Finally, good sense has prevailed and the PMC has now rectified the flaws by taking over the Jumbo Covid Hospital, keeping its own monitoring staff, augmenting the number of ventilators and appointing the required number of doctors and nurses.
Also CC TVs have been installed for supervision of the staff and patients and video call facility is available for patients who can communicate with their family members, once a day.
Now, what citizens demand is transparency about the present situation of the pandemic in our city. And not one that may be portrayed for the sake of building morale.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and/or individuals or organisations that may be quoted and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same.
That's Vinita Deshmukh, Senior journalist and RTI activist who believes in journalism that reflects the views and needs of the common man.
Get Real And Stay Relevant says Vinita,
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