With a recovery rate of 58%, Pune city may not see a jump to reach 9,600 active positive COVID-19 cases by this month-end, as predicted by the Central team, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Commissioner Shekhar Gaikwad said on Sunday. “Despite the daily surge in cases, recovery rate has been robust as well,” he said.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Gaikwad said while he expected the number of active positive cases to remain well under 4,000 by early June, the civic administration was nevertheless equipped for the worst-case scenario.

“As per latest data, the city’s ratio of total active cases to total positive cases has declined from 65% on May 6 to 41% on May 21. The rate of doubling, if one considers the span from May 7 to May 21, has increased to 14 days,” he said.

PMC officials estimated that the figure of 9,600 active cases, as projected by the Central team surveying the situation in Pune city, would only be reached by June 30 if the present rate of doubling was maintained.

On May 7, the cumulative case tally stood at 2,146 while the active cases were at 1,350. “On May 21, the total case tally stood at 4,107 while the active cases were at 1,698. An average 100 patients have been discharged daily in the past fortnight,” Mr. Gaikwad said.

Revised guidelines

The Commissioner attributed the spike in recoveries to the revised guidelines issued by the Union Health Ministry a fortnight ago, which permit mild, very mild and pre-symptomatic patients to be discharged after 10 days of symptom onset and if they have no fever for three days.

The city’s mortality rate, however, continues to be on the higher side — 5.52% as opposed to the State’s 3.51% and the country’s 3.03%.

Mr. Gaikwad said the testing capacity, which is now more than 1,200 samples a day, would go up to 2,000 samples with new testing facilities coming up at Sassoon General Hospital.

He also said as per the State government’s directive to take control of 80% of the total beds in private hospitals, around 2,000 more beds from such establishments would be requisitioned to accommodate COVID-19 patients. Pune currently has 9,850 beds across all medical establishments, of which 2,122 are equipped with oxygen supply. However, only 271 of these are ICU beds while just 137 have attached ventilators.

Shortfall of ICU beds

“If we take the daily average case growth rate of 2.19%, our projections estimate 2,946 active cases by June 3, around 5,500 active cases by mid-June, and 9,700 active cases by June-end. In this event, given our present medical infrastructural capacity, we might have a shortfall of 200 ICU beds and more than 100 ventilators,” said an PMC official, requesting anonymity.

The official also urged private hospitals to improve their management systems so as to give critical COVID-19 patients top priority.

“In the best of times, private hospitals have enjoyed all benefits granted to them by the State. It should not be that the government and the civic administrations be forced to open their ‘third eye’ and take forcible control of their resources. They must come forward and open their doors to COVID-19 patients,” the official said.

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