Coronavirus scare: 59-year-old from Aurangabad, woman from Pimpri-Chinchwad test positive

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State Health Minister Rajesh Tope visits Kasturba hospital in Mumbai on Sunday. (Photo: Ganesh Shirsekar)

A 59-year-old Aurangabad woman, who visited Russia and Kazakhstan, and a Pimpri-Chinchwad woman, who travelled to Japan, have tested positive for Covid-19 infection bringing the state tally to 33 on Sunday.

The Aurangabad native remains admitted in Dhoot hospital and is stable. Officials said the process of tracing her close contacts and people she met since she landed in India on March 3 is on. The woman had travelled to Russia on February 23 and then to Kazakhstan. She remained in the community for 11 days before getting diagnosed.

Across the state, there are eight residents from Pune, nine from Pimpri Chinchwad, five from Mumbai, four from Nagpur and the rest from Yevatmal, Thane, Navi Mumbai and Aurangabad who have tested positive.

On Sunday, urging people to practise ‘social distancing’, state health minister Rajesh Tope said, “That’s the buzz word. Offices are advised to encourage work from home. We have written to MPSC chairman to postpone exams, and people should avoid trains unless it’s urgent”.

At least 98 people suspected to have coronavirus remain admitted in isolation facilities in Mumbai. The state has 450 ventilators ready in government hospitals for severe cases of Covid-19 infection, although so far all 33 remain stable.

“We are setting up new diagnostic laboratories in KEM, JJ, BJ Medical college and Haffkine Institute to test 250 samples each. Kasturba hospital’s capacity will be increased from 100 to 350,” Tope said. The KEM hospital diagnostic laboratory will start testing samples from Wednesday. With that Mumbai will be able to test at least 600 samples a day.

So far, 758 people in the state have been tested for coronavirus and 669 have come negative. At least 1.81 lakh people have been screened at airports in Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune in 1,584 flights.

The state health minister visited Seven Hills and Kasturba hospital to see its preparations. Seven Hills currently has 400 beds isolated for patients, and has capacity to expand to 1,000 beds. In Kasturba, currently all 80 beds are filled and capacity will be ramped up to 125. In addition, 32 television sets, wifi and newspapers will be placed in isolation wards to keep patients occupied.

National Health Mission director Anup Kumar Yadav said the Epidemic Act, 1897, will now give powers to state officials to convert any private hospital into isolation facility and take action against people who do not go under self-isolation if they have a travel history and develop symptoms of cough, cold, breathlessness and fever.

The state health ministry has also instructed all traffic police officers to not conduct breath analyser test for drivers to avoid physical contact and possible transmission of virus. Meanwhile, the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association in a press release stated that shootings for all entertainment formats would be stopped from March 19 to March 31, following the outbreak of COVID 19.