At the moment, Maharashtra has the highest number of people affected by COVID-19 in India. As of Friday, April 17, 3,205 people had tested positive in the state with the highest number of fatalities in India at 194. Maharashtra had conducted 56,673 tests in total till April 16 and the total number of discharged patients were 300.
The biggest challenge the world currently faces is containing the novel coronavirus, and Maharashtra is already under huge stress due to it. However, that is not the only battle the state is engaged in. Another disease, one that also affects breathing called Severely Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI), is posing a challenge in two regions of the state.
As of now, SARI cases have been seen in the Vidarbha and Marathwada areas. As per information from the state health department, there are close to 550 patients of SARI in the state. Out of those, 350 are in Vidarbha and 200 are in Marathwada.
The disease has claimed 30 lives in the state so far. In Nagpur, 12 patients have died in the last 20 days whereas Amravati, Yavatmal and Akola districts of Vidarbha have recorded one death each. Aurangabad, in Marathwada, has witnessed 14 deaths till date.
The rapid spread of SARI in these two regions has set off alarm bells in the state's health department. The government has started registering patients and testing people in the Vidarbha and Marathwada areas. A patient has also been found in Pune's Pimpri area which is already severely affected by COVID-19.
What makes it tricky is that the symptoms of SARI are almost similar to those of the coronavirus. This is posing another challenge for the health department. A district health officer from Vidarbha, who wished to stay anonymous, informed NewsClick that the fear of testing the patients is high among doctors. “As symptoms are the same, doctors are worried that testing the patient without proper equipment could lead them to getting infected with COVID-19. This is why testing is slow right now,” he added.
As per initial reports, a total of 1.8% of SARI patients in India have also been found infected by the coronavirus. So, the state health department has come under pressure to tackle both.
If one looks at the Map of Maharashtra, the highest number of patients of COVID-19 are from the western zone which includes Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Palghar and Pune, the worst affected districts. Sangli was also affected but a majority of its patients have now been cured. Again, it falls to the west. Vidarbha, however, is to the east and Marathwada is central. As a result, the entire state has now fallen prey to medical emergencies.