Pune is amidst the throes of a raging coronavirus outbreak, with the total number of caseloads in the district crossing the 2.6 lakh mark. 2580 new cases were reported on Monday with 42 more deceased due to the virus, taking the death toll to 5306.
However, despite being smaller than many other cities in the country and having substantially lower population than Mumbai and Delhi, Pune’s emergence as the newest and the most potent coronavirus hotspot raised questions on the state government’s ability to contain the virus.
The state apathy towards taming the virus in Pune was also highlighted by BJP MLA Siddharth Shirole in August this month, who had remarked that the Maha Vikas Aghadi government was not dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in Pune in a professional manner, leading to a meteoric rise in the number of cases.
Now, the details received by OpIndia confirm the allegations levelled by Siddharth Shirole against the Maha Vikas Aghadi government. The details reveal that the medical facilities in Pune remain woefully underutilised even as patients and hospitals in the city grapple with the paucity of medical equipment, ventilators and beds.
Jumbo covid facilities in Maharashtra remain woefully underutilised
After months of persuasion and persistent requests, the Maharashtra government had agreed to build JUMBO COVID hospitals, with the view to provide medical facilities to the sick and contain the spread of the virus. The hospitals were inaugurated by CM Uddhav Thackeray and Deputy CM Ajit Pawar via video conference on August 23 and 25.
A total of 1914 beds (critical care ICU + Ventilators) were launched with pomp and celebrations almost a month back. However, the hospitals have not been operating on its original capacity. Within the first week of its operation, the original medical care contractor was dismissed, and the responsibility of managing the health facilities was pushed on the ill-prepared Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC). But this is not the worst part. Despite having the capacity of 1914 beds, the facility is operating at approximately 50 per cent of its original potential, even after a month since its start.
Here are the utilisation numbers of the JUMBO hospitals launched in August:-
- COEP Ground, PMC – 330 ( 41% of the total capacity of 800 )( 270 Oxygen, 30 ICU w/o Ventilator, 20 ICU with Ventilator )
- Aundh-Baner DCH, PMC – 227 ( 65% of the total capacity of 350 )( 200 Oxygen, 19 ICU w/o Ventilator, 8 ICU with Ventilator )
- Magar Stadium, PCMC – 500(62.5% of the total capacity of 800)( 450 Oxygen, 30 ICU w/o Ventilator, 20 ICU with Ventilator )Total Ventilators Currently Available in Pune – PMC ( including all other Govt and Private Hospitals )
Even when Pune has emerged as the worst-hit from the coronavirus outbreak, the state government has not utilised the medical facilities to its true potential. Patients suffering from serious complications induced by the virus are being turned away, citing overcapacity and lack of medical equipment, ventilators and beds necessary for their treatment.
The failure to suppress the escalating coronavirus cases in Pune, and subsequently, its incompetence in utilising the health infrastructure to its optimum capacity to provide medical attention to the needy is a scathing indictment of the Maha Vikas Aghadi government’s bungled handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Far from devoting time, resources, and energies in building and utilising the health capacities in Pune, the state government was more interested in fighting to prevent the CBI from assuming the investigation of the Sushant Singh Rajput’s death and meting out retribution on actor Kangana for her critical remarks against them.
BJP MLA Siddharth Shirole’s intervention led to the creation of dedicated coronavirus facilities in Pune
It is pertinent to note that it was BJP MLA Siddharth Shirole’s intervention that had led to the establishment of two of the jumbo coronavirus centres, an 800-bed-facility each at Pune and PCMC. With private facilities already stretched and also being used for non-COVID related cases, Shirole had fought hard for a dedicated coronavirus facility in Pune to free up the private and other healthcare facilities to treat non-COVID patients from in and around the city.
While talking to OpIndia last month, Shirole had opined that the medical infrastructure in both Pune and PCMC were sufficient to avert the crisis and the coronavirus outbreak could be brought under control, provided the state government acted responsibly and sincerely managed the jumbo coronavirus centres. Shirole’s suggestions fell on deaf ears as Pune continue to witness an alarming rise in the number of coronavirus cases, with its health infrastructure remaining massively underutilised.