Three more patients in close contact with the Pune couple, who were Maharashtra’s index patients to test positive for COVID-19, were discharged on Thursday after their repeat samples returned negative.
The couple, who were part of a 40-member tour group to Dubai, had tested positive on March 9 and following quarantine and treatment at the city’s Naidu Hospital, were finally discharged on Wednesday.
On March 10, the couple’s daughter, along with the cab driver who had ferried them from Mumbai airport to Pune, and another co-passenger from Yavatmal district had tested positive.
“Today, these three patients were discharged as well,” said Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram. Pune division has 43 positive cases, with 20 in Pune city and 12 in Pimpri-Chinchwad, nine in Sangli district and two in Satara, said Pune Divisional Commissioner Dr. Deepak Mhaisekar.
He said, “We have sent 926 samples to the National Institute of Virology (NIV). We have so far received the results of 862 samples of which 814 have returned negative and 42 have returned positive. The results of 64 samples are awaited.”
Meanwhile, Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner Shravan Hardikar said the samples of three of the 12 patients in the civic body after the 14-day incubation period tested negative. “We will be taking the repeat samples of these three patients on Friday. If they return negative, then they will be discharged soon,” he said.
So far, 1,200-odd people have been kept in home quarantine following screenings by 50 surveillance teams formed by the civic body.
Mr. Hardikar said testing facilities would begin in eight centres across the civic body and there is provision for 2,500 beds in different hospitals and places to be used as quarantine facilities across Pimpri-Chinchwad, which has not seen a rise in cases in the past few days.
There was some measure of relief from Aurangabad as well after the latest batch of 23 samples sent to the NIV for testing returned negative, said District Medical Officer Dr. S.V. Kulkarni.
The lone positive case in the district, a woman with a travel history to Russia and Kazakhstan, who had tested positive for COVID-19, was discharged earlier this week.
1,000 in home quarantine
Currently, more than 1,000 persons are in home quarantine. However, more worryingly, medical staff at Aurangabad’s General Civil Hospital in Chikalthana have complained of shortage of protective gear, sanitisers and handwash facilities for the personnel — a sign of the State’s medical infrastructure being stretched to breaking point.
Meanwhile, close on the heels of the Pune district administration’s directive to petrol dealers to stop supplying fuel to all vehicles except those engaged in essential services, the Sangli district authorities followed suit.
In a bid to discourage crowding at vegetable outlets and grocery stores, authorities in Pune, Kolhapur and Sangli have urged vegetable sellers and shopkeepers to strictly enforce social distancing measures by putting customers in queues and designating a block for each customer with requisite distance between them. Even then, large congregations were witnessed at some points in Pune as customers milled about to buy groceries and essentials.
“While traffic density in Pune has significantly reduced since the announcement of the nationwide lockdown, 10-15% people are still not being serious about the crisis. We have observed that in the morning and late in the evening, this section is needlessly stepping out of their homes and violating lockdown orders,” said Pune District Collector Naval Kishore Ram, warning strict action against such offenders.
Stating that there would not be any problems for farmers to pick their crops and sell their produce in marketplaces, he urged people not to drop their guard even if the number of COVID-19 cases happened to reduce in Pune district in the coming weeks.