Pune, along with other districts in western Maharashtra and Marathwada, came to a standstill during the ‘Janata Curfew’, while the number of COVID-19 positive cases in Pune rose to 27 on Sunday.

The total number of patients in the city is at 15, while in Pune district, it is at 27. The remaining 12 cases in the district are from Pimpri-Chinchwad.

On Saturday, a 41-year-old Pune woman with no history of foreign travel tested positive for the virus and is on ventilator support at the city’s Bharti Hospital. Four of her close relatives have also tested positive, said district authorities.

There are 55 patients undergoing treatment in hospitals in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad. Of them, 27 have tested positive while the test results of the remaining 28 are still awaited from the National Institute of Virology (NIV).

“Till date, 466 patients have been admitted to Pune’s Naidu Hospital while 121 are in Pimpri-Chinchwad’s Y.C.M. Hospital and a further 16 are at D.H. Hospital in Aundh. From this total of 603 admissions, 548 have been discharged till now; 55 are being treated at the moment, of whom 27 have tested positive for COVID-19,” said an official from Pune zilla parishad’s health department.

He said, till date, 3,214 passengers who had arrived from the affected countries had been quarantined. Of them, 821 had completed their 14-day observation period while 2,393 were still in quarantine. District authorities also said around one lakh homes across Pune district had been covered by home surveillance teams. A total of 3,32,897 residents were screened, of whom 18 had been referred to Naidu Hospital.

Eerie calm

Meanwhile, there was an eerie calm on the city’s bustling roads as residents isolated themselves within their homes to stave off the COVID-19 scourge.

While citizens in several residential societies responded energetically to the Prime Minister’s call to thank those dispensing essential services by banging plates and blowing conch shells, several more questioned the wisdom behind the move. “A lot of superstitious messages and false information about combating COVID-19 are being spread through WhatsApp and other social media,” said a resident from a housing society in the city. The messages say making noise by banging plates and blowing conch shells on your balcony will make the virus go away, and “imply that following the ‘Janata Curfew’ is enough and that they can stop practising ‘social distancing’ after that,” he said.

With the gravity of the COVID-19 contagion gradually sinking in, few vehicles were seen on the usually clogged Mumbai-Pune expressway which was serene even at its most congested junctions like Amrutanjan Bridge and Bhor Ghat.

Robust police deployment was in place to enforce the curfew with stray two-wheeler riders driven off the streets and sent back to their homes.

With a lockdown officially announced in the State, only up to 400 buses of the Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal fleet of 1,700 will run in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad from Monday to ferry only people dispensing essential services like doctors, municipal cleaners, and other staff. The curfew witnessed a similarly enthusiastic response in Kolhapur and Sangli districts in western Maharashtra as well as in Marathwada.

The Sangli district administration has already sealed its borders with Karnataka and stopped inter-State bus services in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.

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