Many districts have recorded an increase in average daily Covid-19 deaths in the last three weeks even as the state’s average has dropped, data analysed by The Indian Express shows. Six districts — Ratnagiri, Beed, Sindhudurg, Raigad, Satara and Amravati — have witnessed a noticeable rise in average daily deaths.
The state’s weekly data shows daily Covid deaths dropped from 30.7 between January 29 and February 4 to 22.85 between February 5 and 11, and rose slightly to 31.1 deaths per day last week.
In Amravati, it rose from 0.85 deaths a day between February 5 and 11 to 1.71 between February 12 and 18. In the same period, Satara rose from 0.85 to 1.14 deaths, Beed from 0.57 to 1.28, and Raigad from 1.85 to 5.7 average deaths a day. Maharashtra accounts for 51,669 deaths, one-third of India’s toll.
In Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg districts, while there is a rise in deaths, there is no noticeable spike in active cases. This has been attributed to poor contact tracing in districts and lower testing.
Dr Sanjay Oak, who is heading the state task force, said testing numbers needed to rise. “And over-reliance on antigen tests should be done away with,” he added.
Ratnagiri noted average daily deaths rise from 0.14 to 1.28 in the last three weeks. Dr Shashank Joshi, member of the state task force and has described Ratnagiri as an “outlier” for the high case fatality from the beginning, said a combination of factors were behind the rise in Covid-19 fatality in parts of the state. “People are coming in late for treatment; in some districts, hospital doctors need to be trained,” Joshi said.
In Nagpur, district officials reported that several patients first went to private doctors who dismissed the symptoms as seasonal flu and by the time patients reached a Covid hospital, their condition would become severe.
In Beed, a senior health official said they had reported to the state government about poor management of patients in the intensive care unit and lack of proper death audit. “A lot of doctors we have are on contract basis. Monitoring of patients remains poor. We need specialist doctors,” the official said.
Beed district health officer Dr Radhakishan Pawar said the roll-out of the vaccine had reduced the fear of the virus among people. “Several dismiss their symptoms as cough and cold,” he added.
By next week, video capsules of nine expert doctors from the state Covid task force will be uploaded on state portals for all government doctors. These short videos will explain how to assess patients as severe and moderate, intensive care treatment, and kind of treatment for cases at risk of becoming severe.
Task force members held a three-hour session earlier this week with medical colleges, civil hospitals and Directorate of Medical Education and Research. “We are reinforcing treatment protocol that we clinically learned and framed in the last few months, based on our experience. So far we have not found any discrepancy in the treatment, but are yet to gather data on how soon a Covid patient is referred to a hospital. That could indicate if testing and tracing is being delayed,” said Dr Rahul Pandit, member of the task force.
In Amravati, daily deaths have doubled in the last two weeks. Civil surgeon Dr Shyamsunder Nikam said they had strengthened contact tracing and early diagnosis to prevent mortality. “But our active cases have risen from fewer than 500 to over 4,000. Deaths are bound to rise,” Nikam said. Across Maharashtra, 587 Covid deaths have been reported this month.
State officials said even if a mutation was responsible for increased infectivity, symptoms in most cases were mild and required home isolation. Maharashtra has 2.16 lakh people in home isolation, up from 1.92 lakh at the beginning of February. Another 1,743 are in institutional isolation.
Dr Joshi from the state task force said they had advised the government to restart the concept of institutional quarantine for the entire population in areas where cases were reported in clusters. Achalpur and Amravati corporations in Amravati district; Pusad, Yeotmal, Pandharkawda in Yavatmal district; Akot, Murtizapur talukas, and Akola corporation in Akola district have reported a cluster of cases. “Last year, this helped in Dharavi to contain cases; we have to bring back these protocols,” Joshi said.
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