Local authorities have sealed parts of Pune in an emergency measure and fanned out to survey thousands of households, suspecting coronavirus infections may have spread to the community in parts of Maharashtra’s second largest city.
In an order issued on Monday night reviewed by Mint, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) sealed Pune’s central region and Kondhwa area, effective from the midnight of 6 April, barring over a fourth of Pune’s population from leaving their homes and apartment complexes until further notice.
“Both these areas (central Pune and Kondhwa) have now been sealed, in the sense that no one will be allowed to go in or out of these localities until we have surveyed all the homes there. We have deployed around 15 teams in these areas that will survey each house, as the contamination seems to have spread in the community,” PMC commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad told Mint over the phone.
Central Pune and Kondhwa account for 8-10 lakh of Pune’s population of close to 40 lakh, according to population estimates made by the local corporation in 2018.
Further, parts of Pimpri Chinchwad, parts of the greater Pune metropolitan region, will also be sealed from Wednesday, including housing societies in Padwalnagar, Kharalwadi and Gharkul, a source from PMC said, requesting anonymity.
As of 7 April, there were 141 covid-19 cases in Pune, including Pimpri-Chinchwad and rural areas, of which eight had died. In Maharashtra, Pune had the highest cases after Mumbai, which had 642 confirmed cases and 40 deaths. So far, Maharashtra is the worst affected by the covid-19 pandemic, with a total of 1,018 cases and 52 deaths, according to the state public health department.
“The Pune Municipal Corporation has implemented emergency prohibition procedures across these locations in Pune to control the highly contagious coronavirus disease,” said the PMC order, seen by Mint. “The number of positive cases in Pune are rising daily, and it is difficult to deny that more positive cases may rise in Pune after taking into consideration the total number of positive cases in India,” the 6 April order said.
In the containment zones, all private vehicle movement has been banned while individuals who step outside their homes must wear masks. The containment, however, excludes vegetable vendors/agriculture-related transport, essentials including grocery and medical, institutional and government vehicles.The residents in the sealed areas have also been advised to stock up seven-days’ worth of essential supplies.
“We have seen an increase in covid-19 cases in last 3-4 days in these areas,” Naval Kishore Ram, District Collector, Pune, told Mint over a phone interview. “We identified hamlets and peth areas, and portions of Kondhwa, Gultekdi and found that the cases are concentrated there. So we’ve asked people to stay home and restrict movement within these areas. All essentials will be supplied to them. We have sent out teams to distribute masks to residents, conduct surveys and anybody with a cough or a fever is being tested for covid-19. We are now testing more than 200 people every day.”
A 21sq. km radius in central Pune, which includes localities such as Maharshi Nagar, Mukund Nagar, Swargate, Ghorpadi, Bhawani Peth, Shukrawar Peth, Raviwar Peth, Shaniwar Peth, Rasta Peth, Mangalwar Peth, Somwar Peth, Nana Peth, Kasba Peth, Kashewadi Narayan Peth and Salisbury Park, besides an about 7sq.km area in Kondhwa, have been sealed, said Gaikwad.
“There were 37 cases in a concentrated area in the central region, also called old Poona, where we issued an order to seal the entire area last night. In Kondhwa region, too, we found six covid-19 positive cases among those who had come in contact with few families that came back from Delhi,” he added.
These peth areas that are part of the containment zone are densely packed homes, built decades ago and part of the old city. They are often seen as the traditional heart of Pune which preserves the city’s rich Maratha heritage. Kondhwa is a more upscale suburb of Pune, with high rises, apartment complexes, major hospitals and premier educational institutes like National Institute of Bank Management. Kondhwa is also home to a significant Muslim population. City officials said some Pune residents had attended the Tablighi Jamaat meeting in Delhi in March. Many attendees of the jamaat meeting later turned out to be carriers of the virus.
“We’re not seeing this as a Jamaat issue,” Ram clarified to Mint. “There are some people had gone to Delhi and came back to Pune and we identified the people who tested positive. They are spread across the city and it is one of the reasons for the spread in Pune. Wherever we see a high number of cases, we are sealing those areas. There are people within these localities who work outside in stores or in factories. We want people in these localities to stay in their colonies for now.”
Of the total deaths in Maharashtra, nearly three-quarters are men, and about 60% of casualties were people above the age of 61. Most patients who died in the state had other co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension and other serious illnesses.
The majority of the dead also did not have any international travel history but suffered from pre-existing health conditions, a statement by the government said.
While 35,694 people were put in home quarantine and 4,008 people in institutional quarantine in Maharashtra, 79 patients were discharged after full recovery, as of 7 April. There were a total of 3,492 squads working across the state, while a survey of over 12 lakh people have already been surveyed.
News Source: Livemint