Maharashtra has so far accounted for more than 40% of India’s total deaths.
“Instead of only looking at testing and tracing (the strategy so far), we now have been told to ensure that deaths in hospitals come down,” a senior state health official said. “Mortality is our main concern at this moment,” he added.
In Mumbai, which is the country’s worst hotspot, the mood is similar as the city has reported 834 deaths between June 1 and 13, as against a total of 989 deaths in May. A ward officer told TOI that his team has been asked to conduct house-to-house surveys of the elderly and check their oxygen saturation. “We have been told to catch cases early enough for senior citizens to be helped,” he added.
Additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said the rise in mortality is worrying. “The number of cases have more or less been steady at less than 1,500 a day, except for a couple of days in May, when the count was higher,” he said.
BMC officials have, in fact, asked the state task force on Covid-19 for suggestions or changes in treatment policy if necessary. “They will let us know within a day whether we are on the proper track or need to tweak our treatment methods,” Kakani said.
An officer from a ward where over 100 Covid-related deaths have been reported said, “Many Covid-19 positive persons who have died in the ward have been those who came with some health ailment already and were 60 years and above. Therefore we decided on screening these elderly persons so that the mortality rate could be kept under control.”
Meanwhile, a senior state medical education department official said that the focus in government medical colleges was to ensure that the most serious Covid-19 patients get access to medicines. “We have allowed the use of tocilizumab, and a clinical trial of oral antiviral Flavipavir that was started in the Aurangabad government medical college will now be taken to other medical colleges too,” he said.
The state has also started its own clinical trial with plasma convalescent therapy in which blood component plasma from a recovered patient is given to moderately ill Covid-19 patients.
“When the Ebola drug remdesivir is approved by the Centre for use, we will certainly make it available for our patients as the challenge right now is to check deaths at all costs,” the official said.