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Home quarantine norms breach among reasons for COVID-19 surge: Officials

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Blatant violation of COVID-19 home quarantine and social distancing guidelines and unavailability of adequate resources for contact-tracing have led to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, a senior health official said on Thursday.

Maharashtra on Wednesday recorded a single-day spike of 8,807 new cases, taking the count of infections in the state to 21,21,119. The state reported over 8,000 cases in a day after a gap of over four months.

“We are helpless as people are not following the basic guidelines for home quarantine after discharge from hospitals post recovery or after return from a place that mandates such isolation for a limited period,” Dr. Subhash Salunke, technical adviser to the state government on the COVID-19 outbreak, said.

This clearly indicates people are inviting strict measures like lockdown, the official said.

“There have been a series of meetings of officials from revenue, home and health department to figure out ways to ensure people follow the norms strictly,” he said.

Teams of healthcare workers who go for COVID-19 testing are forced to take police escorts with them, as on several occasions people have refused to cooperate and get tested for the infection, he said.

The surge in the viral infection cases has prompted state officials to hold meetings to start procurement of medicines and masks and even reopen some COVID-19 care centres to accommodate infected persons.

“I am holding several meetings to increase the procurement of masks, PPE kits, medicines, among other items, so that we are ready to accommodate more patients (in COVID-19 care centres in coming days (if required),” state health department director Dr Archana Patil said.

Norms had been relaxed in good faith, but people have failed the efforts taken earlier by carelessly moving out in public places without taking adequate precautions, she said.

“When cases of institutional quarantine were in lakhs, the state had managed the situation fairly well. Now, this number is slightly above 50,000, which we can certainly manage. The government expects some cooperation and understanding from people,” Patil said.

Another senior state health official also noted that several political rallies and gatherings took place in the last three weeks.

“If leaders are more interested in short-term political gains, then there will be some consequences as well in terms of rising in the number of COVID-19 patients,” he said.

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