Rising COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra have become a cause for concern

Check-posts at Karnataka – Maharashtra border to ensure only those with COVID-19 negative reports enter State

Constantly rising cases of COVID-19 in Maharashtra, which reported over 15,000 new cases and accounted for over 60% of active cases in the country, has posed a serious threat of the rapid spread of the infection in Bidar, Kalaburagi, Vijayapura and Belagavi districts that share the border with this State.

After a long lull, these districts have started seeing a steep rise in cases in the last 10 days. Kalaburagi, for instance, has constantly been reporting double-digit positive cases since the first day of March. It reported 37 new cases on Wednesday and 35 new cases on Saturday taking the number of active cases in the district to 277.

In a bid to check the spread of the virus, the administrations in the border districts have tightened the containment measures including setting up of check-posts at Karnataka – Maharashtra border to ensure that only those who had COVID-19 negative reports could enter the State.

Mobile squads

“Kalaburagi district is reporting an average of 35 cases a day for the 10 days. We have formed four mobile squads with health, police and civic personnel and deployed them at different places. These mobile clinics are visiting the areas where positive cases have been reported and enforce the containment measures including isolating the primary and secondary contacts of the infected persons after collecting their throat swab samples. We have also set up a check-post at Kalaburagi railway station to ensure that only those with COVID-19 negative reports enter the city,” Rajashekhar Mali, District Health and Family Welfare Officer, told The Hindu.

The North Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation has indefinitely suspended bus services to Maharashtra. As per the sources in the State-owned transport corporation, as many as 60 buses were operating between different cities in Karnataka and Maharashtra daily.

Kalaburagi Deputy Commissioner Vijaya Jyothsna has indefinitely imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, and the Disaster Management Act, 2005, banning all jatras, festivals and Urus across the district to avoid crowds gathering. She is holding meetings of officers every evening to closely monitor the containment measures in place.

Increased testing

The surge in cases in Maharashtra has led to changes in Belagavi and Vijayapura districts. They include the increased target of daily testing, contact tracing of positive cases, implementation of guidelines for public functions and checking at the border.

Officers in Belagavi said that the Health Department had set a target of 3,000 tests a day in Belagavi and 2,000 a day in Vijayapura. Officers have been asked to trace 20 contacts of each positive person within 24 hours. They will be tested first. If they test positive, 20 primary contacts of those persons are tested again. Contact tracing has begun from Sunday, officers said.

However, checking at the border is not being done strictly, according to some officers. The severity of checking at the four borders in Belagavi and the two borders in Vijayapura has come down, they say.

The prime reason is that people are not as afraid of COVID-19 as they were. Secondly, checking each vehicle takes time and causes traffic jams on the highways. Thirdly, two-wheelers and other smaller vehicles are using chord roads narrow roads to enter the State, a Health Department officer said. The government has reintroduced the restrictions on the crowd during public functions. The crowd limit is 500 for outdoor and 200 for indoor functions. For family functions and observations like cremation and death anniversary, the number is 100 for outdoor and 50 for indoor functions. “We are taking enough precautions and following the State SOP. The rise in the number of cases is not much in Belagavi. We have ranged from zero to 15 cases in the last few weeks when the Maharashtra spike was reported,” said M . .Hiremath, Deputy Commissioner.

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