Mumbai, India’s financial capital and its most populous city, has been under constant limelight during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, a city half its size and approximately one-third the population, has slowly emerged as the new major hotspot in Maharashtra, and India.
Pune, located 150 kms south-east of Mumbai, reported 3,196 cases on July 26 - the highest number for any city in India on the day. The city recorded more than 3,000 cases continuously for 5 days between the July 22 to July 26.
SURGE IN CASES AND POSITIVITY RATE
Pune saw a sudden increase in the number of daily cases from the end of June. The city's cases have risen by more than three times in July itself and its growth multiple is second only to Bengaluru during this time-frame.
One of the reasons for the reported rise in cases has been the increased testing in the city. However, with increased testing, the Positivity Rate normally registers a dip which has not been the case with Pune. The Positivity Rate has gone up from 16.04% (on July 1) to 22.10% (on July 27).
A major factor contributing to the high return of positive tests in the city could be its strategy of conducting more focused and determined testing including a large percentage of high-risk contacts.
MORE CASES THAN MUMBAI FOR 2 WEEKS
Pune has now recorded more daily cases than Mumbai for a successive 14-day period. The gap has also been steadily increasing.
Pune’s Positivity Rate (PR) has gone up in July. Its Weekly PR on July 27 was as high as 25.67%, which signals that between July 21 and 27, one in every 4 people tested in Pune were positive. The corresponding percentage for Mumbai is 18.26%.
MORTALITY RATE STILL LOW
Where Pune has done well is in controlling the number of Covid-19 deaths. With 1,838 fatalities, its Mortality Rate (MR) of 2.35% is less than half of Mumbai’s (5.57%) and has come down significantly from 3.36% on July 1 – this is not surprising as with ramped up testing the Mortality Rate usually sees a dip.
However, it is still slightly higher than the national average of 2.25% and the number of weekly Covid-19 deaths have risen from 149 for week ending July 6 to 238 (July 13) to 274 (July 20) to 437 (July 27). This would be a concern to Pune which is home to a large elderly and retired population.
LOCKDOWN – HIGH POSITIVITY RATE BUT LOW MORTALITY
Pune went in for a strict 10-day lockdown between July 14 to July 23. With more testing, it recorded 26,358 cases during this period and even though the Positivity Rate did come down from an alarming high of 34% during the previous 10 days (July 4-13), it was still high at 22.63%.
Apart from strategic testing, over-crowding on roads and at shops after the announcement of the severe lockdown; resulted in the infection-spread not coming down even with a lockdown.
There were 301 deaths reported between July 4 and July 13. Although the number of deceased went up to 465, the Mortality Rate came down to 1.76% during the lockdown, compared to 2.04% earlier.
As the cases rise, the administration in Pune has taken a number of steps to ramp up the infrastructure and health facilities. The city will have three jumbo Covid care facilities with a total capacity of 2,400 beds by the end of August.
The first confirmed case of Covid-19 in Maharashtra was reported on March 9 in Pune when a couple returning from Dubai tested positive. With the city emerging as the new major hotspot, the pandemic has come a full circle to haunt Pune.