Infection in doctors, vegetable vendors, shopkeepers in Pune cause of concern: MHA
New Delhi, Apr 27: An Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) has expressed its concern that doctors, vegetable vendors and shopkeepers, who come in contact with a number of people each day, have been infected with the coronavirus in Maharashtra's Pune, a senior official said on Monday.
The team, headed by an additional secretary-rank officer and comprising experts from the healthcare and disaster management verticals, has also found that the doubling rate of COVID-19 in Pune, the second-largest city in Maharasthra after state capital Mumbai, is higher than the country's average and social-distancing norms are not being followed properly in slums, markets and other places in the city.
Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Punya Salila Srivastava told reporters that the IMCT, dispatched to assess the ground situation of the pandemic in the metropolis, has suggested that high-risk people should be identified quickly and surveillance, testing and contact-tracing should be increased.
In Pune, the team visited the containment zones of Pimpri-Chinchwad, Kharadwadi and Baramati, apart from shelter camps for migrant labourers, vegetable markets, PDS shops, the municipal corporation control room and hospitals, she said. It found out that in Pune, the COVID-19 doubling rate is seven days, which is slightly higher compared to the rest of the country, Srivastava said.
While the country's average is one positive case of coronavirus among 23 samples, in Pune, it is one positive case in nine samples, she added.
In slums, markets and other places, where social-distancing norms are not being followed properly, protocols need to be enforced strictly, Srivastava said, citing the IMCT recommendations. Rather than home quarantine, institutional quarantine is essential in slums, she said.
Doctors, paramedics, police personnel, vegetable vendors and other essential services-providing shopkeepers have been found to be COVID-19 positive in Pune and it is a matter of concern as they come in contact with many people every day, Srivastava said.
The central team suggested that it should be ensured that protocols are followed strictly by these people on the ground so that they do not contract the virus or become its carriers in the course of their duty.
Srivastava said the team also held a video-conference with the chief minister and other senior officials of Maharashtra. She also briefed the press about another IMCT's visit to Rajasthan's capital city Jaipur.
The team went to hospitals, quarantine centres, containment zones and relief camps for labourers, she said. The team met the chief secretary of Rajasthan and other officials, and suggested that strict steps should be taken so that the lockdown is not violated in the walled city during the evening hours.
The team suggested that ration and other supplies should be more systematic, quarantine camps should be taken away from residential areas and asked state government authorities to increase the speed of test results.
It also suggested that non-COVID-19 hospitals be identified so that people can get other healthcare facilities, Srivastava said. "The IMCTs found out that the local administration in both the districts (Pune and Jaipur) is working with dedication and with these suggestions, they will be able to better the situation," she added.
Srivastava said the IMCTs were constituted by the MHA under the Disaster Management Act and the aim is to share their expertise so that the Centre and the states can jointly make successful efforts to combat the coronavirus.