NCP chief Sharad Pawar has been camped out in Pune for the past three days, meeting district and health officials, as well as party workers, to discuss ways to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr Pawar told officials he was alarmed by the number of people – he put it at between 25 and 30 per cent – not wearing face masks or following social distancing protocols while in public, and said it was important for the city’s residents to co-operate with the government in order to contain and suppress the infectious virus.
“In view of the increasing number of coronavirus patients, segregation (isolation) facilities should be made available in new buildings. Ambulances equipped with various facilities, including oxygen, should be made available on time and immediately if required,” Mr Pawar said.
The veteran politician also suggested that government property be used as isolation facilities if needed.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, who was born in Pune, and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar also toured the city yesterday to review measures being taken by the government. Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope also attended.
Pune district, which includes Pune city, has seen a worrying spike in Covid infections over the past 72 hours, with the more than 4,000 cases detected on Saturday taking the total past the 1.03 lakh mark.
Ajit Pawar appealed to the residents of the city to play their part in containing the virus and not let their guard down.
“To arrest the spread of this Covid, wearing masks, using sanitiser, maintaining physical distance is a must. People think this is not necessary now. But no, it is absolutely necessary,” the Deputy Chief Minister said.
The district is now the worst-affected in Maharashtra and was red-flagged by the Union Health Ministry on Saturday as one of 11 “districts of concern” in the state.
Maharashtra, as a whole, remains the worst-affected state in the country with nearly nine lakh confirmed cases; of these, over 26,000 are deaths linked to the virus and around 2.21 lakh are active cases.
The state has reported a massive 90,000+ new cases over the past five days alone, with the past two 24-hour periods each revealing single-day record spikes. On Saturday the state crossed the 20,000-mark in daily cases for the first time.
Against the backdrop of these rising numbers Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced last week that his government would start a state-wide door-to-door campaign, starting September 15, to not only screen for Covid but also educate people about the disease and ways to combat it.
The scheme – “My Family, My Responsibility” – to cover 2.25 crore families in the state. It will be spread over two phases – September 15 to October 10 and October 12 to October 24.