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This Maharashtra district tops list for daily Covid caseload, but is also among top vaccinators

Between 6-12 July, Kolhapur district in Maharashtra had a weekly test positivity of 9.85% against the state’s record of 4.36% for the same period. However, it has vaccinated 76% of its 45+ population.

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Mumbai: As Maharashtra works to fully emerge from the devastating impact of the second wave, one district’s high daily caseload is weighing it down.

With a weekly test positivity of 9.85 per cent between 6-12 July, Kolhapur is at the bottom of Maharashtra’s Covid progress card, lagging behind the state’s average of 4.36 per cent for the same period.

At the peak of the second wave in April, Kolhapur accounted for less than one per cent of the state’s caseload. However, in July, nearly one-fifth of Maharashtra’s cases have been reported from here — of the state’s 1.27 lakh cases recorded in the first two weeks of July, 23,181 cases were in Kolhapur.

District officials say this is because the second wave of the pandemic peaked much later here than it did in other parts of the state. While most of Maharashtra saw a peak in April and May, Kolhapur’s peak came towards the end of May and June.

Officials, though, say Kolhapur’s crisis has been milder given the fact that the district is among the best performers when it comes to vaccinations, especially in the 45+ age bracket.

The district recorded a total of 1,79,808 Covid positive cases till 15 July. Of these, 11,264 are currently active. So far, it has recorded 5,155 Covid deaths.

Maharashtra has recorded a total of 61,89,257 Covid cases of which 1,07,205 are currently active. Of these, 1,26,560 are deaths.

‘Late peak behind Kolhapur’s record’

Officials from the district administration attribute Kolhapur’s higher-than-average test positivity rate to the fact that the district saw the second wave peak only in late May and June, when other districts had started seeing a sharp drop in cases.

Yogesh Salhe, Kolhapur’s district health officer, said: “In the rest of Maharashtra, the second wave started in February. In Kolhapur, it started only in April. So, naturally the peak of the second wave has also come later here.”

While the entire state recorded 16.98 lakh Covid positive cases in April, Kolhapur’s share in this was 14,263, which was less than one per cent.

“Cases and the positivity rate have started declining now with the administration having ramped up testing to 18,000-25,000 a day. On any given day, 90 per cent of these tests are RT-PCR, and the rest are Rapid Antigen Tests,” Salhe added.

According to the state government’s records, Kolhapur’s weekly positivity rate was 12.59 per cent during 15-21 June. It is now down to 9.85 per cent for the week ending 12 July.

Not just cases, Kolhapur leads in vaccinations too

Incidentally, Kolhapur is also among the districts with the highest vaccination rate (45-plus population) in the state, according to government records. It ranks fifth best after Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Nagpur and Nashik.

District officials told ThePrint Friday that Kolhapur vaccinated 76 per cent of its 45+ population — the best among all districts in the state. However, it has vaccinated only two per cent of those in the 18-44 age bracket.

According to Dr Subhash Salunke, public health expert and technical advisor to the Maharashtra government on Covid control, this strong vaccination record has ensured that cases in Kolhapur are not too severe.

A district official who did not wish to be named also said that while Kolhapur is under the glare because of its high number of daily cases, overall, its peak has been much milder than many other districts.

“Pune district’s positivity rate at its peak was 43 per cent, Ahmednagar and Nashik’s rate was also in the same range at their peak. Our positivity at its peak was about 22 per cent,” he said.

Salinke added, “Kolhapur and some neighbouring districts of Satara and Sangli are in a situation like Kerala where the infection flared up a little late as compared to the other districts. The Delta variant of the virus entered these districts late, so the viral activity continued over a longer period. It will decline in a month or so with positive interventions such as high testing, contact tracing and Covid-appropriate behaviour.”

(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)

Also read: 1 in 4 Himachal adults fully vaccinated, against India’s 1 in 18 — here’s how hill state did it


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